I have recently been playing some older console games and it dawned on me that the game must have been perfect, or “finished” when it was released. Think back to the likes of Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto III, Animal Crossing, Resident Evil and pretty much every single console game before this generation. Did we have to download patches or updates to clear up glitches and bugs in the code? Did we have extra content downloadable to “enhance” our experience of that game? The short answer: “No.”
In these days of patches, updates and DLC we live in a world where games developers rush to put their products on shelves unfinished. A prime example would be games that release, and what is called a “Day 1” patch is required in order to fix certain bugs in the game. Excuse me? Have I just paid £40 for an unfinished game?
Medal of Honor: Warfighter (shown above) is the best example of what I’ve mentioned. People flocked to purchase the game and were faced with a 1.4GB “Day 1” patch download. This download fixed 110 issues in the game which were picked up by players who had access to the BETA version. BETA version? So that’s what people paid for, a BETA version of a game? Surely if these issues were picked up during the BETA, or “Test”, phase of the game then the issues should have been fixed before release.
Then there’s the extra content which becomes available to “expand” the game to new heights and levels. I used to play a game for hours, finish it, then try it again on a different difficulty or replay using unlocked items. Now we can purchase and download different levels with new story elements, weapons, armor and even items of clothing for your favorite characters. Clothing? You can buy clothing to use in the game. I miss the good old “unlock a key to a wardrobe” which allows you to change clothes if you so fancied.
All of this soon adds up and you end up paying in excess of £60 just to play the same game with a few different visuals. That does not, mind you, mean that I’m completely against DLC (Downloadable Content). There are times where you will be getting to the end of a game’s life. You’ve played it for 200+ hours and have unlocked/earned all that you can in the game. Then, a new addition to the game becomes available. These are brand new expansions on the story which allows you to experience more of the game you’ve come to hold in such high regard.
So does this mean we have become completely set on getting a game we forget that we are purchasing an unfinished game? Does this age of super-high speed internet mean that developers can distribute their unfinished game because they can just “fix” what’s broken? Where will we stand in 10 years when games/hardware evolves to the point that we may not even have physical media to put in our machines? Only time will tell, but I can say I probably already miss the good old days of “put the disk in and play”.
Let us know what you thought of this piece in the comments below and check out the opposite side of this argument from a different writer over here. What is your take on the situation?