Reputation Management

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Intended to save the franchise from certain death after taking a year off due to concerns over declining quality, the 2015 iteration of Need for Speed was instead a lackluster effort, universally panned by both critics and those who purchased the game on their own accord. Citing a poor handling model, lack of customization features, repetitive Single Player campaign, heavily scripted artificial intelligence, and a haphazard implementation of online racing, Need for Speed 2015 is a game most people will likely avoid when the PC version of the title launches early next year. According to rumors leaked a while back, you probably won’t see another one, either.

While these gripes may sound like the obsessive rants of diehard Need for Speed fans who feel wronged by yet another shift in direction, judging by the reception from Metacritic-approved publications, it’s clear that Electronic Arts quickly threw together an uninspiring open world racing game with the Need for Speed label to turn a quick profit in time for the holidays.

Metacritic Quotes

The game’s official Subreddit, once used as the anchor for the community surrounding the closed beta, is now constantly bombarded by unhappy racers wondering what in the world they just bought. Physics issues pop up multiple times on the same page, with seasoned racing game veterans criticizing the game’s auto-drift handling model that occasionally takes steering inputs completely out of the hands of the player. Law Enforcement and Opponent AI is routinely mocked for being temporary distractions instead of a very tangible threat to the player’s success. Those who have fallen in love with certain cars are appalled by the customization restrictions placed on many prominent brands within the game such as Ferrari, Honda, and Nissan thanks to extremely tight licensing agreements, with some users opting to instead re-install 2004’s Need for Speed Underground 2.

The negativity surrounding the new Need for Speed title is not the result of hardcore computer nerds with unrealistic expectations, as driving game aficionado and YouTube personality FailRace has churned out just under 80 minutes worth of footage explaining precisely why you should outright ignore the 2015 iteration of the long running series, and instead resort to a game many of you played during your childhood or adolescent years.

To summarize the 79 minutes of footage above, Need for Speed 2015 was designed with the sole intention to print money and capitalize on those who longed to travel back in time and re-experience their first few hours with the fantastic Underground 2. Everywhere you look, something is missing, broken, or has been done better somewhere else. The list of complaints surrounding Need for Speed 2015 on Reddit alone is so comprehensive, it’s actually impossible to filter through everything and tell the readers of PRC.net that “the main problem with NFS 2015 is _______.”

Framerate issues, rubberbanding AI, no concrete option for online racing, restricted customization options, goofy garage organization, a handling model that literally takes control of your car away from you, embarrassing Single Player campaign elements… The whole thing is a fucking mess, and most people who have attempted to sink some serious time into the game are rightfully pissed. I urge you to at least have a look through the official Subreddit, because there’s no way in hell I can convey the sheer multitude of problems with NFS 2015. It’s not chalk full of Project CARS-like technical glitches, the game instead suffers from an endless supply of bad design choices that combine like pieces of Exodia to form an unholy mess.

But of course, this wave of dissent wouldn’t be complete without a few apologists to counteract the constant bombardment of negativity. Those who are voicing VERY REAL concerns with the quality of the game are now being told to “get over it” by aggressive fanboys convinced that the general population just doesn’t understand what Need for Speed 2015 was trying to achieve. Both of these individuals outright ignore the fact that multiple aspects of the game are either frustrating or boring players to the point where some have already abandoned the title mere weeks after launch, cautioning potential buyers to avoid the PC version.

It’s easy to pass these two posts off as diehard Need for Speed apologists, locked into a Stockholm Syndrome-like relationship with a franchise that was never really all that good to begin with, but their blind love of Need for Speed 2015 is confusing to someone like myself who’s been into video games since the late 1990’s. This was a game universally panned by almost everyone, and who’s Subreddit is currently overflowing with people who have more or less given up on the title. Unlike Assetto Corsa, where opinions of the title vary based on the message board and users involved within the discussion, the overall consensus is that NFS 2015 sucked dick.

