The reality is that most games that ship have hundreds, and sometimes thousand of known bugs. Most known bugs that are shipped with are considered minor or cosmetic, which means they can be noticed but usually aren't much of an annoyance and sometimes are small enough that the average player won't even notice (things like Z-fighting of small objects off in the distance near the back of the camera's frustum, are common examples).
Fixing almost all known bugs could literally take a year or more. Some bugs are incredibly tough to fix, and involve rewriting large systems that are part of the architecture of the game. And then, when you make a large architectural change to the code you end up causing 80 new bugs in the process, and as you go to fix those you find out that those bugs require the rewrite of another large system to fix. The cycle continues and you're a year into it and you've fixed 800 bugs, and caused 300 bugs. Generally you'll fix more bugs than you will cause, and over time you'll have fewer bugs and less severe bugs.
There's comes the point in all games where you've tested it, players have tested it, and most people agree that on all known configurations of any supported platforms that you can play through the game as intended without bugs negatively impacting the experience enough that it would be worth it to delay it any longer. "worth it" applies to both the publisher and the players. If only 0.2% of your customers are going to notice bug #10472, and when they do notice it they will not really be affected much by it, is that worth delaying the project a week at the cost of $300k?
This leaves the unknown bugs, the ones that require very specific hardware configurations, or rare/old/or brand new drivers. Those kinds of bugs can sometimes not even show up until the final product has reached a large customer base. Now, at that point, if you're those customers would you prefer a patch, or not?
I've literally worked on a project that would crash only if the person was running Windows XP, 64-bit, and had a USB foam rocket launcher attached to their computer at the time the program was starting up. Is that a configuration you expect the developer to test before they ship?
I will concede there are probably occasions when there are more severe bugs that publishers know about and ship a game anyway. I've never worked for a publisher like that, and hope I never have to.
Another huge factor most gamers don't consider is that gold master discs, and advertisement slots must be purchased/completed months in advance. Once a gold master disc is pressed, any bugs found after that will have to be part of a day one patch. This is why most games end up with day 1 patches, because in the 3-4 months after the gold master disc was made they've fixed 100 bugs, and they want the player to not have to deal with those 100 bugs once they get the product in their hands. This is also another reason why you cannot just continue to delay a game forever, at some point you have to be able to reserve advertising slots and give a shipping date for the game, otherwise you end up being another Duke Nukem Forever.
The article in the OP comes off as the ramblings of a baby who thinks he is entitled to the "perfect game/movie" sans advertising and the like -- who has given NO thought to the devs' side of things.
Edited by JCPUser - 4/18/11 at 1:04am