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So Prey 2 doesn't meet Bethesda's 'quality standards'. I've been wondering - what the hell are Bethesda's quality standards?

Last week's announcement from high-profile publisher and developer Bethesda regarding a delay to its in-development title Prey 2 went like so:

"Development of Prey 2 has not been cancelled but the game will not be released in 2012 as planned. The delay is due to the fact that game development has not progressed satisfactorily this past year, and the game does not currently meet our quality standards. Prey 2 has shown great promise and we regret disappointing our fans."

Sounds fair enough. But the bit about 'the game does not currently meet our quality standards' really stood out like a proverbial elephant. A proverbial elephant with sore thumbs for legs. I don't think it's unfair or wide of the mark to say that Bethesda games have a reputation for being a bit buggy and frequently prone to post-release problems.

Of course, we have to take into account the sheer scale and computational complexities of the vast RPG worlds that Bethesda specialises in and a few technical hitches and glitches are to be expected. And anyway, as gamers we are normally happy to accept and even celebrate these anomalies as sorts of accidental bonus features that provide amusing diversions to the intended experience. But only up to a point.

For example, this sort of thing is funny:

Above: It's funny because the Oblivion lady is sitting down but not on a chair

But this sort of thing isn't quite so funny:

Above: Rage wasn't developed by Bethesda, but as the game's publisher its 'quality standards' should still apply

Then this sort of thing is the absolute definition of COMPLETELY NOT FUNNY:


Above: Completely not funny

And it's really the PS3 Skyrim debacle that makes Bethesda's 'quality standards' statement about Prey 2 (which is being developed by Human Head Studios) seem so jarring. For a significant number of PS3 gamers, Skyrim was - due to severe technical deficiencies - an unplayable game. It was broken. And it took three months for the diabolical frame rate issues that effectively rendered the game broken to be sufficiently fixed with a patch.

With that in mind, just how flawed would a game have to be to fall below Bethesda's quality standards tidemark? Is Prey 2 being judged using the same quality standards as Skyrim? Are the quality standards based on a defined checklist of criteria? Have new quality standards been implemented in the aftermath of the PS3 Skyrim mess? These are all things I've been thinking.

It's been pointed out to me that perhaps I'm confusing the term 'quality standards' with 'quality assurance'. And I very probably am. In the context of game development it is indeed quality assurance (aka QA) that deals with testing and bug-reporting and sniffing out technical effupperies. Technical effupperies like crippling lag. But, in the absence of an exact definition, I'd interpret 'quality standards' as an umbrella term that covers every facet of a game. The standard of quality in reference to the game as a whole. Including QA.

Obviously I invited Bethesda to contribute to this article. After all, there is no authority better positioned than Bethesda to answer my Bethesda-related questions and help clarify its definition of 'quality standards'. But it declined to comment.

There's absolutely no doubt Bethesda gets a lot of things right. Millions of happy gamers will testify to that. Bethesda's ability to craft compelling worlds for us to play in is certainly not in question. But that doesn't detract from the reality that glitches and bugs and other such issues to file under 'screwed' have become something of a hallmark for Bethesda games. And with the PS3 Skyrim controversy still very fresh in the memory, it just seems a little curious and incongruous to me that Bethesda should be talking about 'quality standards'.

Whatever the hell they might be.

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43 comments

  • inkyspot - April 26, 2012 2:54 a.m.

    Unless the game was really bad, maybe the game doesn't have enough bugs in it or the animation is too fluid, or the textures are well done. Anyway delaying the game (Instead of cancelling it) will hopefully do it some good.
  • MasterBhater - April 26, 2012 2:56 a.m.

    I'm guessing that whatever state Prey 2 was in, it was most likely in the "Really unifinished-so much so that we delayed it a whole year" section.
  • ToThe9thPower - April 26, 2012 3:06 a.m.

    Their games might not be perfect, but Bethesda is pretty damn good at crafting an amazing overall experience. You can troll them all you want GamesRadar, but they would not of delayed the game for no reason. I bet if you saw the problems you would agree it needed a substantial amount of time to get in better condition. Also, I am pretty sure the Rage comparison is bogus because didn't Carmack reserve the right to keep control over his games?
  • Squander - April 26, 2012 4:49 a.m.

    Letting honest gamers pay the full amount of money for something that broken is an act of imposture. That is pretty uncool from Bethesda, furthmore there is no "amazing overall experience" if you play a damn unfinished, flawed, and heavy bugged game.
  • taokaka - April 26, 2012 3:08 a.m.

    That Rage glitch is actually pretty cool, it reminds me of various artists works I learnt about in art class a while back but can't remember their names due to not paying any attention in art class. If I played and that happened for only a short while I'd actually be quite thrilled but if it was persistent then I'd be annoyed. But anyway back to the point, is a gamer not entitled to enjoy the glitches of a game? No says Matt Cundy, their graphics should be normal. However I chose the impossible, I chose a lag free skyrim. When some said it would be impossible to play fallout under the sea I said it would be impossible to play it anywhere else. I don't know why I went all bioshock on you but if I deeply offended anybody then I am truly sorry.
  • Hobogonigal - April 27, 2012 1:14 a.m.