So I find it extremely weird for these kinds of hardcore apologists to show up in a sea of negativity, and essentially blame the community for not enjoying an objectively bad racing game with several prominent gameplay issues. A few mouse clicks later, and the most basic of detective work led me to discover these accounts were active primarily on the Need for Speed SubReddit, joining the site at the exact time the Closed Beta went live to a handful of participants.

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I hate to be the resident autist leading a witch hunt against random users on Reddit, but you can check things out for yourself HERE and HERE. Both threads essentially tell people to stop whining about a game that by all accounts failed to live up to a fraction of the hype, and shipped with several gameplay mechanics that infuriated players. User bambino444 downplays the unresponsive, intrusive controls addressed at length in the FailRace video above by claiming players should just “adapt” to the game’s poor handling model, afterwards describing those upset with the well-documented problems as “anal retentive.” 

  • The term anal retentive (also anally retentive), commonly abbreviated to anal, is used to describe a person who pays such attention to detail that the obsession becomes an annoyance to others, potentially to the detriment of the anal-retentive person.

Reddit user WASIM04 goes on a slightly longer tirade, initially saying some of the problems people are having with the game “aren’t problems”, and that another EA product, Battlefield 4 (running on the same engine as Need for Speed), took nearly two years after to approach a satisfactory state. Both users straight up dickride Ghost Games a lot more than a consumer ever should. Sympathizing with the developer for putting out a shitty product doesn’t magically make your game better, and as a consumer, it’s not your job to blindly praise a sub-par product or attack other community members for not enjoying a random product available on the shelf at Wal-Mart.

Or, you know, maybe it is. A tactic once reserved for shitty Mel Gibson movies, viral marketing – paying people to blindly praise a game and generate false hype via word of mouth on popular discussion forums – is now par for the course in 2015. In fact, Slightly Mad Studios took this approach to the extreme with their massive crowdfunding investment scheme with Project CARS.

Enter the world of Reputation Management, or what we like to call Shilling. Not two weeks ago, news broke of Electronic Arts being heavily involved within the Star Wars Battlefront SubReddit, bribing moderators to silence criticism of the latest first-person shooter set to capitalize on the upcoming The Force Awakens theatrical release.

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It may be entirely possible that the two dudes shown above might just really like Need for Speed and be tired of the endless stream of negativity shitting up what was once an extremely active discussion forum.

However, if you don’t want me to draw the conclusions I’ve made above, don’t make it so bloody easy in the first place. In a forum where there’s almost unanimous hate for the new Need for Speed title, and everything from the game’s poor controls to empty customization features have been slaughtered by the community several times over, two individuals attacking the community for daring to mention VERY REAL gameplay issues is a giant red flag. When a a couple mouse clicks discover that these two members appeared to discuss solely Need for Speed right when the Closed Beta dropped, almost to the day, coupled with the tendency for Electronic Arts to have heavy involvement in how their games are presented on Reddit… You’re either looking at two guys who literally suffer from Battered Wife Syndrome over video games, or viral marketers desperate to save what’s left of Need for Speed’s reputation by aggressively attacking the very community surrounding it.

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20 thoughts on “Reputation Management

  1. Are two poorly written posts shilling an obviously terrible game worth such a lengthy article?

    If Ghost/EA is actually responsible, they should choose their apologists with greater care.

    Like

    1. have to agree.

      Yet it is apparently not the sincere interest for the PRC guys to properly lead any discussion through this outlet of thoughts. If it were – would this site not feature a more competent layout and make it easier to follow related articles?
      Given the vastly off-topic nature of this story, I am almost thinking “click-bait”. Almost – since there have been many articles in the past that actually had some substance to them.

