By now, you’re probably aware of Bungie’s much publicised decision to lay down the law on “Rage Quitters” for its upcoming FPS behemoth, Halo Reach. Speaking to Xbox 360 Achievements, Bungie community rep Brian Jarrard outlined plans to detect and punish those who quit out of games early. Reportedly, these “soft bans” could prevent repeated offenders from joining matchmaking servers for up to 30 minutes and could be smart enough to differentiate between Rage Quitters and those with genuine connection problems. We’re not currently sure where yanking the Ethernet cable out of your 360 sits between those two areas, but trust that Bungie are.
Predictably, this news has arrived to a mixed reaction amongst the community. Halo is an incredibly popular franchise and can count a large number of Rage Quitters (and other annoying sorts) amongst its legions of players. However, to suggest that Bungie’s bold and rather admirable decision to effect change is restricted only to Halo Reach could be shortsighted. Is this a sign of things to come for the online gaming landscape?
There is of course more than one side to this particular story. Personally speaking, I’ve long since wished for EA Sports to introduce a system similar to Bungie’s into its FIFA franchise. FIFA itself is great fun to play online, with a stable environment and the ability to take the competition beyond the confines of your living room being one of my personal highlights of the relatively new uptake of online gaming. Occasionally however, the experience can be soiled in infuriating fashion, often for no reason other than simply being better than your opponent. In fact, I think I’m being too coy on how annoying this actually is. I think it’s fair to say that Rage Quitters have all but destroyed any enthusiasm I have for playing FIFA online.
It’s a story I’m sure many FIFA players – or sports gamers in general – will be able to recall. You start the game, take a commanding lead early on and the other player quits. You’ve wasted your time and achieved nothing. I’m not even that good at the game, being of a pretty modest standard and usually picking lower ranked teams that aren’t just Barcelona or Manchester United, and yet the amount of times I’ve seen the opposition quit out of a game just for falling behind has pretty much killed the experience for me. In line with EA’s equally annoying Project Ten Dollar, new copies of FIFA 11 will require code activation to unlock online play. This year, I might just not bother.
Have Bungie stumbled upon a potential solution to problems such as this?
“Possibly” is my personal and irritatingly vague answer to this question. In theory at least, stopping Rage Quitters from spoiling the experience for everybody else should be a no brainer to be welcomed with open arms by everybody other than the quitters themselves. Unfortunately however, things are never that simple. Even between genres, the effectiveness of handing out soft bans in an FPS that supports upto 30 players is a totally different kettle of fish to a sports game that supports two in direct, one-on-one competition.
Community-wide, valid concerns have been raised. Will genuine connection drop offs be recognised? How about people who simply hit the dashboard button to exit the entire game, as opposed to just navigating their way out of a particular round? What about those who intentionally quit for reasons no more complicated than they are no longer enjoying the battle? Simply due to the nature of the experience, I think there are more wide ranging reasons why an individual would opt out of any shooter battle than, say, a match in a sports game. As an FPS gamer, I will happily quit out of matches if I find myself restricted to a map or game type that I don’t enjoy. How long will it take for Bungie to restrict how often I can play Reach online for choosing to opt out of such occasions?
On the other side of the coin, perhaps FPS games provide the best environment for schemes such as this to thrive. In battles where 30+ people are required to co-operate and or use skill to win, it only takes a handful of users to ruin the experience for everyone else. Any attempt to stop the minority from ruining the experience for the majority should surely be welcomed?
At the end of the day, it could only be a short wait until we find out. Launching on 14 September 2010, Halo Reach is almost guaranteed to shift yet more staggering numbers of units, perhaps providing the ultimate testing ground for an initiative such as this. Tears and tantrums are almost a given, but time will be the only real decider as to how viable Bungie’s idea’s really are.
Until then, all we can do is speculate. Is this a move you agree with? Is it likely to affect you? Are you a victim of Rage Quitters or are the games you play online immune to such petulance? As always, fire away in the comments below.
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