Play-Asia.com - Your One-Stop-Shop for Asian Entertainment
 

The Xbox360 patch system

Ever wondered why your games feel like they’re incomplete? Or do you sometimes get the feeling it’s not you who’s lacking skills, but your system is? Well, maybe you’re right and there is something wrong with your $60 piece of software. Read on for some explanations.

Pleister

How many of you Xbox360 owners out there have bought Call of Duty 2? I know the approximate answer: over 50%.That means the game sold about a million times on the Xbox360 alone. It’s the best selling launchgame so far, and the second most played on Xbox Live. The game is still rising in the charts and Infinity Ward should be proud of themselves, or shouldn’t they? Everybody who tried to play Call of Duty 2 online encountered a problem or two, if it’s not the connecting issue, you have terrible lag. You ask yourself how did this happen, don’t they know what testing a game is? Or how to create a proper online system without glitches? If this game was released on a previous generation console, you would be screwed. But not with a Xbox360 that allows you to download updates and patches. This way developers can add extra content or fix bugs in their games. But why would any developer want to fix some minor errors like disconnecting from a lobby or auto-connecting to someone with a smoke-signal-dialup-connection. If I was really pessimistic, I’d say they don’t have any reason at all, because we paid for the game and why should they bother. Or is it because Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter is hitting the shelves in a couple of weeks? That might make sense, it’s definitely a highly anticipated game, and if they release a patch a couple of days prior to GRAW’s release that would magically solve all the problems people have encountered online, they would surely be praised by many. Or are these just negative thoughts and is Infinity Ward really working hard on a patch to bring us our beloved custom game matches and more? Maybe the patch from February 1st was the best they could do after Infinity Ward’s holiday, or maybe not.

Above’s story is an example of what’s happening with an online service like Xbox Live. In the case of Call of Duty 2, it’s a popular game. But what if we take Full Auto for example, that game doesn’t do very well in the charts and suffers from bad frame rates and choppy performance. It would probably take a huge amount of time to even improve this a little. That’s an example of a premature released game, it works, but it doesn’t satisfy. It’s obvious that we’re going to see this more and more in the future as it’s already happening with PC games. Gamers without a Xbox 360 HDD might even have a bigger problem as they’re unable to download patches. In the case of Dead or Alive 4, a bug causes you to lose savegames sometimes. How annoying is that, to lose all your unlocked characters. A much heard phrase ‘plug it in, and it works’ is used among console owners to illustrate the ease of console gaming. But it’s not sure if that line can be used in the future if problems like this keep popping up.

As I said before, PC gamers have experience with buggy games, so I’ll take a couple of examples to properly underline the problem we’re facing. March 22nd 2002, Heroes of Might and Magic 4 was released by former company 3DO. Beside the fact they completely removed all the good gameplay from the previous installments, the game was buggy. Not only buggy, but it was missing features. In the box there was a small note saying something like ‘multiplayer disabled, will be added later with a patch’. That patch came a few months later, it even fixed the memory leak in the game which forced you to restart the game every 5 minutes. A few weeks ago Ubisoft – the company who took over the HOMM franchise – released a beta of Heroes of Might and Magic 5, buggy as hell. An online petition was set up to delay the release of the game which was due to release in March, lots of gamers signed it. No official response was made regarding the petition, but the release got delayed. So that’s a different company with a different set of rules. Another very popular game developed by Electronic Arts, Command & Conquer: Generals. The single player part of the game was quite well done, but the multiplayer part however, was far from perfect. In the first week after the game was out, they released 3 patches. All of them were hotfixes, which means that they fixed very critical issues. All those people who were playing the single player campaign had to start over thrice, because the savegames weren’t compatible. The game also got an official add-on, which had some bugs in it as well, nothing special about that. But it had the same bugs in it, they fixed in a previous version of the game, the official statement was they just ‘forgot’ to fix them.

