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Opinion: The Trial of the Day One patch



Day one patches have been the subject of much debate on our news site recently. Are they good? Are they bad? I've seen many questions which deserve an answer, such as why are third party publishers releasing what often feels like half finished games and how come first party publishers, particularly Nintendo, don't seem to have the same error ridden issues?

The biggest question all of this comes down to is, do you feel happy paying out for a game which is in need of a day one fix? I've seen both sides of this argument and intend to cover this as best as I can. Unfortunately quite a few publishers have declined to involve themselves in this feature, so I'll need to play the role of both the defence and the prosecution. So lets start off with the developers point of view.

The Defence

One of the main arguments for the use of day one patches is that the we now live in a connected world. In fact a quick search on google shows statistics suggesting that around 80 percent of people with a console are connected to the Internet. This of course means that most people who buy a game day one will be able to download any day one fix. In this respect, even when a game ships, this means that in developer's eyes a game is no longer a finished product, instead they can continue to tweak it and solve any issues all the way up until its release date and beyond. Of course patches appearing long after release have been a common occurrence for many years now and often improve the game, although that's not really the issue we are covering here.

Let's take the recent release of Medal of Honor: Warfighter as an example of what we are asking about. Many were surprised to see such a huge day one patch for this game, in fact looking at the fixes the list is as long as your arm. There are all manner of problems that you would expect to be spotted by the publishers extensive Q&A process and fixed up before the disc was even on the pressing machine, so why didn't this happen? Well apparently from what I'm told, developers are now allowed to ship a game even if it does have issues, as long as these are guaranteed to be fixed in the day one patch, controversial? Certainly. True? Well just think back to nearly every big non-Wii release over the last few years. How many can you name that haven't had some sort of patch on day one or at least a few weeks after in order to solve problems?

So why would a development team, which no doubt take a lot of pride in its work want to ship a disc with so many problems? Well there's only one answer for this question.... publishers. As you can imagine, due to financial reasons, such as money spent on advertising, shareholders and all other manner of non-gaming issues, publishers are under a lot of pressure to get games shipped. This obviously then sees them put pressure on the development teams to meet the launch date. Sometimes there is an exception to this rule of course, for instance THQ have delayed many games for quality reasons, allowing the developers more time, while Ubisoft have also been known to do this; the upcoming Wii U title Rayman Legends being a prime example.

Unfortunately publishers delaying a game is the exception rather than the rule, so it seems that the case for the defence is: This is the world we live in and if you don't like it then you better find a good broadband provider and connect to the Internet.

The Prosecution

Ok, so you've bought a game, you take it home and it's more error ridden than you could possibly have expected. You hear that there's a day one patch, but since you are in the minority which can't connect to the Internet, you're stuck with an inferior product, are you happy about this? Of course not. You wouldn't pay for a leaking bottle of coke, would you?

Another annoyance about these patches is the fact that they exist in the first place. For one it's frustrating when you put your disc in and expect to play, only to be greeted with a patch notification. It's also easy to feel aggrieved that a game should have so many errors. Assassin's Creed III had 44 fixes in its day one patch, how disheartening must it be to know that before you even put a disc in the machine?

As a gamer day one patches do frustrate me. I wouldn't call myself a massive Nintendo fan but from where I'm standing, it seems that it's about the only publisher to get it right. When was the last time you spotted a load of bugs in a Nintendo title? Has Nintendo even had the need to patch one of its games (well perhaps a few, but certainly not for anything game breaking). I suppose this is the luxury a first party publisher has, although you have to question if this will still be the case when the newly connected Wii U roles into town.

The Verdict

It does seem that day one patches are here to stay. Is this fair for those who cannot connect to the Internet and indeed even those who can, I'd have to say no. It's easy to see both sides of the argument really, but given that I'm Scottish I have the luxury of calling this one 'Not Proven', although the developers and publishers must take a long hard look at day one patches in general, because if things continue down this road then next time the jury might not be so forgiving.    

What do you think? Can you understand and accept the reason for day one patches on consoles or are you totally against them? Let us know your thoughts on this controversial subject below.

Edited On 08 Nov, 2012

Comments
( 18 )
Wey1's avatar
Wey1 4 years ago
interesting read, joe. i for one am against then, simply because not everybody has the internet. ea didn't release a day one patch for fifa but i guess this sort of counts, career mode was bugged up, still is for some, freezing being a big issue. if you don't have access to online features, career mode will be your only mode to put a fair amount of time into. if you don't have the internet to get the patch which fixed issues in career mode, you're left with a game in which you can just play exhibition and some tournament games. very poor. another point in day one patches for me is, what if you have the internet but let's say you've moved house so are without it for a short period. you're left with a brand new game, you're eager to play, either sitting on the shelf or being bugged up. don't think paragraphs work on here unfortunately, so sorry for the wall of text.
Wey1's avatar
any chance of putting paragraphs forward to the team, joe? would be a nice edition, rather than my wall of text above lol.
Wey1 4 years ago
adwan's avatar
You can do paragraphs, you need to use a bit of HTML code, just put in < / b r > (without spaces) to return 1 line, so you'd need to put it in twice to return two lines.

