The launch of Batman: Arkham Knight was a disaster, at least for PC owners. Now it might be even more of a PR disaster for publisher Warner Bros. Although the company issued an apology to owners and fans after pulling the game out of sales, it seems it might just be a well-worded cover up. Numerous sources, including the games’ testers, are now saying that Warner Bros. was fully aware of the issues that the PC version faced, but decided to ship it at the same time anyway.
Games that ship with bugs are nothing new and AAA games are definitely not exempt. Issues are exacerbated, however, when it comes to multi-platform games. Given the sad reputation of PC gaming these days, in contrast to consoles, those ports usually end up faring rather poorly, though there have definitely been exemptions. Things have also progressed, thanks to tools and engines, to the point that making a decent PC port isn’t as painstaking as it was before. Sadly, this is not such a case.
WB has had mixed results with PC ports of games. In some cases, like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Monolith) and Dying Light (Techland), the PC versions performed well and were well received as well. With Mortal Kombat X (High Voltage Software) and now with Arkham Night (Rocksteady), sadly, things didn’t go so well. The success of the first two games were attributed to the developers’ experience with PCs and their treatment of the platform as a first class citizen instead of just an afterthought. In the case of Mortal Kombat X, the devs might have overpromised a tad. For Arkham Knight, Rocksteady might have been overwhelmed by something they’ve never done before: an open, sprawling world and their first PC port.
Those lapses might almost be forgivable except for what happened next. WB was supposedly well aware of the various bugs plaguing the PC version of Arkham Knight but, defying all reason, decided to ship it anyway. Well, perhaps they had their business reasons and for their sake hopefully those reasons are weightier than the fallout they might get from this incident. This information comes from testers who reported the very same bugs that shipped with the game as well as those familiar with its development. A few minor bugs can be fixed with patches, but ones that drag down the game to single digit frame rates are not something you’re supposed to sell to the public. Ever.
Of course, these are unverified sources and we await WB’s, as well as Rocksteady’s, word on the matter, assuming they won’t cover it up with more market-speak. It does, however, validate how inconceivable it is that the game would have passed QA. The only reason it could have still gone out in that state is if management pushed for it regardless. At the moment, major issues remain largely unfixed and Batman: Arkham Knight PC remains off the shelves, with no end yet in sight.