Warner. Bros Interactive knew that the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight had serious problems for months before the game was released, it’s been reported.
Batman: Arkham Knight came out last week on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, but it soon became clear that the PC version of the game – which had been ported by Iron Galaxy – had serious issues. As well as being locked to 30fps, Arkham Knight on PC was missing many of the console versions’ graphical features at launch. And despite the low frame rate cap, even high end machines struggle to run the game at a playable frame rate. Add in problems with texture streaming and the fact that the game would delete itself and reload whenever Steam verified its cached data, and Arkham Knight is one of the worst PC ports in recent memory.
The outcry surrounding the poor state of the game led to publisher Warner Bros. withdrawing it from sale last week, and developer Rocksteady – with a little help from Nvidia – is currently working hard on rectifying the game’s problems. One patch has already been released, but there’s a lot more work to be done – a process the publisher says is “significant” and “will take some time.”
Given the severity of the PC port’s issues, many have wondered how Warner Bros. could have possibly shipped the game unaware of its numerous deficiencies. The answer, according to two sources who worked on the QA testing for the game, is that they were well aware that the port was subpar – and decided to ship it anyway.
Speaking to Kotaku, the sources – who whished to remain anonymous so as to protect their career – both stated that Warner Bros. had decided that the PC port was “good enough” to be sold to consumers.
“I will say it’s pretty rich for WB to act like they had no idea the game was in such a horrible state,” one of the sources said. “It’s been like this for months and all the problems we see now were the exact same, unchanged, almost a year ago.”
The reason for the lack of polish on the PC version of the game was apparently down to problems with getting the console versions working properly, the sources claim. “Getting it to work on consoles was impossible for months. That’s part of why the game got delayed so many times, they were totally unprepared for how hard it was on next-gen consoles,” said one source.
These claims were backed up by another source, who told Kotaku that the new consoles were “not nearly as easy to work with as [Rocksteady] expected,” before saying that testers were told to concentrate on identifying bugs with the console versions at the expense of the PC version.
The entire QA team for Arkham Knight numbered around 100 people, it’s claimed. Of those, only 10% worked on the PC version. Additionally, Warner Bros. allegedly mandated that all bug checking on the PC version was carried out at 720p, and that 720p was used as the benchmark for the game’s system requirements – which might go some way to explain the game’s sluggish performance on even high-end hardware.
Warner Bros. is becoming a bit notorious now for releasing PC ports of dubious quality. The previous Batman game, Arkham Origins, had more than its share of issues on both PC and console, a state of affairs which led to us heavily penalizing the game’s score when it came to our review.Just a few months later, Warner Bros. announced that they would no longer continue working on bug fixes for the game. You can guess how well that went down with players.
More recently, the PC version of Mortal Kombat X drew gamers’ ire due to the bizarre decision to prevent people from downloading the full game until after launching it for the first time. This was eventually changed, but the game is plagued by a large number of other bugs, while patches apparently introduce as many new problems as they solve.
Whatever the reason for Arkham Knight‘s shockingly poor state on PC, we can only hope that the game is apparently patched up to something approaching a decent state. Buying a game you’ve been looking forward to, only to find that it’s completely broken, is never a pleasant experience – and there’s no justification to be foisting broken software on paying customers who expect, and deserve, better.
We’ve reached out to Warner Bros. for comment, and will update if we hear anything from them.