It’s fair to say that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League’s launch isn’t going great so far. Following a brutal run of previews, and a splendidly petulant attempt to turn the narrative, the game’s few days of paid early access have been dirty with downtime. In an apparent attempt at crisis management, a handful of early access players say they’ve been offered $20 of in-game currency. In LutherCoins. No, really.
People who pre-ordered Suicide Squad’s $100 Deluxe Edition should check their in-game mailboxes, where they’ll see a message titled, “Thanks for your support.” Within it says,
Thank you for being one of our first console players during early access of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. We recognize that you’ve been patient with us during our initial launch server updates and we’d like to show our appreciation for your patience with a special gift of 2000 LutherCoins. Thank you again! -Rocksteady
What a couple of months Rocksteady has had. It’s unusual for AAA games to receive such overwhelmingly negative previews. Publishers do an awful lot of work behind-the-scenes to manage such situations, perhaps arranging “exclusive” coverage for a particular chosen outlet who is then uncritical, or doing enough testing and private mock reviews to know not to let the press see something before its release. Typically, this kind of wave of negative coverage would be expected and prepared for by PR. Hence the bizarre move to tell alpha testers—likely unpaid enthusiasts—that their NDAs don’t count any more, and they were welcome to say how much they’d loved it.
It was perhaps not quite subtle enough to shift the narrative, which had already been skewed by widespread disappointment that the game would be aping Destiny’s live-service model of gear scores and battle passes. However, developers Rocksteady and publishers Warner at least knew pre-order early access was coming up, and that’s a near-guarantee of positive buzz.
Why? Because people who pre-order pricey versions of games are already convinced they’re going to like it, and may be counted on to put out a wave of enthusiasm about a game moments before its release. So yeah, that didn’t go well either.
Since letting players into the live-service game from the Batman: Arkham developers, server problems have been so severe that the game has been taken down for hours at a time. And despite this ostensibly being a single-player game (although playable in co-op), it’s so entangled in its live-service trappings that it can only be played online, with the servers up. (Warner Bros. and Rocksteady have promised an offline version is coming, although details are very vague at this point.)
Who knows if giving the Deluxe Edition customers $20-worth of pretend-o-money will be a hit for Warner, given how many may never have spent that money in game had they not been given it, but it’s not nothing.
So that’s how their week’s going. How about you?