Console Patching

(today’s post: 245 words)

I spotted the announcement of an upcoming patch for Fable 2 on the Xbox 360 and it got me thinking…

One of the perks of console gaming used to be that games were “finished”. Once the internet became prevalent, games on the PC were often shipped with bugs that were later fixed while console games had to work; there was no way to patch them. It forced console game-developers to have quality standards.

Starting with the original Xbox that shifted. The internet came to consoles.

At first, there was resistance. In fact, I remember working for a particular video game company and us sneaking bug fixes out to consumers, hiding a patch behind bonus content (like slipping dog pills in a piece of bread). I don’t know why it couldn’t just be said, “Hey, we know this is broken. Don’t do [this] to avoid the bug or download this fix.”

Maybe it was because everyone realized it’s a slippery slope.

Fable 2, in PC-like fashion, had a patch available day one (the day the game arrived in stores). There’s a second patch set to arrive in mid-December.

To be fair, the first Fable 2 patch enabled multiplayer. And I like bonus-content patches (even if there are bug fixes hidden in there). I also don’t mind rare issues getting addressed – like the bug on the aforementioned project I was on. But the idea of patches becoming common place is… well, it allows developers to be sloppy.

Where’s the quality assurance?

0 thoughts on “Console Patching

  1. The first thing to get chopped because of budget/time is customer service. QA is a close second (maybe even first in some cases). The current shop I work in (state government) has been in existence for ~8yrs, but only started staffing dedicated QA resources in the last 6 months.

  2. Yeah. And it makes no sense! QA is a huge money-saving tool. Customer service – that’s your window to the consumer. But short-sighted types only look at the costs of the employees and don’t factor in the benefits of those employees.

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