Like so.
adwan 4 years ago
Dead's avatar
Dead 4 years ago
Really not a fan of day one patches, I can't remember a 360 game I've played recently that hasn't had one. I suppose I should be thankful I don't have a PS3 where these things can take an age to download, but it's still annoying. Patches themselves are a good thing, as there's nothing worse than a broken game, but the fact that publishers are rushing games out the door in the hope that they can fix them by release day is a little worrying though. As we've seen recently with MoH and ACIII they don't always fix everything by launch day, how much longer will we have to wait before these games are fixed to a satisfactory level? It puts me off buying a lot of games at launch, may as well leave it a few months for a lot of games, as they might be fixed by then, and they'll certainly be cheaper. I really do feel sorry for the poor souls with no internet for their console though.
adwan's avatar
adwan 4 years ago
Good article. We've discussed this long and hard on here, and I think you sum it up pretty well Joe. In my eyes, I think it's not right that the rules have been changed where by a game can be released with bugs, it makes you wonder if they do any Q&A at all on games. I also think the buck doesn't completely stop at the publishers door, Sony and Microsoft need to look at their Q&A process as well and tighten in up, and on top of that developers need to push back at their publishers and stand firm if they have a problem with releasing a broken/unfinished game.

On the flip side though, i'd sooner see a day one patch than a patch that comes along weeks after the games release and you've already found that one game breaking bug.

Like you say, we live in a connected world and that's not going to stop at all. It is unfortunate if you are in the minority who don't have their console connected to the net. They need to have a way of getting round this though. Patches need to be provided in some other form, maybe downloadable on a PC, to a memory stick, then to the console. Most people will have access to some form of connected PC, be it a friend, family member, work, library or internet cafe. Maybe they could make it downloadable to your phone, then transfered to PC or direct to the console?? There are options, but they need to implemented by the powers-that-be, dut will they see it as worth their while for the minority?
Wey1's avatar
adwan, how did you manage to add paragraphs, please? my comments display when typing them in paragraphs, but not when posted. :(
Wey1 4 years ago
adwan's avatar
replied to you're comment mate before I'd seen that you asked! ha ha
adwan 4 years ago
Wey1's avatar
okay, thanks for the response. will give it a go.

hope this worked.
Wey1 4 years ago
adwan's avatar
It worked!
adwan 4 years ago
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Loli-Nox-Tan 4 years ago
Skyward Sword had a game breaking glitch
Ash Buchanan's avatar
You know when you buy Nintendo, you buy quality. Skyward Sword to my memory was the only ever game by Nintendo to have this and even then there was a workaround, not completing levels in a certain order. I dont think Medal of Honor could of avoided those glithes in a similar way.
Ash Buchanan 4 years ago
Robichoico's avatar
If I remember correctly the Skyward Sword 'game breaking glitch' required you to play the game in the incorrect order. Doing a later dungeon earlier than supposed to.
Robichoico 4 years ago
Robichoico's avatar
Robichoico 4 years ago
I'm on the fence. It's great that we can get a patch but in some cases (Assassin's Creed 3 and especially Skyrim) the games are still broken after said patch. Some are minor and some really question how publishers get away with it. (Skyrim. Although they seem to have countered this by dropping all support for that game on the PS3) and seems like they're clearly not tested enough before release. Even worse is the minset that 'It's a Bethesda game. You have to expect bugs.' HOW is that justification for a game that is horribly broken? To say 'it's ok, it's Bethesda, their games are allowed to have glitches because they're known for it.' and very rarely were these issues brought up upon in reviews. Also feel sorry for those who don't have the internet for their consoles. A Day 1 patch means that their game is forever broken unless they can hook it up to a friend's I've seen people walk into GAME, say their game doesn't work and GAME to turn around and say 'oh there'll be a patch in the next few weeks so you can't return it.' Um no. The game is broken, just because there may or may not be a patch that could possibly fix the game does not change the fact that this customer has bought a game and it has not worked properly out of the box.
CookieMcCrumble's avatar
CookieMcCrumble 4 years ago
Tough one but overall, as someone that been gaming for many many years (call it 25 years) I've seen the industry change on so many levels and in so many different ways that I hardly notice thing like this any more. Publishers do put an awful lot of pressure on developers to get a disk out there, for all sorts of reasons such as review copies being sent out, financial timing, competition with other games etc. Imagine if MOH was delayed and released during the new COD season, for example. I don't think it would see many sales. While I understand that side of things and considering how easy it is to get the Internet connected these days I can forgive the patches and I appreciate the honesty the devs are giving us regarding their position. What I don't like is when the developers keep quiet about certain issues, deny their existence, and treat gamers like infants. I'd obviously much prefer a fully working game on day one, the disk version being fully working without question, that way the 20% without the Internet can get peace of mind, but by being secretive about things it just brings a feeling of mistrust between the developers and the gamers. Day one patches are fine by me as long as I know why they're there. But seriously, the one thing that really winds me up is day one paid for DLC. How they can justify that is beyond my comprehension.
adwan's avatar
Even worse is the DLC you can buy before the game is even out. Now that is sickening.
adwan 4 years ago
Bruticus's avatar
Bruticus 4 years ago
In short, I'd rather have a day one patch than them taking a while to bring it out. I think in this day and age you can't release a perfect game at launch as there is so much that can go wrong. You will get patches sometimes months after a game launch, so it's proof that they're always finding faults.
ASC's avatar
ASC 4 years ago
Day one patches don't bother me. If they stopped these publishers still wouldn't push back dates and we'd get less content, and inferior games.

Now, gamebreaking issues which don't get patched for days (or longer) are a problem

Also I don't mind day one DLC if its a order bonus which can also be bought if you missed it.
Robichoico's avatar
each to their own. Day 1 DLC is a different story. What would I rather see in a special edition? A map? An Artbook? A CD for Music? Figures? Cool items? Nah, I'd rather have some extra guns or a 20 minute extra mission that was removed from the game anyways.
Robichoico 4 years ago

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