Once again, PC gamers have been reminded to never trust a console port on launch day.
Yesterday, Batman: Arkham Knight launched simultaneously on consoles and PC. It should have been a joyous occasion for PC-gaming Batman fans, but it wasn’t.
The problem? Arkham Knight’s PC port is apparently “disastrous,” “garbage,” and “suffering from major issues.” AMD and NVIDIA players are both reporting major framerate and audio problems, the game comes with a default 30 FPS cap, and the textures on PC are allegedly worse than the console versions.
The port is so bad that it’s earned the game “mostly negative” average Steam user reviews. Out of more than 6,000 reviews in the first 24 hours of launch, 70 percent are negative.
In a statement on the game’s forums, a Rocksteady Studios community manager said the company was working with the external team that handled the PC port to resolve the issues “as quickly as possible.”
For PC gamers, this story is all too familiar. We’ve repeatedly seen companies release ‘AAA’ games with buggy, broken PC ports. Last year, Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs launched on PC with loads of glitches and optimization problems. Months later, Ubisoft outdid itself with even more bugs and framerate issues for the Assassin’s Creed Unity port. Even beloved games like the first Dark Souls and Grand Theft Auto IV launched with notoriously bad PC ports.
The situation has gotten so dire that it’s now newsworthy when a PC port won’t have performance limitations: Earlier this week, PC Gamer published a post titled “Fallout 4 resolution and frame rate won’t be limited on PC.”
One consolation in the Arkham Knight debacle is that Steam now offers refunds to players who have played less than two hours and have owned the game for less than two weeks. Customers are already banding together to request refunds en masse, and Green Man Gaming is also offering refunds.
But game companies don’t want us to refund our games. They want us to play them, and we want to enjoy playable PC games.
So, here’s our message to developers: PC gamers will wait for a good port.
Sometimes, making sure a game runs well on PC requires extra time and effort. We get that. PC gamers will almost always forgive delays if the end result is a great game.
Case in point: Grand Theft Auto V.
Rockstar originally released GTA V on consoles back in September 2013. The PC port wasn’t released until April 2015, a full year and a half later. But the PC version came with loads of new features, and — most importantly — it wasn’t broken. It could handle online play and as many GTA 5 cheats you could throw at it.
In the first month, it sold more than 3 million copies on PC. Clearly, those customers weren’t too miffed about the wait.
We saw a similar case last year with Dark Souls 2. The PC port came out nearly three months after the console version, but unlike the original Dark Souls, it launched with the full suite of features and setting options we’d expect from a PC game, and with no restrictions to resolution or framerate. The result? It sold more than 900,000 copies on Steam in the first six months.
Arkham Knight likely could have avoided the wave of refunds and negative customer reviews if its publisher just waited until the PC port was ready.
These things take time. People understand. Your first round of customers don’t want to be beta testers.
They just want a working game.
By the way, Rockstar: While we’re on the subject of PC ports, we’ll keep waiting patiently for Red Dead Redemption.
Update: A few hours after this post went live, Warner Bros. Games announced they were halting sales of Arkham Knight on PC until the performance issues are fixed.