How Postal 2 perfected the strategy of releasing a broken game and fixing it later while other titles face a massive backlash for doing it.
Postal 4: No Regerts was recently released with a host of performance issues. Had this been any other title, it would have resulted in a wave of backlash from the community. The difference here is that Running With Scissors has a history of releasing a Postal game broken at launch but quickly fixing it and making it right by their fans.
No, this is not to say they have embraced the “release it now, fix it later” mindset that has plagued the industry. That is because they perfected this strategy to the point that it has become part of their brand. Not in the sense like a AAA publisher releasing a broken game (again) then promising to do better next time (again). Fans expected a buggy Postal 4 at launch because they know it will be fixed in a few months.
This all comes down to how Running With Scissors perfected the strategy of releasing a broken game and then fixing it later all the way back in 2003.
It’s hard to say if Postal 2 was the first game that was broken at launch only to become great after a series of updates. But, it’s definitely the earliest example of one of the biggest comebacks. Plus this was all the way back in 2003, long before high-speed internet was common in every household and Valve’s Steam was just starting as a game launcher.
The original Postal 2 was released in April of 2003 and it was panned by most critics. The biggest critique was how the game was buggy and prone to crashes. This could have been the end of the series but it was universally praised by gamers who enjoyed the humor along with its open world and non-linear gameplay. After a series of patches, the game was re-released in December 2003 (as Postal 2: Share The Pain) and it was better received by critics.
At the time, it was a shining example of how a game recovered from a bad launch. Unfortunately, it has become too common for publishers to release a broken game and try to fix it later. Battlefield 4, Final Fantasy XIV (re-released as A Realm Reborn), and any Bethesda game are great examples of games broken at launch only to recover and become classics. Then you have games that never recover like Antham, NFL Madden (since 2020), the WWE 2K series and it looks like Battlefield 2043 is about to join them. Regardless if it gets fixed or not, it always results in a massive backlash from the fandom.
Running With Scissors may have mastered this approach and it seems they are among the very few who get away with it. This is because of two major factors, they have always kept their promise of fixing the game and they are an indie studio. Their resources are limited but they do the best they can, something the fans understand.
So while other broken at launch AAA games will always have to fight to regain the trust of gamers while working to fix their titles, Running With Scissors will never need to face such a backlash so long as they do right with their fans. Regardless, it’s best for studios and publishers to actually take QA (as a profession and an overall team) seriously. A reputation is not bulletproof and even loyal fans are going to draw a line at some point.
8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the video game community and industry of the San Francisco Bay Area.