Were any of the earlier Total War games buggy? Cause Empire Total War seems to be really really buggy, apparently their forum's been in quite an uproar over all the stability and AI issues. Creative Assembly did get bought by Sega. Perhaps that's had something to do with the recent drop in quality and polish. I just think it's pretty awful that the game got reviews of 9s and 9.5s when there were these stability issues. Just one more reason game reviews are increasingly irrelevant.
I don't really accept that because it's a pc game rather then a console game, we the consumers should put up with buggy releases. It's just not right. And sure, older games used to need patching too, but there's a huge difference from patching in a weird wall texture or a minor AI bug, to games just crashing at startup, or crashing to desktop once an hour.
And I do think a game can be profitably finished. People are much more likely to buy a game that they know is stable and will run well then one that's unoptimized and prone to crashing. See, that's part of the reason why so many people pirate games nowadays. Part of it's because it's simply not fun to buy a 50 dollar disc that doesn't run well, and no game store these days let's you return an opened game.
The whole reason PC games are so buggy compared to consoles is because of the plethora of hardware combinations. Well, I think the hardware people need to talk to the software people... form some sort of alliance, get some sort of standardization going. They both need each other. Nvidia and ATI create cards because of gamers playing new games. Game developers can't create new games without the better hardware. They depend on each other and they need to fucking get their shit together or PC gaming's just going to die.
I think a big part of the problem is that now games are a big business and the head honchos want to pump out at least one title every year to appease the shareholders. Whereas back in the old days, games were still a pretty small market and we were used to waiting a few years for a particular game to get developed.
Really, I wonder how long FreeSpace 2's development cycle was. Cause if ever there was a game that was perfectly polished and stable on launch, that's the one I'd point to. It got one patch, but I think that was just correcting some minor multiplayer issues.