Should we show glitchy games the red card?

by , Conversation Editor Technology 2 November 2012
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Buggy, broken video games. It’s something I’ve come to expect, and Fifa 13 is the latest to be plagued by the issue. Usually you just wait for a patch but, when that doesn’t fix all the issues, why can’t you get a refund?

Game play screen shot from Fifa - Photo courtesy of EA Sports

Since Fifa 13 was released there’s been an ever-growing list of bugs reported. Disappearing footballs, invisible players and game crashes. I’ll be honest, I’m not a Fifa fan (I’m more of a shooter and adventure game player). However, we have had complaints sent to us, like this one from Lawrence:

‘The game is in an appalling state with an increasing number of issues the more you play. System crashes are the worst and the game is virtually unplayable. Daily I have been checking the official EA Fifa 13 forum and there are thousands of people complaining that they cannot play at all.’

The game has sold more than six million copies worldwide – this is a big blockbuster of a game from one of the biggest publishers in the industry. Is that what we should expect from Electronic Arts (EA) and the 20th game in the Fifa series?

Game updates fix bugs

It’s becoming all too familiar this gaming generation. Developers seem to be releasing games in the comfort that they can provide post-release software updates to fix glitches. Don’t get me wrong, fixing bugs after games release is certainly a good thing. Yet, if it’s relied upon, it can create a culture of buggy games hitting shop shelves.

And so Fifa 13 is the latest in a long list of ‘broken’ games. But with so many angry gamers fed up with the bugs, this particular video game was picked up by BBC Watchdog. EA Sports was forced to respond in an open letter.

The letter claims that Fifa ‘goes through a rigorous, year-long testing process that logs thousands upon thousands of hours of evaluation to ensure a high quality experience at launch and all season long’. After releasing a ‘major update’ to the game on 19 October, EA says that ‘game crashes and other issues dropped by more than half’.

Fifa 13 game crashes

According to our Twitter followers, many bugs are still there. HeeD (@__HeeD__) told us:

‘The problems with the game are a joke. What’s the point in having the best football game ever, but you can’t play it!!!!!!’

Hayley (‏@hpearce10) agreed and now has buyer’s remorse:

‘Can’t believe the amount of things wrong with this game this year. Understand things can go wrong, but this has been crazy. Wish I’d never bought it.’

EA promises that it is committed to addressing ‘necessary fixes to improve the FIFA experience as quickly and effectively as possible’. But for many, it’s too late. So can you take your game back and get a refund?

Refund rights for glitchy games

Unfortunately, your legal position isn’t clear. EA isn’t obliged to provide a refund, and in any normal circumstance you’d take a faulty product back to the retailer. But as the game disc itself isn’t faulty, the retailer may take some persuading. Still, it’s worth giving it a go and telling them the game isn’t fit for purpose or of satisfactory quality under the Sale of Goods Act. Or that it wasn’t created with reasonable care and skill under the Supply of Goods and Services Act.

I think it’s time we stopped accepting such sub-standard products. We need stronger rights to offer us greater protection from glitchy video games, otherwise we’re going to be left with a pile of discs and nothing to play.

21 comments

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oxchris

I think this sort of thing is always going to be subjective. Next people will want a refund on a book because the plot was rubbish. It’s not like games aren’t extensively reviewed nowadays so that these sort of issues should be well known in advance of purchasing. Be thankful games get updates nowadays!

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MJF

What? It’s nothing like complaining about a book plot being rubbish. At least you could actually read the book properly to make that assessment. This is more like complaining that words are missing from the book altogether.

If you bought a product that doesn’t work as it shod, you would take it back for a working model or a refund. Why should software be any different?

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Tom

Do you play Fifa, obviously not.

[Hello Tom, please don't write all in capital letters. Thanks, mods.]

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Stevo

How can you say that?! We pay good money for these games. They increase in price each time a new console is released as well. You can only compare it to a book if the book is unreadable somehow. Technology, particularly in the gaming industry is supposedly advancing but it is clearly coming at a price. As the graphics may get slightly better, the smoothness and overall gameplay becomes more and more laggy and buggy so you end up having to turn the console off at the plug. EA in particular has had appauling online servers for a number of years now and its about time they faced the problems that we, the whole reason they are surviving in this money stricken climate, are having everytime we play their games.

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william

The sad truth is companies have budgets and timetables and will push stuff out of door by a certain date regardless of what the quality is like, knowing full well that the majority will be happy to get the game and download patches. And people will probably forget this if they get the next release right.

I worked for a financial software company and I was appalled at the quality of software that was released all because a sales person had agreed a delivery date in the contract with the client. And 99% of the time with features which didn’t exist at the time of the sale and we only get to know they should be in the software days before the delivery. I remember the development team working a bank holiday weekend so we could courier a patch out first thing Tuesday morning knowing the client wouldn’t have loaded the software but at least we met the delivery date. MADNESS. Know wonder the company is going down the pan. You can’t treat customers like that and expect to get away with it in the long run. And we’re talking software and that cost the best part of £500k + ( as an aside on one day we delivered the same software one to a client in Hong Kong for HK$35k and one in the USA for $1.5m )

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Dark_Overlord

For anyone in the UK, you can get a refund.

http://www.computerandvideogames.com/281679/buggy-game-purchasers-entitled-to-refund/

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davidoh

You can get a refund, I got one at Tesco as i complained about trade and standard laws.

