'Bethesda, DICE and Gearbox are cowboy developers'

Is it time to contact Watchdog?

On last week's mailbox Adam Cafolla got in touch to say, despite becoming hopelessly addicted to Angry Birds, he doesn't think there's a mobile game out there that comes close to the quality of a decent console release.

This week Jonathan Park got in touch to have a pop at Bethesda, which he brands as a bunch of 'cowboy developers' because of its shoddy work on the PlayStation 3 version of Skyrim. We'll let him explain...

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FUS-ROH-Damn that is a busted game...

When a builder does a poor job they're labelled a cowboy. This got me to thinking. 'Cowboy' should not be unique to shoddy tradesmen and films with John Wayne. No. It should be directed at developers who allow their work to not only be released incomplete, but fail with their efforts (or to offer none at all) to set these problems right.

Bethesda are guilty of providing a substandard edition of Skyrim to PS3 owners. DICE are guilty of providing substandard voice chat for Battlefield 3. Gearbox are guilty of the same with Borderlands. At present at least two of these still ring true.

Skyrim can still suffer from horrible slowdown that can make it unplayable, while BF3 has voice chat so intermittent it resembles the noise Radio 1 attempts to pass off as music. These people deserve the label 'cowboy developers'. That Bethesda failed to realise the problem during beta testing is unprofessional.

Naughty Dog and Rocksteady juiced every ounce of power from the console while keeping things smooth to release two game-of-the-year offerings. That proves the tools are not to blame. Maybe the tools are difficult to master, but that's why they're paid for the trouble.

I haven't played Skyrim since I began to experience slowdown, other than once after the most recent patch to see only minor improvement. I've barely played Battlefield 3 because my friends and I cannot communicate - chaos ensues. We paid for these games but have not been able to truly experience them. Value for money has most certainly not been had.

It's also leading to concern about new releases - Mass Effect 3 and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - as to whether I should buy on PC. It's disappointing as the devs are letting Sony down.

PSM3 says: Testing is a difficult business and the financial pressure to release a game can be huge, but you have a point. Finishing games post-release - with your customers as testers - may be attractive short term, but it can have serious knock-on effects. A growing suspicion that the next game will be problematic could easily lead to lost day-one sales - and we all know how vital those are to publishers.

CVG says: It's difficult to argue against the considering how much of a botched job Skyrim on PS3 is, not just in terms of the product as it launched but also the numerous failed attempts at cleaning it up post-release. It's a real shame because Skyrim is utterly brilliant. Thems the breaks of blockbuster game development unfortunately.