I demand endless support and content, for free of course!

One area I feel gamers are getting a little too entitled around is the length and breadth of support for released games. Before the days of the internet, once you bought a game, that was it. You had the finished product and your ‘interaction’ with the devs was over. Today even many single-player games feel more like a service than a single-purchase good, for both good and bad.

We of course have Early Access, but at least that process is an open admission to an unfinished product that will continue to be supported until at least release (unless the game completely fails and is abandoned, but that’s also a known risk of buying an EA title). We also have studios do a full release and the game is a buggy mess, one they sometimes fix and other times don’t, but its not like every SNES or Genesis game was bug-free either, right?

The other side of the spectrum however is when fans get mad that a studio has ‘abandoned’ a game long after its release (not talking online games here that continue to make money by selling stuff, be it subscriptions or via a cash shop), when the game is feature-complete and mostly bug free.

There was mild disappointment on Steam (and here from me) when Battle Brothers was considered done and the devs said they were moving on (thankfully they changed their minds and an expansion is coming soon). There is a good amount of hostility on reddit for Heroes of Might and Magic 7, which the devs ‘abandoned’ without fixing all of the bugs, despite that game getting some post-release DLC and numerous bug fix patches (to be fair the release state of HoMM7 was utter garbage, and today still has some annoyances), all for a title I’m pretty sure had disappointing sales. Those are two examples I’m recently familiar with, but I’m sure plenty, plenty of others exist.

Is it right for gamers to expect updates and fixes for eternity on a title? Of course not. Is it fair to expect a game that isn’t a bug-ridden mess? Yup. Where the exact sweet spot is between fair expectations and poor support varies from game to game, and developer to developer. It’s also influenced by success and the wallet-vote support of the gamers. If a game has DLC or other means to ‘pay more’, and gamers don’t support that, it’s hard to make the case that the devs should continue working on said title, especially if the demand for said work is to add more ‘stuff’, rather than fix the basics.

I think the model uses for Total War: Warhammer is a good one, where there is a known cadence of free patches, free content, and paid DLC, and then after a few years a new version of the game was released (with TW:W3 coming at some point as well). If you want all of the content, you will pay more than a single box price, but at the same time you are buying IMO a lot more content than a normal game includes. It’s fair, especially since the player decides just how much they want to spent after the initial box price.

With the cost of gaming rising (at least in the AAA space), we can’t expect the old ‘just buy the box’ model to work for all games, especially games where we expect a ton of content, or for the game to continue to evolve based on player feedback. But that also doesn’t mean that every game needs to be a F2P-style dumpster fire of cash shop BS. Much like with the length and breadth of support, the amount and cost of supporting a game will vary, but it had to evolve, and gamer mentality has to evolve with it.

 

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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One Response to I demand endless support and content, for free of course!

  1. The odd bit is when studios walk away from titles where keeping them up to date might actually be worth the effort. I mean, Ensemble and Microsoft walked away from Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings, arguably one of the best RTS titles in the genre. The community kept it going along with places like GameRanger that let you do multiplayer across the net. Then Hidden Path somehow got the rights to rework it and now the HD remaster is on Steam with full multiplayer support, more expansions, and 5.8 million players.

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