Game Patches Should Be Available As Separate Downloads Again

Downloads   CD PROJEKT RED

CDProjekt RED is doing something pretty interesting for the release of The Witcher 3. Like most high-profile releases today it’ll have a day-one patch, but on PC that day one patch will be available as a separate download for everyone regardless of whether they have the game yet (just like The Witcher 2)*. Everyone should start doing this, on both PC and console in fact. It’s basically a regression to how patches used to be distributed, but why not do both the new and old ways?

Ever since Steam, PlayStation Network, and Xbox Live standardized the idea of distributing patches through clients (that’s why Valve originally made Steam), that’s pretty much what games do these days. Well, really all software these days updates itself. It definitely makes things smoother since you no longer have to hunt down patches on official websites or fileshack, but now updates have become locked behind clients.

The biggest case of this problem happened when Halo: The Master Chief Collection came out requiring a 20GB day-one patch. Digital customers immediately got the patched game in the preload and thereafter, but those who buy the physical version to this day must wait for a 20+GB download upon initial installation. Well, MCC should have been on two Blu-Rays anyway (or at least new print runs should be), but customers should be able to download the updates whenever they’re able, not only once they can boot up the game. Other games are getting big patches too, sometimes as big as a few gigs.

In the story about CDPR*, attention was brought to how this potentially benefits pirates who no longer have to buy access to updates, but I think it mainly benefits physical retail consumers who might plan to buy the game later, but can get the patch onto a USB drive now. Sony and Microsoft already do this with their consoles. I know Sony at the very least has always made its firmware updates available through PC. This came in handy when the PS4 first launched because people could have that day-one update ready when they got their systems. Doesn’t it make sense to do the same for the games?

Technically, Nintendo already does this. Nintendo rarely patches its games, but whenever a new patch comes out for Super Smash Bros. on the 3DS, I can download it as a separate application on the eShop or automatically get it upon booting up the game. Someone buying Smash right now can have the update ready on their 3DS.

All I’m really saying is, customers should have more options when it comes to this for the sake of making the process of updating software as convenient as possible for a variety of situations.


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