A British consumer lobby group by the name of Gamers’ Voice has promised to report Activision to “the relevant authorities” over what they deem the “unfinished” versions of Call of Duty: Black Ops that were released for the PC and PlayStation 3. The group, which was founded in 2009 by MP Tom Watson to combat negative press reports about the medium, released a post on their website stating that they have been “literally swamped with complaints and demands” to look into the myriad bugs that affected those two versions of the game, as well as other games with similar problems. They noted that gamers are “apparently being used as game testers for an extended period after a game’s release, yet being asked to pay for the privilege”. In an open letter to the Office of Fair Trading, the group likened the game in its current state to “buying a fridge-freezer only to find that the freezer component doesn’t work.”
The group contends that the games being released in this state is a violation of the Sale and Goods act of 1979, which states that goods sold must be as they’re described, be of satisfactory quality, and be fit for any purpose made known at the time of sale to the seller. According to the open letter to the OFT, the game fails on all three levels, including the last one as it is not entertaining due to the bugs.
In response, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter lashed out at what he called the “crybaby” group.
“All games are buggy, some more so than others. Have you tried Fallout: New Vegas? Buggiest game ever… I suppose this helps to explain why the game sold only 20 million copies instead of 25 million, and why it received only a 90 metacritic rating instead of 95 (sarcasm intended, in case you didn’t pick up on it)… If people don’t like it, they can take it back to retail for a refund. Most bugs are patched within a reasonable time, and any serious gamer expects bugs… It’s the role of game reviewers to lower scores if they see bugs, and the role of the gaming press to report on buggy games. Consumers have many ways of discovering how good a game is before they buy, and publishers usually act quickly to patch bugs. I own the 360 version, and it wasn’t particularly buggy, but I suppose I am more tolerant than most MPs (those ARE my initials).”
This drew a strongly worded rebuttal that, while ignoring the fact that Mr. Pachter does not develop games and only talks to investors, condemns his comments as “inaccurate, inflammatory and insulting to computer and video game consumers”. They took care to note that they were not being run by MP Watson, and that it shouldn’t be a case of returning the game to retailers because the games in question shouldn’t be released.
Ignoring the blatant inaccurate facts in Mr. Pachter’s “crybaby” rant – who would have thought – such as citing New Vegas’s Metacritic score (the PC game has an 85 score; the console versions are lower) and saying that it’s possible to return a PC game – I actually agree with the spirit of what he’s saying. It’s not really the job of government to ensure that games are released bug-free, it’s the job of consumers. It’s been obvious for awhile that the PC and PS3 versions of Call of Duty have been secondary to Activision, with Microsoft paying for limited exclusivity to map packs among other issues, but yet still, these games sell like no one’s business, even in the U.K., with a Ã‚Â£54.99 price tag. If you don’t like how Activision treats you, as a PS3 or PC gamer, here’s a novel idea: don’t buy the freaking game. Activision is motivated by one thing, and one thing only: money. Deprive them of that, and they will act.
Christopher Bowen is the News Editor at Diehard GameFAN. He has also written for Talking About Games, Daily Games News and Not A True Ending in his six years of working as a journalist in the industry, and is a frequent guest on the Post Game Report podcast. He specializes in issues relating to industry business, politics and law. Prior to joining the games industry, Christopher worked in IT as a Network Security Engineer and spent four years in the United States Navy, fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom before separating in 2004. He is engaged to Associate Editor Aileen Coe.