I think a part of it is the codebase is very old and crusty by now by gamedev standards, and gamedev isn’t known for engineering for maintainability in the first place, so changes are hard and it’s easy to get into a pattern where only the people who already know the code dare change it. Over time they leave or move onto other things and core code maintenance becomes a bottleneck.
One of the strangest things in the game industry is how little many devs actually play their own games. I had one who works for a AAA studio tell me in confidence that it was because once you’ve seen how the sausage is made you can’t enjoy it, sitting in meetings about how to maximize “player engagement” which is basically just grinding to keep people playing your product apparently takes away the magic.
Any CA dev I’ve ever seen stream the game is a casual player at best, and it consistently baffles me. But it explains why they don’t care about maintenance, they don’t actually play the thing.
CA responded to the complaints and they let a suit do it, so it went about as well as expected.
Near as I can tell at least half of the playerbase is in the “let it burn” camp now.
Went to Reddit to see what you meant, and yeah, yikes. Fans are pissed, what a way to piss them off further I guess.
To save a click:
Hello everyone! Sharing a message from Creative Assembly regarding the recent pricing discussions surrounding the Total War DLC:
Hi everyone. I’m Rob Bartholomew, Chief Product Officer here at Creative Assembly.
First off, I’d like to thank you for making your voices heard over the past week. Hopefully longer-term Total War fans know that even when we’re quiet, we’re always listening to everything you have to say to us. We’ve had many conversations about it internally and would like to shed some light on the situation.
Last week, we revealed the latest DLC for Total War: WARHAMMER III – Shadows of Change, bringing The Changeling, Yuan Bo, Mother Ostankya and more to the game. The teams have been hard at work on this for some time and we are excited for you to get your hands on it.
To get right into it: our costs are up. Unfortunately, that means that prices have to rise. We know any increase is going to be tough, which is why our prices have remained fairly stable over the past few years. The downside is that any increase today is going to be more noticeable.
There’s no good time to increase prices, and we have not taken this step lightly. However, this is the business reality of supporting WARHAMMER III and ensuring we’re able to offer the years of extra content that are currently planned.
That said, we do need to challenge ourselves to ensure that this cost still offers good value. Ultimately, that’s up to each of you to decide and we’ll keep trying to balance that. Of course, we want more people to play, we want to continue to deliver content you’re excited to see, and we want to do that for as long as we can.
To share more on WARHAMMER III specifically, here is an update from Rich Aldridge, Senior Game Director:
With Shadows of Change, we wanted to somewhat break the mould of past DLCs to ensure that we could bring you as much content variety as possible. You all have your favourite lords, heroes and races to play, and restricting our products to a single race or faction hasn’t always met your expectations. We also hoped this would improve the pace at which we’re able to get content to you, which has been a challenge.
I’m really excited by what we’ve created in Shadows of Change and Update 4.0. The Changeling plays like no other in the series. Scheming and tricking your enemies into conflict with one another whilst leeching off other settlements feels great and we really hope it opens up new gameplay opportunities.
I’m equally itching to see how you get on with Yuan Bo the Jade Dragon and Mother Ostankya, two new characters for the series and WARHAMMER world, both of whom have their own agendas and are ruthless in their actions.
Talking of the patch, it offers a host of fixes as you might expect, including Nakai once again being able to use his Kroxigors, Bretonnian vows now progressing correctly in campaign for Damsels, ranged units no longer running headfirst into melee when out of ammo, and Cathay Legendary Lords now having magical items. But that’s just a few of the changes. Look out for our full patch notes closer to release.
To wrap up, I can’t stress enough how much the team and I want the best for the game, and to provide you with fun and memorable experiences. Changing the content formula, and making other improvements behind the scenes, is designed to help us to do exactly that. We’ll keep assessing and iterating as we stay on this path.
Thanks as always for your support and voicing your concerns. Both are important to us. I hope you enjoy Shadows of Change once it’s in your hands.
So, to recap - we know this is a tough change for some of our players. We know this may mean some of you wait for future discounts or sales. And we know that this explanation does not make the situation any easier. But it’s important for you to hear from us and we hope that, if nothing else, this helps clarify why this decision has been made.