    It is the quintessential right of the gamer to play bug-ridden games. Without it we become slaves imprisoned under the laws of the censor. From this point onwards the union for buggy game players commences!
  • Slayer11496 - April 26, 2012 3:31 a.m.

    Hopefully, Bethesda just raised their quality standards. Would be a good call, considering the Skyrim PS3 outrage.
  • Malakie - April 26, 2012 3:57 a.m.

    This article is right on. Bethesda releases buggy crappy software AND they have no customer support worth a dam. Sure the scale of the games might be big, graphics ok but when the game is unplayable.. no excuse. In fact I would call them out and say there was NO testing at all of a complete product. How could anyone miss the glaring bugs in their last few releases? You would have to be dumb, deaf and blind to miss them.. Since the release of Skyrim I STILL cannot play it due to bugs. The most prevelent is the sound bug.. I have some sounds and not others. They still have the save game loading issue as well.. Personally I will not be buying another Bethesda software product until I see and have proof they have changed things and have started releasing TESTED solid code.
  • Shinn - April 26, 2012 4:16 a.m.

    True, I spent an entire evening trying to make Fallout 3 GOTY run on my pc, and eventually figured out that having an Asus utility installed was causing the game to crash on startup, despite the utility not running (or having ever been launched for that matter). Seven weeks later, customer support got back to me with a generic "reinstall" line.
  • c-c-c-combo breaker - April 26, 2012 4:07 a.m.

    Being honest, we don't really have any developers to compare bethesda to. Correct me if I'm wrong, there aren't too many games like morrowind/oblivion/skyrim. >in before 'hurr kingdoms of amalur/fable herp'
  • ObliqueZombie - April 26, 2012 8:03 a.m.

    I agree with you, there's not very many wide-open, nearly limitless free-roaming RPGs out there. Some mimick it (*COUGHCOUGH*KINDOMSOFAMALUR*COUGHCOUGH*), but there really isn't a game out there that does exactly what Bethesda's games do. At least I think so.
  • gyury - April 26, 2012 4:25 a.m.

    I fully agree with you, Matt. Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind was the last great Elder Scrolls game I've played. Oblivion crashed so often it became unplayable and Skyrim is a buggy mess. I've had no problems with Fallout 3, thankfully. Bethesda make great games but need to pay more attention rather than rushing titles out. If you're spending £50 - £60 on a game you expect something a little more polished. Hopefully Prey 2 will be a little better than its stablemates.
  • Redeater - April 26, 2012 4:48 a.m.

    I'm going to make a guess that Prey 2 will end up being borderline terrible when all is said and done. I actually loved Prey 1 on my PC and am willing to give this a chance but everything I have seen for this game almost smacks of too many ideas and not enough polish on any of them.
  • Rodpercent - April 26, 2012 4:55 a.m.

    Seems like GamesRadar is frustrated at Bethesdas recent games. I think if you dig a litter further you can see the "quality" they're refurring to. Maybe not push out games too quickly will help them achieve the quailty they wish.
  • BladedFalcon - April 26, 2012 7:14 a.m.

    It would have been fortunate then, if they had not pushed out Skyrim so quickly... And New vegas. And Fallout 3. And Oblivion >_> Thing is, I don't think Cundy's criticizing the delay, mainly jsut making fun at the hypocrisy behind the "The game needs more time, so we're delaying it" that they are applying now, but have neglected to do so in their past games.
  • ObliqueZombie - April 26, 2012 8:01 a.m.

    I don't think they pushed out any of those (save for New Vegas and possibly Fallout 3) so fast. I know they didn't start work on Skyrim THE DAY AFTER Oblivion, but a good three or four years have gone into it, noting when Fallout 3 was released. Not to mention Oblivion came out four years after Morrowind (three after the expansions) and Fallout 3 two years after Oblivion, which is generally the standard game development time. New Vegas was developed by Obsidian studios, and from what I remember, they did nothing more then take the current engine and mod the hell out of it, which is why the game seemed to have came out of no where so fast. ALAS, I agree with both of you. I think Bethesda's "quality assurance" has increased since the Skyrim debacle, yet Cundy was merely (and humorously) pointing out the oxymoron of their decision. ... Wow I typed a lot.
  • BladedFalcon - April 26, 2012 8:30 a.m.

    The way I see it though, no matter how much time you've been already developing a game, if it still has bugs, problems and kinks that affect the game-play significantly, then you are STILL releasing the game way too soon.
  • elsnichkum - April 26, 2012 9:34 a.m.

    ^exactly. That or they're obviously doing something wrong.
  • Jbo87 - April 26, 2012 5:14 a.m.

    If I was having a stab at the reason for the delay of Prey 2 i'd have to go with Dishonored. I've just watched the trailer and it's basically the same game with a steam punk setting, (free running, jumping off tall buildings, gadgets/time slowing mechanics). As Dishonored is slated for a 2012 release Bethesda wouldn't want the two games competing and so plummed for the game that wasn't a sci-fi FPS, considering that said sci-fi FPS is going to be competing with Halo 4 come Autumn time.
  • tiemaisis - April 26, 2012 6:29 a.m.

    Maybe they've improved their quality standards after Skyrim. Hah.

Showing 1-20 of 43 comments

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