Interesting David, do you remember exactly what you said. BTW we had to remove your comment as it broke our commenting guidelines: http://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines

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JJMMWGDuPree

I guess the advantage of dedicated games machines is that at least the writers know what they’re writing for. The problem with computers is that they’re nearly all different.

Of course the games could be written specifically for each version of Windows but that costs money and is still no guarantee that the game will work with any particular combination of hardware, and Microsoft don’t help matters by continually moving the goalposts.

My solution? Write all games for Linux, and run them on all the other OSs with an emulator. Yes, I know it’s crazy, but for any correctly written program it would actually work…

– Sightly Weird, Welshpool.

The problem is that it’s often console games that are the glitchy ones, including Fifa 13

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J J M M W G DuPree

FIFA 13 is a console game?

I’ve been out of the loop too long…

If it’s a dedicated console game then there’s no excuse for it not to work, just take it back to the shop and if they tell you to download a patch tell them you don’t have an internet connection. I’ve taken dodgy records back without a problem. I don’t see that the store has a leg to stand on.

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william

@JJMWGDupree, That’s not likely to work as many console games require an active internet connection, to ensure you’re playing with a legit copy. In fact some games, that’s there selling point, to play against other people online.

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J J M M W G DuPree

Hmmm…

I have no interest in playing games against others, and since I’m paying for this internet connection I’m damned if I’m going to log into it for the hours I spend playing games.

One login should be enough to satisfy them that the game’s legit, I rather suspect that the real reason for wanting you logged in is data mining.

I guess it’s just as well I’m not a part of the current games scene. It would be really bad for my blood pressure.

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Dean

As William has said, it’s time-to-market. When a salesperson/marketer makes a promise, everyone then has to deliver it. Managers like this because it puts lots of pressure on and keeps everyone on their toes, however in the real world, this just means feature descope, defects, demoralised staff, extra staff turnover and overall higher costs.

As a software test manager of 15 years, this is indicative of the digital business market place. People want shiny new things but aren’t concerned about whether they are of satisfactory quality or not. Hence the paradox of my position and I believe that in most places, people are just paying lip-service to quality.

And quality is not “just seeing if it works at the end”, as this FIFA game will have been tested to death, it’s about making sure that the business focusses on the “right first time” culture instead of being safe in the knowledge that they can just apply a patch after the game has been released. This never used to be the case before everyone had and internet connection. All PS1 games for example had to be defect free when they went out to the shops. Now I NEVER start playing a game without having to download an update patch, or ten. It’s disgraceful, yet we all pay for it.

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william

@dean, I quite agree with your comments on quality. The cowboy firm I worked for at one point spent £100k’s on getting ISO accredited. What a joke. You document your processes and as long as you followed the processes that had been documented, tick. Yet that had little or no impact on the quality end product. But management were all for it, so it had to be good, right.

i.e. If the processes demanded you misspelt the company name that appeared on each screen and you followed it, then good. Apart from the impression that would give to clients. Sigh.

And their idea of testing was does it do what’s in the spec, yes then good, I wasn’t popular for producing a document called “when enhancements go bad”. Pride of place was an import process that had passed unit testing, passed system testing, but failed the first time a client ran it. Why did it fail, well the client had tried to import 250.000 transactions and the testing had only tested importing ONE. There was no code in the software to do more than ONE. but it had passed testing. The solution given to the client was break the import file into 250k 1 line files. ARGHHHHH.

Then there’s the enhancement were the comments were all in Spanish, yet we had no Spanish development team. Or another enhancement were the comments were a Rogan Josh recipe. Sigh

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Dean

William, so true. ISO accreditation just means following your own procedures, however terrible they are.

“We are ISO9001 registered”
“What does that mean?”
“We make a quality product”
“How?”
“eeeerm….”

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jjgskgs

Omg! I hate these stupid bugs in Fifa 13 this game is ridiculous.
Sometimes when I make a sub the graphic for hte peoples names stays there and stays on the screen even when I go back to the main menu. Sometimes in career mode it freezes.
What’s up with the lighting in the game as well? Fifa 12 was way better. It’s soo bright!

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pozidriva

I think the time has long passed when we should have given these games the red card, like many i purchased EA/Criterions Need For Speed Most Wanted in November, as with the Fifa game NFSMW is absolutely riddled with glitches, freezes and other issues, I’ve genuinely lost count of how many times i have had to force my PS3 to shut down because the game freezes, resulting in corrupt data and the need to begin the game again from scratch. I took my copy back to the retailer i purchased it from, together with about 15 pages of problems i’d seen posted on the internet, the manager tried to tell me the disc wasn’t faulty, but i countered that by informing him i purchased the game to play, which i cannot do in a manner that might be reasonably expected, in the end he relented and i got my refund.
People are to easily placated, but even your opening sentence reflects the state of play, or, non-play in the case of Fifa/NFSMW “I’ve come to expect buggy games”, why shouldn’t we expect that which we’ve paid for to work, as it should, we pay good money for this stuff, we should be more pro-active in demanding that we get what we’ve paid for.

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hmmmm fifa

since like 3 days agowhen i play….the game play is really weird…he players dribble REALLYYYY bad, the pass really bad…..when you driblle its like you don’t have control over the players….its like they are frezzing ad running……does anyone has that problem…..i saw they have it n the x-box….i have it on ps3, pls HELPPPPPPPPPPPPP….its no fun playing it anymoreeeeee!!!!!

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fuked fifa

can it be fixed ?wats a patch were can i get 1 somone help ?????

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J

how do you stop these glitches I got fifa 14 da day it come out and like my fifa 13 couple weeks ago I cant play proper can someone plz help me

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