High Programmer > Alan De Smet > Rants > A Tale of a Bad Web Site

A Tale of a Bad Web Site

There are a lot of links here. Some are to Google, which makes them likely to change on a day to day basis. Others are to a web site that clearly doesn't care about maintaining links. Thus, it's entirely possible that they'll all be useless relatively quickly.

So I caught a passing reference to the upcoming video game Full Throttle 2 being canceled. Being a fan of the original, I wanted to check the report out. I'd been looking forward to the game and have enough respect for their adventure games that I would have purchased it sight unseen. Off to Google for news.

A quick search for "full throttle 2" returns the first link to a Press Release at LucasArts. Perfect! So a quick click and...

Welcome to the front page.

Now, I didn't want the front page, I wanted the press release. Dammit. Links are (or at least should be) forever. Expiring links is a sign of lack of professionalism. You can move the pages, but at least forward me to the new location. It's easy, a professional webmaster should darn well know how. I manage to do it, and I'm just some dork maintaining an ego site.

Well, I'll just use the site's search feature to find it...

Oh, no search feature. Apparently LucasArts doesn't actually want visitors to find things. What a novel idea.

Well, I know it's a press release, so into the press section.

Well, it's not here on the first page, but that's just the most recent stuff. Let's go back...

To another page with just a handful of items. The entire news archive is spread over page after page. 17 pages at the moment. How amazingly unprofessional. Really, it's not that hard to list the entire archives on one page. They're not that big. I could have waited.

Since clearly LucasArts doesn't want to help me, back to Google to search their site. I fail to find a better link. I do find links to other press releases. The next press release and the previous press release are still online. That one press release has been purged. Revisionist history, it never happened. Maybe the game is back on?

The same search turns up a bunch of other links for FT2. I find the press release announcing it. A promotional trailer. A list of features. Everything suggests the game is still on. Except if I hit the "News" link for the game, or try to go to the top level page for the game, I'm redirected to the missing press release, then redirected back to the home page. It's as though someone tried to erase all hints that Full Throttle 2 ever existed, but did a sloppy job. Apparently they forgot that Google remembers, especially if you leave a bunch of the pages online. Bloody incompetent.

So, I think Full Throttle 2 is canceled. So canceled that they want to deny that it ever existed. And while I'm just a tad unsure about FT2's fate, I know that LucasArts has no idea how to treat customers.

All of this is depressingly common, especially on video game web sites. They invested in glitz and sparkle, but fail at basic usability. Sure, it's great that your site looks good, but ultimately people visit for information. I want to learn about a game. I want to find a patch for a game I purchased. I'm regularly kicked off of web sites because they erroneously fail to detect my Flash plugin. Come to think of it, why do I need a Flash plugin at all to download a patch for a game?

Getting basic information and patches is all too often bedeviling. It's time for fewer graphic artists and more usability experts. An easier to use web site will leave me a happier customer and more likely to buy your games in the future. If I face crap I'm likely to be suspicious that your games are built with the same lack of care. Please, help make the web suck less.

Update, 2005-05-05: It's now been more than a year since I wrote this. Inexplicably, all of the links still work. You can still see the announcement and the feature list. And Google still links to the press release that LucasArts tried to erase from history. Perhaps as a cost cutting measure in addition to apparently firing anyone who knows how to design a fun game they also sacked the web staff? It's hard to remember that at one point this was the game company I respected most.

Update, 2007-02-20: Sometime in the last few months Lucasarts finally took down the old Full Throttle content. It appears to have been part of a reorganization. Like most clueless monkeys they simply reorganized their site breaking thousands of inbound links. Deeply unsurprising. Also, I fixed a typo my rant.

Contact webmaster - Copyright © 2004 Alan De Smet (2004-01-08)