My friends, these are truly troubling times in the video game community. Gamers are sick and tired of receiving games that are unfinished, or failing to deliver on expectations, especially after being in development for extended periods of time.
There is only one man who can save us. And no, it’s not Batman, Donald Trump, or Gabe Newell (praise be unto him).
The name of our savior? Gordon Ramsay.
Yes, I’m completely serious. Well, okay — maybe not completely serious, but I do seriously think Gordon Ramsay has some valuable knowledge that can be shared with the game development community. Allow me to explain:
A few years ago, I marathoned the entirety of Gordon Ramsay’s show Kitchen Nightmares on Netflix. If you’re not familiar with it: Kitchen Nightmares follows chef Gordon Ramsay as he visits failing restaurants and uses his various cooking and yelling skills to try and make the restaurant successful again. He seemed like a madman at times, berating cooks and insulting restaurant owners, but there was a method to his madness. He was very good at breaking people’s bad habits, and convincing them to use his methods instead — which did tend to result in better performance for the restaurant… most of the time.
One of Ramsay’s teachings has always stuck with me: holding a late food order from going to the table until it is perfect.
It’s a pretty common scenario at a restaurant — it’s busy and there is a rush of orders. The cooks are keeping pace pretty well, but an order or two slips behind and they will be late finishing them for those customers. In most of the cases on the show, cooks and waiters opted to deliver the order before it was completely finished. After all, the customer had already waited longer than expected for their order — making them wait even longer would be unacceptable, right?
“Don’t you dare bring that sh*tty quiche out looking like that Susan or I swear…”
Well, only half-right. While the customer would indeed become irritated after waiting longer than expected, receiving an unfinished or imperfect meal just made things worse. Which makes sense when you think about it — imagine if you had to wait 1 hour for a meal that was only supposed to take 30 minutes to make, and when you finally got it it was hastily prepared and there were parts missing? Not a good experience.
Sound familiar? It should. This is the same phenomenon that seems to be running rampant across the videogames industry — developers and publishers announce delays for their games, then the final version is incomplete, broken, or failing to live up to expectations in some other way.
No Man’s Sky is a perfect example of how this can happen, and the damage it can do to both the creators and community. The game promised so much — procedurally-generated worlds, dynamic roleplaying options, unique organisms, and more — and some of it was delivered, but overall it left players feeling disappointed and like the game they got was much lower quality than the one they ordered.
Gordon Ramsay’s solution? Do not send out the order until it is perfect. Period. It doesn’t matter how much longer it takes, do not deliver that order until it is as close to perfection as it can be.
Even though the customer may have to wait a frustratingly long time to receive their order, when they finally do receive it, it will be one of the most delicious things they’ve ever eaten. When Gordon did this, customers often said things along the lines of “I’m not happy with how long I had to wait, but wow, this was worth it.” They had some complaints, but overall they were a satisfied customer. Some customers would get fed up with waiting and leave, of course, but you can’t expect to please everybody, and the ones you do please will share their praise of your food’s quality.
I realize things aren’t that simple when it comes to making and releasing a videogame, but I think this principle can and should be applied to the gaming industry. If more game creators focused on quality in the face of delays, rather than getting the product out as soon as possible, I think we’d see much happier gamers, more love for developers, and less toxicity and distrust in gaming communities. Taking the time to make a game as perfect as it can be can cost fans and reputation, but when the final product is delivered, the lateness will often be overshadowed by quality.
Take Bioshock: Infinite as an example: this game was delayed multiple times, to the point where many fans gave up on it ever being released. However, Irrational Games insisted on polishing it until it was damn near perfect. The result was a great game that received multiple awards and overwhelming praise — the fact that it was incredibly delayed is almost never brought up.
So, clearly, what the gaming industry needs now, more than ever, is a little help from Gordon Ramsay.
What do you think, can Gordon Ramsay save video games? Are there other chefs more qualified for the job? Share your thoughts with us in the comments and on Twitter!