Mo’ Beta BluesShawn Drotar

Posted on August 29th, 2007 in Gaming, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, News, Opinion by Shawn Drotar

Let’s look at the back of Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 08’s box, and read the Features section. Here are the first two listed:

ALL-NEW EA SPORTS GAMERNET

Now post your greatest rounds ad most awe-inspiring shots online and challenge the world to beat your best. Post your own or play against new challenges uploaded every day by other gamers Interactive user-generated content has come to sports gaming!

ALL-NEW PHOTO GAME FACE

Use real-life photographs of yourself to create in-game characters who look just like you. No artistic skills required!

***

Sounds good, right? After all, these new and exciting features were touted in early April on IGN with the subheader “the new Tiger changes golf forever”; the screenshots looked great and the impressions by IGN writers were entirely favorable even at that early stage.

So it’s reasonable to assume that nearly five months later - and after the game was released - that these features would at least function, right?

Oops.

While Gamernet seems to be working sporadically - at least from a console - the Photo Game Face feature is a complete no-go at this point. The site used to upload the photos, EASportsWorld.com (the game’s flimsy and not-very-informative manual says to go to tigerwoods08.com, but routes you to easportsworld), isn’t working correctly, and hasn’t been since at least the game’s launch. EA Sports World, which is in “beta”, is either unable to log users in, unable to upload their photos, or - if you get that far - has gotten the few uploaded photos mixed up, sending surprised gamers the wrong pictures when they try to create their online alter ego. There’s apparently a “freeze issue” in the game, as well - and how that relates to EA Sports World (if at all) is unknown.

Needless to say, consumers - many of which purchased the game in order to try out the new features, are rightly upset and disappointed, and there have been reports of game stores even accepting opened copies for return due to the fact that the game’s stated feature list is not available for use.

On the EA Sports Forums, a moderator known as “EAcom Golf Tim” left this message on multiple forums in response: “I just spoke to the Producer (sic) of the game and they are aware of the issues with EA Sportsworld and intermittent reports of online play lag as well as the freeze issue in one of the Career Mode events. The first few days of any new game release is a time to load balance the servers to optimize their performance now that users have the game. This could not be done prior to the game being shipped. Again, they are aware of the issues and are working behind the scenes to get them balanced and corrected ASAP.”

Although this shouldn’t be considered “official”, until EA properly addresses these problems, it’s all gamers have to go by. Of course, if learning about load-balancing was really necessary, a free pre-release beta - a la Call of Duty 4 - should have been in order, rather then sticking their most enthusiastic customers with a partially-functioning game.

The problem here is simple: EA used their “beta” website to launch a $60, decidedly non-beta product. EA put this game on shelves - making money from unsuspecting gamers - knowing full well that it’s two newest features don’t yet function correctly. Publishers have a responsibility to ensure that their games work - like they’re advertised to - the minute that a consumer unwraps it and puts that disc into their console.

Server load-balancing (assuming that is the real problem) isn’t the consumers’ responsibility, and early adopters shouldn’t be expected to become guinea pigs and post-release testers for a full-price product under any circumstances.

Using the excuse of “it’s in beta” won’t fly here, and it shouldn’t.

11 Responses to 'Mo’ Beta Blues'

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  1. opTIMus said,

    on August 29th, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    EA Sports. Nuff said….

  2. cch99 said,

    on August 29th, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    It really seems to me that EA is digging there own grave by continuing to do this will there products. Plus, when they market the crap out of these games then consistently let people down it will eventually catch up to them.

    It may take a while because they are so ingrained into sports gaming but IMO no one is infallible, it WILL eventually catch up to them.

  3. Dr Logic said,

    on August 29th, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    EA Sports does not care about consumers needs. They care about money. That has been evident with the truckload of incomplete next-gen titles(nba live 06-07′, madden 06-07′,fifa 06-07′etc… )which will undoubtabley lead into 2008-09′.
    Stop paying for adverstisements and start paying for better develpoment. It would be one thing if the majority of development companies out there were struggling to put out complete games, but they’re not. EA seems to have spread themselves a bit too thin with their plot to rule the sports video game world and are now running their company ass backwards.

    Dr Logic says: Build a complete, honest, worthy game and the hype will create itself.

    EA chooses to: Build a mountain of hype and then let the game develop itself, and piss a lot of people off in the process.

  4. pastapadre said,

    on August 29th, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    I’m right with you on all of this. You wouldn’t believe the number of hits my site has gotten since Tuesday with google search terms related to easportsworld not working.

    Whether it be the easportsworld problems, or online lag and disconnects, or broken leagues (2K), I don’t buy the “we just need time to optimize” crap. Especially when the main features for a game are related to it (Tiger) or you promote release day as a holiday (Madden). These things need to be working.

  5. nyisles16 said,

    on August 29th, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Next generation to me smells of $60 “beta test” releases.. Why do I need to shell out money for games that aren’t ready for, to quote Chris Berman, “Prime Tiiiime”? It seems that Homer Simpsons runs the testing at half of these companies… ugh.

  6. David said,

    on August 30th, 2007 at 7:12 am

    This also happened with NCAA and the use of EA Sports World in that title. The concept is neat, with the ability to upload personal pictures and actual replays taken from in-game situations. It’s just not reliable.

    What has me concerned is other content like online leagues. Will this same type of unreliable system also be in NHL 08 and its online leagues this Fall? Or, in the future, where Madden utilizes online leagues, will they be “bug free”, as David Ortiz (lead producer of the Madden series) claims?

    I doubt it.

  7. Terry said,

    on August 30th, 2007 at 8:26 am

    I can’t tell you how many times I sat there staring at “logging in” or “image uploaded. Waiting for server to process…”.

    So incredibly frustrating, and I agree…how the hell can they NOT expect Tiger to sell a bunch of copies at launch? Simply ridiculous.

  8. Terry said,

    on August 30th, 2007 at 8:27 am

    Classic picture of Tiger, too. Forgot to mention that. One of those little things that may go unnoticed, but I bet you took some time to find that shot…absolutely perfect :D

  9. Brad said,

    on September 4th, 2007 at 7:46 am

    I am glad I don’t play games much anymore.


  10. on September 4th, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    […] Mo’ Beta Blues […]


  11. on September 10th, 2007 at 11:13 am

    […] Mo’ Beta Blues […]

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