I’ve noticed a trend recently that would seem to be in line with the old “all big AAA games release as buggy messes” notion that gamers have had for a while. And yet as time goes on, I’m starting to believe maybe that’s a lot more inaccurate than all the frequently posted examples may suggest.
Sometimes yes, there are clear, widespread problems with games. Cyberpunk’s disastrous performance on last-gen consoles. Online game launchers with tanked servers. There are certainly universal truths when it comes to launch missteps.
And yet for individual “glitch” bugs, I believe that for certain games, they are being drastically overreported for one of two reasons.
First, this is the age of social media. When you encounter a funny bug you are likely to post it for others to see and laugh at on Twitter, Instagram or TikTok. The same thing for just an annoying one, as you may post that in frustration. So, this creates a stream of posted bugs that may suggest the game is “launching buggy” when in fact, you may be seeing 100-200 bugs on your timeline out of a playerbase of millions, and the funniest of them are being amplified with thousands of likes and reposts.
Second, this is an age of console wars. An age that will never end, it seems. I have seen bugs in games like Starfield and Spider-Man 2 weaponized as so-called evidence that Microsoft or Sony, Bethesda or Insomniac, has released an unfinished, technically poor game. Sometimes they’re the glitches seen above, sometimes they’re the famous “you can’t shoot fruit in Halo” nitpicks or the last-gen Spider-Man 1 puddles.
Other times, I’ve seen things get downright malicious. In Starfield, I’ve seen photo mode used to show NPCs at the worst possible angles in the worst possibly lighting in order to make them look like Frankenstein. Now, in Spider-Man, I’m seeing people use photo mode to move Spider-Man around to glitch through pedestrians in ways he wouldn’t normally in game, and take photos of that. Wild.
Some of this may be my personal experience trickling in. In 100 hours of Starfield before review, I saw no more than a handful of bugs, mostly just goofy ones like people standing on tables or sprinting into walls. It was easily the least buggy Bethesda release, I mean, possibly ever, all things considered.
My own Spider-Man 2 playthrough yielded perhaps one bug of a guy or two getting stuck in a wall during fights. Who among us have never played a brawler where someone gets stuck in a wall?
Not to say that people are not encountering problems with these games, certainly they are. AAA release don’t arrive with zero bugs for every player. But I do think social media attention-seeking (which can be in a fun way!) or console warring (which is really never in a fun way) may be contributing to the perception that these games are buggier than they are.