Finally, we need to ask you again to stop directing abuse at individual team members. Frustrated as you may get, these are human beings who spend many hours representing you and your voices within the studio. All of our work gets easier when they are treated with respect.
Rob Bartholomew, Chief Product Officer, Creative Assembly
I am so disappointed in CA for doing this to a franchise I love. I agree, letting someone like this guy come out and say well, everything is up so deal with it isn’t the best approach to take given that the rise of cost also affects the consumer too.
Given the amount of content, the price doesn’t warrant it. Throw in some more units, heroes, lords and people will be less angry. I just hope they recalibrate this for the next expansion with Nurgle in the late fall/winter.
Holy cow did they ever fuck up. Question is, does CA learn from it, or do they draw up camp and ignore the fans discourse. I think a lot of people have canceled pre-orders of Pharoah.
Well the hope is they realize that if they are to charge more, they have to provide a quality product with enough content to warrant the price. What they are offering in this dlc doesn’t warrant the price of almost half the game price. Let’s hope they learn from this as I think they know there is still a lot left to release for this game and if done right, people will pay for it.
If they don’t, well they would potentially lose a customer in me who is old school enough to have played the first Total War.
I just want them to fix the longstanding bugs and issues they seem to want to pretend don’t exist. I’d “almost” pay for a DLC to just do that at this point. Gah.
But seriously, it could happen, but it wont any time soon. Or possibly ever, because now that CA has burned nearly their entire audience between this and the 3K debacle, I can’t see anyone really sticking around and papa SEGA will eventually dismantle them if it goes on long enough. Them burning a pile of money on Hyenas for some fucking reason wont help the equation.
I had seen people mention Hyenas and I just assumed it was a codename for an unannounced game that would release sometime after Pharaoh. I just googled it and… that looks really bad, not to mention completely outside their wheelhouse.
I have to agree with the YouTube comments that mention it looks like chasing a fad that is years in the rearview mirror.
From my experience as an amateur game dev, it’s not just that. The problem (or my problem, at least) is that when I play a game I’ve made, it’s very, very hard to switch of that part of your brain that does analysis, bug-hunting, and evaluation and simply enjoy the game. You know how things are supposed to work, so you’re always looking at does it actually work as intended. I’m sure there are some game developers who can do this - but I suspect for most people - it is impossible.
So we’ve had 56% inflation have we (or 31% if you go with Vampires or Tomb Kings pricing)?
I mean, a steak burrito with guac and tax is almost $14 at my local Chipotle so maybe?
Also isn’t Creative Assembly based in the UK which has had the highest inflation in the western/developed world.
Isn’t a large proportion of a game devs cost in wages? Nominal wages have not climbed significantly in most economies, and real wages have gone down.
I’m guessing anyway, server costs, it equipment, and officd space is the only other thing I can think of.
All that doesn’t excuse the fact that they only release patches now when they release DLC, and have numourous errors they havent fixed that has been in the game for quite some time. It SEEMS clear that the game hasn’t sold enough to pay for continuous fixing according to the suits, but only with the release of DLC and then the price has to increase as well.
I REALLY hope they don’t carry this practice on to Pharaoh as well, because TW3 has been a significant disappointment.
Right, but software engineer wages in SE England might not follow the average.
I don’t think it’s about whether the game sold well enough (it certainly did ok), it’s about the team’s capability to do maintenance work. Which does depend on investment, but also on the capability of the engineers, the amount of tech debt, and the quality of the processes.
TW3 didn’t work for me because I didn’t really enjoy most of the factions and because the settlement battles asked too much of the engine and weren’t fun, not because of bugs or campaign issues. Also the map areas added in TW3 were less “iconic” for me than those in previous versions. Nostalgia is a powerful force!
Change for the sake of change is a stupid thing they did too many times in TW3.
It’s fixable if they put the resources into it. But apparently they’ve only got 1 coder working on the game, and 19 others to help with the DLC. Bare minimum of staff to maintain it. Kinda ridiculous with as many problems as the game has.
I understand why they wanted to change city and settlement battles. TW2 Settlements were too hard to defend, and city battles were tedious and cheesy.
Unfortunately they invested a bunch of dev time and either were too invested in their vision to realize they had a problem or didn’t have time / ability (c.f increasing technical debt) to iterate and make something good.