Why do video games like Cyberpunk 2077, Valorant suffer from errors, glitches at the onset?

The list of problems with Cyberpunk at launch were actually quite large, many of them were patched over before the majority of players even had a chance to play the game.

Anand Krishnaswamy March 24, 2021 13:35:02 IST
Why do video games like Cyberpunk 2077, Valorant suffer from errors, glitches at the onset?

Cyberpunk 2077

As the gaming industry evolves and the money involved increases (expected to be worth Rs 143 billion by 2022 for India as per Statista.com), so does expectations of gamers. Over the last year, technological shifts have taken place and now real-time ray-tracing is part of the package with most new games.

With all of these improvements, there is one factor that is still a constant: many video games at the time of release have several glitches and errors that impact the gaming experience. As a matter of fact, the issues related to glitches is not just among new games, many already existing games develop these glitches and, in some cases, this even leads to an emergency attempt to patch it over by the game developer.

This brings up an important question, why do problems and glitches occur in video games? Given all the technological advancements is there no solution to ensure that these issues don’t crop up in a game at the time of release to the public?

To answer this question, it is important to understand the kind of problems that can arise in a video game. Just looking at the recent issues that have come to notice, there were the launch day problems with Cyberpunk 2077—which according to many was the most awaited game in quite some time—and then there is even the more recent error in Valorant that has been making it impossible for some players to play the game.

The list of problems with Cyberpunk at launch were actually quite large, many of them were patched over before the majority of players even had a chance to play the game. The game for PC was 57 GB in size and the update released to fix the known problems in the game stood at 60 GB. This hints at just how many errors were fixed in the game. Despite this patch, a few problems still crept into the final game. In my time playing the game, I still ended up in a situation where I was required to interact with an in-game item to progress the game and this item, due to an error, had gone missing, forcing me to restart the game from the last save point. Other than the usual glitches there was also the issue of many people finding the game unplayable on Sony’s PlayStation 4 (PS4) and this prompted Sony to completely take the game off their online store.

Valorant Shipping Error 0xc0000005 is the issue that has made the game unplayable for several players post a recent update by Riot Games. A Riot staff member did respond to the issue on Reddit and according to an article on AFK Gaming there is even a workaround to the problem, where one simple needs to disable their anti-virus software.

To understand why such issues occur in games, this correspondent reached out to Dayanidhi MG, the CEO of nCORE Games, who said: “In games though the experienced teams cover all test cases during feature or content updates, sometimes some glitches show up when it is released to the public.”

One being asked to explain why these glitches can creep into the game after it has been released to the public, he said, “This happens due to the fact that in some cases the problems are of the nature that do not occur in the development or the staging environments. They appear in the production or live environment. When the issues can’t be resolved quickly that threaten the gameplay, the developers are often forced to roll back the updates or remove certain features to facilitate uneventful playability of the game.”

This statement sheds light on the fact that many of the glitches that occur in games are ones that do not show up in testing, this can be due to a variety of factors including just the sheer difference in number of people playing between testing and once the game goes live.

Another a big factor that affects the behaviour of a game once it is released to the public is the device it is being played on. Otherwise seemingly small factors such as the software setting of the device significantly affect the performance of the device while playing the game. This fact is so well established as of today that benchmarks used to check the performance of a new device are not used as a final conclusion of how it would behave when used for gaming.

When considering the large community of dedicated PC gamers, many of whom use a custom assembled desktop computer with hardware made by a variety of different manufacturers the behavior of the final system is even harder to predict.

A great example of this is the situation faced by this correspondent with Cyberpunk 2077: at the time one had a machine that was well over four years old and running a standard variant of NVIDEA’s GeForce GTX 1070 graphic card and a 6th generation Intel processor. Other than the fact that one was unable to take advantage of the real time ray-tracing feature of the game this correspondent was able to enjoy the rest of the game at high to ultra settings across the board at well over 60 fps (frames per second). At the same time many friends of this correspondent, who were using a system with newer, better hardware, struggled to get similar results out of a laptop.

To make matters more interesting, the recommendations by CD Projekt Red, the developer for Cyberpunk, states that my laptop should be equipped with NVIDEA’s GeForce RTX 2060 or better graphic card to play on similar settings.

The fact is that some errors and glitches are impossible to replicate during testing and it is impossible for any game developer to predict the choice of settings and hardware used by every single player. Add to this the fact that sometimes hardware can perform better or worse than suggested during testing. This makes it very unlikely that a game developer will be able to ensure that a game at launch or post an update will behave perfectly for every single player.

The one thing we can take solace in, is the fact that unlike games of yesteryear we are no longer forced to live with these glitches. In the first generation of Pokemon games (released in 1996) some of the game interactions were glitched.

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