      On the topic of NFS. It is a brand – that’s all it is. And that brand has been shoe-horned into every sub-genre of racing games imaginable in the past. Or maybe the relevant play-styles rather have been attempted to be injected into the brand. What started as a pure and simple racing-game with the original “The Need For Speed” which brought about some licensed 4-wheeled exotics and put them on some very colourful, fictional tracks that were designed to allow for those cars to shine in their best light…. …quickly moved away there-from and was turned into a brand that would supply a hungry player-base with ever novel, trendy pieces of fast-food. Designed to spoil your appetite – for only so long it takes EA to push out the next juicy hot-dog of a game. Designed to sell as long as the three letters “nfs” appear in the title.

      I was actually surprised to read in the comments this last week that I am not alone in saying the franchise lost it’s appeal pretty much with everything that came after NFS-Porsche – one of my genuine favourite PC(!)-racers of all time. Why P.C.? Simply because the console-version of the same name was a completely different game – and less appealing to the kind of armchair-racer crowd that I would count myself part of. Seems like a good chunk of today’s simracers that grew up around those games at that time happen to have similar feelings towards this topic.

      But hey: it’s just a distant memory of a formerly-“good” EA games-line. Nothing that most of us grown men&women really tend to invest much thought into, today. Some of us have kids around the age to be old enough to start caring for such stuff.

      Electronic Art’s NFS-line today is just a dead horse of a brand. Nothing to see here. But hey, at least they have the money to effin’ do whatever they want with it – maybe even produce the next 5 NFS-games… …might even produce something with entertainment value in it – who knows. Certainly with all the production-value that goes into games these days, there’s got to be some capable talent contracted/working for them.

      So yes – still not convinced this had to be presented on the front-page of a sim-racing – centred blog – pushing more relevant articles down into the quicksand – but then again: interesting read in it’s own right.

      So thanks for the “warning”, I guess 😛

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  2. It’s not chalk full of Project CARS-like technical glitches, the game instead suffers from an endless supply of bad design choices that combine like pieces of Exodia to form an unholy mess.

    When I came to PRC this morning I certainly wasn’t expecting a Yu-Gi-Oh! reference, well done sir.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. people get mad at AC but look at the flaws for this.

    – bad AI, doesnt even race properly
    – no difficulty, just luck
    – no ffb(due to no wheel support)
    – inconsistent customization
    – no logical reason to upgrade cars when ai doesnt change
    – believe it or not the physics arent realistic
    – no green hell
    – only night
    – a literal filter to make the game look worse
    – An ferrari F40 being faster then a 911 GT3 RS(seriously how does that remotely work)
    – no mod support
    – no realroad support
    – no pits
    – the foolish people in the campaign.
    – no laserscanning
    – James didnt market it
    – Assicioator and Hex hate it so much they didnt even bother to screenshot many forum threads and spam the comments about it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. 997 GT3 RS 3.8 = 450hp
        997 GT3 RS 4.0 = 500hp
        991 GT3 RS 4.0 = 500hp
        Ferrari F40 = 475hp

        The only reason why an F40 would be faster than a GT3 is a) it’s up against the 997 GT3RS 3.8 or all the other Porsche cars have shorter gear ratios.

        Like

      2. really?
        I’d guess around the narrower, twisty tracks, a more-recent RS3 would probably be faster. The 991 offspring would probably leave it for good on any track – because:
        20+ years of progress in chassis and tyres + automated dual-clutch transmission == no contest!

        The F40 is still an awesome car, though! Probably more with more soul than any modern Porsche.

        Like

    1. >no green hell
      >always night
      >no pits
      >no laserscanning
      This is a street racing game. I bet you complain the same with Tokyo Xtreme Racer.

      >no mod support
      Give it weeks or months after the PC ver. is out, and the hackers will do their best.

      >James didnt market it
      >Assicioator and Hex hate it so much they didnt even bother to screenshot many forum threads and spam the comments about it.
      ( ಠ_ಠ )

      TL;DR you’re bait a shit.

      Like

  4. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from simracing, it’s that if you like anything you are most definitely a shill. Why would anybody ever like anything?

    Like

    1. With how many people within the community have been proven to have ties to various developers, the paranoia over shilling is kind of reasonable.

      Like

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