- Cities: Skylines 2 is out now and is yet another broken PC port.
- If the console port was delayed due to performance concerns and the devs admit the PC one is not done either, why release it then?
- With all these messed up releases, PC gaming is going through troubled times and the “release first, fix it later” approach needs to be discouraged.
PC gaming is great, isn’t it? Superior visual presets, higher performance, extreme customizability, and the versatile nature of the platform, what else can one ask for? Oh right, optimization! There’s a hidden side emerging recently to modern PC gaming, every game that comes out is a complete mess. What good is my high-end hardware if it struggles in games it never should simply because of the game’s optimization mess?
It’s honestly becoming quite an alarming issue for PC gaming, and as an avid PC-prioritizing consumer, it frustrates me. What’s even more troublesome is how console ports are generally well-optimized, and the PC is the only platform suffering, simply because stronger hardware is available on PC anyway, so why focus on optimizing when we can just issue insane system requirements? And it seems the trend has no plans of stopping, as Cities: Skylines 2 releases with the same problems.
Cities: Skylines 2 — Why Release A Port You Know Is Broken?
Let me ask you something. If you’re creating something and know it still requires some tweaking, would you go ahead and present it without finishing the final touches? Knowing full well it would cause a controversy? I’m sure you won’t. Who would want their product to be badmouthed for reasons they know are genuine? You’d do your best to make sure no problems persist. And that is what genuinely shocked me about Cities: Skylines 2.
Before the game’s release, the sudden increase in system requirements raised some eyebrows. What followed was the developers’s statement that they admit the game didn’t quite reach the benchmark they had envisioned, yet decided to proceed with the release as the best move going forward. According to them, they believed in coming clean, but I wonder if they knew the game was not yet polished enough, why release it? What merit is there in admitting a game is broken and then releasing it?
It’s like indirectly warning players not to play the game. I fail to see the reasons behind this decision. I’m not blaming the developer entirely as these sorts of decisions are generally influenced by the publishers’ demands and emerging deadlines, but even the publisher should see the priority. Is it wise to release a broken game on a perfect schedule, or tolerate some delay but put forward a highly polished one? I don’t think the outcry would have been as high on a delay rather than admitting to releasing a broken game.
Are Consoles The Only Thing That Matters?
And it’s not like a delay was completely off the table either. Alongside the increased system requirements, the second announcement was of a delay of console ports, with the reason being performance concerns yet unaddressed. Once again, let me ask, If the developer knew the game still had performance issues and decided to delay the console port, why were PC users punished with a rushed and unfinished release? Were consoles a higher priority for Cities: Skylines 2?
Consider this situation for a moment. Delaying a game raises criticism for not delivering a product on time, yes? Releasing on one platform gives an assurance that the game will surely come out while avoiding some of the criticism. But this decision to release a broken game on PC has in truth backfired as the PC players are complaining and console users are relieved they dodged a bullet. Wouldn’t it have been better to delay the game entirely instead of just agonizing PC players?
If you had asked me around 2 years earlier about what to get between a PC or a console, I would have given you ample reason to consider PC gaming. But now, I say this with a broken heart that being a PC gamer, especially mid-range, is getting harder these days. Almost all major releases of the past year and a half have consistently been riddled with performance issues. What’s cruel is that although some games are problematic on consoles too, most of them run pretty fine.
We Knew Cities: Skylines 2 Would Be A Mess, And It Is
For simulation and city-building fans, Cities: Skylines was a big deal. It was an exquisite simulation with a ton of possibilities. Thus, a sequel was enormous news and it was one of the highly anticipated releases of the year. However, things started going south close to the release. The first red flag was the console delay and the sudden increase in system requirements. I immediately thought here comes trouble, and now I’m regretting I was right. Colossal Order’s statement followed soon afterward.
After hearing the developer say the desired performance was not reached, that was a dead giveaway that we had another broken port on our hands. And the reality is as we all feared, the game carries enormous performance issues. You can get an idea of the severity of the situation by how the game shows struggle even on a 4090. I understand the simulation game has to render a lot of content, but the improvements over the first game are not so much as to warrant this insane performance dip.
Although the developer promised consistent improvements, doesn’t change the fact that Cities: Skylines 2 is quite a mess right now. Reports are flooding in of poor performance and crashes on even high-end systems. If 3090 and 4090 users are dropping below 30 fps, my rather mid-range hardware’s problems start feeling small. Fans are actively trying to look for some tweaking to improve the performance, but there’s only so much they can fix. There’s no remedy to this broken port and PC gamers’ devastation.
I’d Take A Delay Over A Ruined Port Anyday
I know this might be an unpopular opinion, but I’ll say it anyway; if I’m given a choice between a broken game now or a delay, I’ll just pick the delay without a second thought. I’ve seen enough broken ports to not risk it. I just find the “release now, fix later” approach to be highly problematic. Why even release a broken game like Cities: Skylines 2 in the first place? Take your time and polish it instead of rushing through with the release and relying on post-launch fixes, it hardly works out.
You might disagree by presenting CyberPunk 2077’s immense redemption example, so let me answer that. First thing, CyberPunk had performance issues indeed, but that was just a part of a bigger picture, the game was messed up in more than one way. Second, look at how much time it took CyberPunk to recover. The damage of the poor release was quite severe, and although it is a colossal improvement now, the fact remains that the game took its sweet time getting fixed. Last, not everyone is CD Projekt Red.
Once an image is created, erasing it is easier said than done. Take a look at all the Cities: Skyline 2 backlash. If a game launches in a broken state and the people are disappointed, winning their hearts back is no easy feat. Thus, why risk going forward with a ruined release? I think it’s better to bear the momentary brunt of a delay than to present a product that utterly ruins its reputation. Of course, infinite delays with absolutely no release date in sight like the infamous StarCitizen is a different thing, that’s an outlier case I do not support.
Please, No More Broken PC Releases
As I mentioned earlier, I had solid reasons for preferring delays over broken releases. The situation for PC ports has been highly grim recently. Pick up any major release from the past year and a half, and a solid chunk of them are bad ports. This has traumatized PC gamers so much that whenever a new release arrives now, the first thing we fear is the performance. Even when Alan Wake 2 issued its high system requirements, no one thought even for a moment it might be that good, and just the fear of optimization engulfed them.
And who can blame them, PC ports have truly been that bad. Still, most of all, I fear for the future of PC gaming. Imagine you spend a fortune on building a PC with state-of-the-art hardware to run anything you wish, and then dread seeing a game running better on a $500 console. Your PC has a ton more power and potential to run it better, but games like Cities: Skylines 2 say otherwise. Wouldn’t you start thinking that why spend on a powerhouse when a console can run the games better anyway?
In conclusion, PC gaming is already going through a crisis, we didn’t need a broken Cities: Skylines 2 that the developers knowingly put forward. And it’s not the developers’ fault entirely either. Publishers and investors need to consider their demands and the time allowed for it more leniently. Plus, the mentality of “It’s okay to release a poorly optimized game on PC, consumers just need to upgrade the hardware to the best available” needs to be addressed first of all. As a longtime PC gamer and fan, I sincerely hope some improvements arrive.
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