Thursday, 7 February 2013

Paradox pledges to improve game quality

Best known for their creation of Grand Strategy games, there has been no denying that Paradox Interactive has had serious problems with their titles of late. While known for continually releasing patches long after a title’s release, sometimes directly after just to make them playable, recent releases have been exceptionally flawed. After the recent backlash and decline in positive PR over one specific release, Paradox CEO Fredrik Wester has announced the publisher will be changing its ways.

In an interview with GameSpy, Wester admitted to having  made a number of mistakes and would be focusing upon improving the overall quality of its releases. The title which pushed for this change was the alternate-history RTS Gettysburg: Armored Warfare. Having been released in an outright unplayable state and thoroughly mauled by both buyers and critics alike it was enough to make the company consider major improvements. “We’ve had many bad releases before that, as well, and we learned something every time” admitted Wester , following up the statement saying it caused them to close another four projects. Looking into them and deciding that “These games are not up to the standards we’re currently working for at Paradox.” Also affirming that “We’re not going to have any more games that are unplayable at release.”

What made this year the right time to begin dealing with their on-going problem was that the developer would have previously been unable to cancel any titles. He claims that they could not afford to do so and were required to publish games to schedule, no matter their condition, in order to “get at least some of the cash we invested back.” What has helped to give them the finances they needed was the success of the buggy but popular Magicka and positive responses to Crusader Kings 2 along with a dedicated QA team. Something the developer previously did not have within its studios. Further use will be made of third party testing companies to avoid buggy launches.

While unmentioned within the article the much anticipated but visibly unfinished Sword of the Stars II is likely another element which has also helped push for this change. Focusing upon that game alone for a moment its history is something which has displayed the best and worst aspects of Paradox Interactive. Namely the developer’s ability to release titles which required months more development, but also its dedication to its fans. Continuously working to get the game to a finished condition and eventually releasing an Enhanced Edition with the first DLC installed alongside all patches. Not to mention their decision to give any previous buyers of the game the Enhanced Edition free of charge to compensate them for their loss. Certainly not an action you would often find amongst the far more maligned and bigger companies in the video games industry.

While their desire to improve is definitely admirable it will hardly instantly occur. Case and point is their first release for this year, Dungeonland, which much like many of its games has been reported to contain various major bugs despite its high quality. Notably connectivity and multiplayer problems, something which plagued Magicka for a great deal of time.

With any luck the future will show greater signs of improvement on the publisher’s part in its releases. 

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