I saw some articles over the past couple of days talking about things like the new Assassin's Creed game coming out this year, Sony's DS4 controller issues, etc.. and a common phrase keeps popping up in my head. Whenever consumers voice complaints about the overall quality of a product, doesn't matter what the industry is, 90% of the time the PR response will be something along the lines of "We're sorry for any inconvenience you've had, this is a minor/isolated incident and we assure you that our products meet all of our standards for quality."
Now, I want to talk to you suits for a second. Your standards for quality are completely irrelevant. You're lying through your teeth and you know it. What you actually mean is "we did a cost/benefit ratio study and we found that our product 'works' at this minimum price for manufacturing it."
See, we aren't stupid. We've all seen that the quality of all kinds of products has greatly diminished over the years, while the price for said products has either remained the same, or increased. Every time we see this happen, it's met with the same message of said products meeting quality standards. Personally speaking, I can only conclude that either the company has lowered their standards, or they are just lying through their teeth. Probably both.
Look at the status of games today. While not yet an epidemic across the board, games like AC Unity are becoming more and more common. Heck, it started before AC Unity. Remember Skyrim on PS3? How about Dragon Age Inquisition? The Standards of Quality don't seem to be there, and if they are then they don't move beyond asking "does the character move? yes? sell it."
I saw an article saying that Ubisoft Montreal knew that Unity was broken and still launched it anyway because a delay would hurt the next game they were working on. This sounds like they are more concerned with the games they haven't released yet than they are the ones they are about to, but in reality quality is not something they care about at all. Timetable is. I've seen enough reused architecture and other assets across multiple AC games to know that they are cutting corners and phoning stuff in but still charging $60 plus now adding microtransactions for unfinished games.
You have people telling us that we should be paying developers more for games because they cost so much more to make. Barring the fact that that's not actually true, as if you look at the biggest games going back to the PS1 era, you'll see that after inflation the development costs are pretty much on par; and also not counting the fact that marketing and distribution budgets are drastically bloated for many games, there is a question that needs to be asked. Why is the gaming industry the only industry where consumers pay full price for half finished products or products that don't function to their fullest when released?
This wasn't even always the case with gaming. Anyone that owns a Super Nintendo knows that it's the Nokia phone of consoles. You could drop a nuke on that thing and it would still work. These days we have consoles you can't move an inch while on without worrying about it scratching your game disc, or consoles with such low quality solder that the chips inside shift and render your console useless.
Is that what passes for "quality" these days?
Returning to games for a minute, some people will say that games like AC need a break to get better. I'm sorry but that's not the problem. The problem with all quality issues is slightly about timing, but more about people. Say AC took a 10 year break. Say Ubisoft didn't change their staff much during that time. Do you think 10 years from now that that staff filled with people who have bad ideas and rush timetables will make a better AC game than they used to? I don't. Good games come from good ideas. Good ideas come from smart people. Smart people foster the good ideas of other smart people. Ubisoft, and other big publishers, are filled with too many people. There are too many egos and executives in the way. Poor communication and a rushed timetable will always mean a poorly made product, and then we get to hear the same answer when the inevitable complaints come up.
"This product meets our quality standards."
Well, I'm the one paying you the money for a game, that means it had better meet MY quality standards. Yours are irrelevant.