Ever since its rocky PC release, Dishonored 2 wasn't looked at very fondly among the PC community. This was, of course, due to the sub-par frame rate, graphical bugs and other performance issues. While this didn't affect everyone in the same way, it affected enough people to seriously harm Dishonored 2's reception and sales on the PC.
While steadily climbing in review percentages, Dishonored 2 sat firmly in the 60-69 percent positive, which is categorized as "Mixed" reviews on Steam. That changed during the Steam Winter Sale, where Dishonored 2 reached 70 percent, finally cementing its comeback in the PC community, and putting it at a satisfactory "Mostly Positive" designation.
This percentage stays the same even if you filter out Steam Key Activations and just focus on purchasers.
Dishonored 2 was marked down 33 percent, giving it a price of a little more than $40 USD during the Steam Winter Sale. According to Steam Spy, Arkane Studios' stealth action sequel has gained more than 60,000 new owners, with the increase starting as soon as the Steam Sale started.
While the sale itself obviously translated into more owners, the real question is whether this new designation will mean more sales over time, even after Steam Winter Sale ends.
It helps, though, that the PC performance issues are largely resolved. While some people on Reddit are still reporting issues, particularly those with Radeon Video Cards, it seems most people have the game running smoothly regardless of choice in Chipset.
A game we put at No. 2 on our Best Games of 2016, Dishonored 2 could really only be derailed by technical issues, but, Arkane Studios had a great response to this issue from which others can take notes.
The Right Way
For one, Arkane responded to the PC performance issues immediately – acknowledging their existence and indicating that they were investigating the issues.
Then, and this is very important, they followed up, creating numerous patches, each one of them tested by the community via Steam's beta functionality.
Arkane then followed through even more. After the first patch was released, they went ahead and released another, and another just for good measure. The best part is that they saved their new content updates until after their PC performance issues were largely addressed.
While it does seem they are still addressing some performance issues, Arkane Studios have shifted their focus to meaningful gameplay improvements, such as New Game Plus and Customizable Difficulty. As we'll see, this is the right time to introduce these elements, and there certainly is a wrong time.
The Wrong Way
You don't have to look very far in the past to see an example of poorly handling PC performance issues. You'll just have to go back to Mafia III. While that game had issues on consoles as well, the PC issues were much more pronounced.
With Mafia III, we were given a game that was virtually unplayable, and 2K Games, while quick to respond, did not keep the community involved in the same way Arkane did. They left message on release date, and a hotfix patch two days later that wasn't tested by Steam players.
But then, the real problem with 2K's response showed up, in the form of additional cosmetic content. What's the problem with a game studio offering free content after a rough release? The main issue is that they didn't fix the core problems before doing so. To many people, this felt like a consolation prize that neither consoled nor had the value of a "prize."
It was seen as 2K saying "look, we know out game is still broken, technically, but here's some free cosmetics that we probably should have included in the game at launch." As you might imagine, people weren't impressed.
And they still aren't. Mafia III also went on sale during Steam's Winter Sale – 35 percent off at $39 USD – but it had the opposite effect of Dishonored 2's discount. Not only is Mafia III still "mixed" with only 46 percent positive reviews, the recent reviews section (presumably those who purchased the game during the sale) is "mostly negative" with an even lower 36 percent positive reviews.
The chief complaint among recent reviews? Bugs and performance issues.
While gamers are not ones to forget when someone does them wrong, it appears do have the capacity to forgive if issues such as PC performance are handled correctly. Arkane Studios put these issues as their highest priority with Dishonored 2 and engaged the community the entire way, using them as a benchmark for patch tests. They saved all superficial content updates until after the PC performance issues were largely resolved
Now that Dishonored 2 is on the brink of major content updates, it's goes to show that performance issues at launch don't have to be a death sentence. But they can be, if you aren't careful.