Aaaaaaand that cinches it. The Order 1886 will probably never have a sequel unless the sales are astronomically high or there’s a PR miracle. The higher ups of SCE better put a muzzle on their Santa Monica studios and Ready at Dawn. These guys can’t seem to use twitter or make an interview without somehow finding themselves tasting sole. And I’m talking filthy jogging sneaker rubber sole, here. No Armani.
Of all the follow ups to The Order 1886 debacle these people could have had, this is one of the stupidest and most suicidal I could have ever imagined.
Let me begin by stating two things: one, kudos to the Crisis Team of SCE. They made the dev delete the tweets in record time but sadly it was still too late, as proven by the screenshot below. The internet never forgets and bad news spread like electrical impulses in a sea of copper wire.
Two, I’ve been following #GamerGate since the incipit of it back in August 2014 so I’ve grown very critical of Game Journalists. But this time they’re completely in the right and more importantly, this is a case where what the critics think and what the players think come almost perfectly together. On Metacritic there are a lot more positive user reviews compared to bad or mixed… But that’s if you don’t actually read them and only stop at the rating.
I’ve chosen this one, by user jojo7yheng6, because it’s emblematic of two things. The first being: review scores need to die. The second is: even someone giving your game a 9 out of 10 has for it the same criticism as someone who gives it a lower score.
“I’m a fan of critics review, I have always check them prior to buying any game. Last week I was surprised that The ORDER:1886 is already available (18th Feb), and by Gut Feel I bought it…and played the next day (around 6 hours already and have not yet finished). The graphics are outstanding…but felt that it is like a movie in a way, the game mechanics are mediocre and basically acceptable but at the end of the day, I have played it longer than any game that I have bought for PS4 that received better review than this game.”
Now, there’s a possibility -grammar and all- that this and many other reviews may have been bought. We’ve seen images of rating factories in China. People buy Twitter and Facebook followers. It’s perfectly feasible, what with the kind of weight Metacritic scores have on developers bonuses. But it’s not the only one that, while giving The Order 1886 a high score, say the same things: it’s graphically incredible but it’s way too short, the gameplay is average and there’s too little of it.
All this preamble to establish that even if the review scores weren’t there the same almost universal criticism for this game persists: it hardly feels like a videogame, and that was apparently on purpose. The devs of The Order 1886 have gone out multiple times, proudly selling their game as a cinematic experience, and calling bullies or haters the players who tried it and said that maybe a videogame is supposed to be a gameplay experience after all?
Now, after the users, it’s the critics who come under fire but this is not just any normal criticism. This is a developer from a high profile studio wondering why they should send review copies or buy ads if they’re not sure the sites aren’t going to praise the everloving god out of their game.
Ok, let me try and answer that question. Huuu, because a product whatever it is doesn’t sell itself and you need ads and reviews and a media buzz? Because we come from a whole year of PR disasters, with the Shadow of Mordor advertising contracts, Assassin’s Creed Unity, #GamerGate putting the whole of gaming journalism under fire for cronyism and giving positive review scores to friends or for money and holy fucking shit, HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING UNDER A ROCK WITH NO INTERNET ACCESS FOR ALL OF 2014?!
Look, let’s take a seat. Want a soda? Some candies? We all love candies, right? Okay, relax. The thing is, devs, that you’re not making games just for yourself. This is not a crayon drawings that you’re going to stick on the back of your door, or at the most show to your mother. You make products that can cost millions in budget. Products that need to be sold to people, who are only going to buy them if they like it, if they think they’re worth their money.
So it’s a reviewer’s duty to be as objective and truthful as possible. It’s the John Bain school of talking about games, and it’s one gamers appreciate and want as shown by his success and the past SEVEN MONTHS -seriously, where have you been?-. And on the other side, a disgruntled user will share his criticism. Maybe harshly if he feels he has been cheated out of his money, or if the game doesn’t live up to the hype built around it. It hasn’t been that long since Destiny and Watchdogs. You can’t have forgotten already.
Your game will be out in the world, meet people who have the duty and/or freedom to let their criticism known. I understand that a lot of effort goes into making a game, but you need to learn to accept that criticism, and improve from it. Especially if professional critics and users alike are saying the same thing about your game: it’s too much like a god damn movie, and it’s way too much bang for buck. A completely legitimate criticism. This. Is not. Hollywood.
The worst thing you can ever do is call your critics bullies and haters, or blackmail the professional ones because, I want everyone to never forget this: at the end of the day you are powerless, devs. Critics too because they are only as valuable as the attention, love and reputation gamers shower them with. You want to stop sending review copies and buy ads? You can. Just like you could throw yourself off a mountain, but the only thing you’d accomplish is hurting yourself in both cases.
This is a disaster. Now The Order 1886 name will be not only tied to its flawed avantgarde movie piece of a game, but to this whole debacle and the immature reactions of its developers. It’s a black blot on what was supposed to be a new franchise and unless the sales are very good and/or SCE PR manages to fix these damaged bridges, I doubt Sony will want to invest in the concept again.
What Ready at Dawn, Santa Monica, and Sony need to learn from this is two things. One, gamers value gameplay over pretty graphics and atmosphere, as I already spoke of in this other article. Second, this could have all been avoided if the game had been priced lower… Or maybe not. After all, a price of 40 bucks may have drawn more people to buy it but the criticism and review scores would have remained the same.
So, yeah. This would probably still have happened. But it does give me an opportunity to start a discourse about Value and Quality of a game, which I’ll introduce in the next article. Now, let me know, dear readers. After what The Order 1886 has proven itself to be and the way its devs have acted, would you still buy an eventual sequel if it kept the same formula of much cutscenes little gameplay?
Meinos Kaen out!