My conclusion is all of the games on the Xbox360 are very playable, but every big release need fixing. Maybe it’s just a big conspiracy thing, that Microsoft forces everybody to have a harddisk in their system. But what about all the people that don’t even have their console hooked up to the internet? They are stuck with their buggy games. This is obviously a bad thing, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly by gamers. A statement has to be made, and we all need to keep harassing those developers with our emails, spam the forums, publish articles and so on. Because if this is the future of console gaming, it’s not a bright one. The power is in your hands.

del.icio.us:The Xbox360 patch system newsvine:The Xbox360 patch system furl:The Xbox360 patch system reddit:The Xbox360 patch system fark:The Xbox360 patch system Y!:The Xbox360 patch system gamegrep:The Xbox360 patch system

17 comments on 'The Xbox360 patch system'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or Trackback to 'The Xbox360 patch system'.

Nice article Rival! :)

I think developers are getting more lame everyday, they don’t test well and this too easy cause they will always be able to update the gamer later.

Comment by Bill on 2006-02-16 18:36:51 | Reply

I am also tired of paying $50-60 to be a beta tester.

Comment by Peewee on 2006-02-16 19:43:56 | Reply

Nice article. One little remark though.

Quote:
“If this game was released on a previous generation console, you would be screwed. But not with a Xbox360 that allows you to download updates and patches.”

The last generation consoles didn’t have update functionality, except for one: The Xbox :)

Comment by Peewee on 2006-02-16 19:49:04 | Reply

And another remark:

Quote:
“But what about all the people that don’t even have their console hooked up to the internet? They are stuck with their buggy games. ”

Patches for games will be made available for download on a normal computer. If you burn it on a DVD/CD, you can update your console. At least, if i’m correct, that was the plan.

On the other hand: Why should you not connect your 360, since it’s free. If you don’t like cables, and lack the money to by a wireless set, plugging in a cable for 1 1/2 minute will also solve your problem.

@Peewee: That was the initial plan, but i haven’t heard anything about that in a couple of weeks, and there been a few updates. And what about people who don’t have an internet connection? Maybe not much, but still…

You know, the sad thing is as a massive PC gamer, I gave up pc gaming because of poorly coded games. With the advent of HDR hitting pc games I just saw them getting buggier and buggier as well as sloppily coded. So here I am on the 360…irony hurts sometimes.

Comment by Steve Davison on 2006-02-17 13:08:08 | Reply

I think using customers as beta testers is a lousy plan, but you are right especially with regards COD2 on the 360. As for IW releasing a patch a couple of days before GRAW is released that to my mind would be an even bigger issue. To me if there is a patch released just days before GRAW then I would see that as an intentional thing designed to steal GRAW’s thunder. What that says to me is that IW were aware of the problem but didn’t care enough about customers that bought the game to release the patch ASAP, instead they decided that the customers who forked out $60 could just put up with garbage online play until COD2 has some competition. I refuse to believe that if the patch does come out just before GRAW that the reason would be that is when the coders finished the patch!

Comment by ReVolt on 2006-02-17 13:09:00 | Reply

Quote: “My conclusion is all of the games on the Xbox360 are very playable, but every big release need fixing.”

PGR3 has no obvious bugs and does not require a patch, so why should the other games!?

Darren - I agree, I did the same move.

@ Revolt: How about the PGR3 lockups then?

Comment by ReVolt on 2006-02-17 15:44:13 | Reply

Cant say I have had ANY, ever, and I have played it to death….. More likely to be a 360 hardware problem IMHO.

@Revolt: You’re lucky, other people did have problems, but they fixed it.

[…] A great article on XBOXIC about the patch system for the Xbox 360 and they mostly agree with my feelings on the whole thing. Everybody who tried to play Call of Duty 2 online encountered a problem or two, if it’s not the connecting issue, you have terrible lag. You ask yourself how did this happen, don’t they know what testing a game is? Or how to create a proper online system without glitches? If this game was released on a previous generation console, you would be screwed. […]

Comment by Anthony on 2006-02-17 16:53:11 | Reply

Lets put it this way… If MS was to say you can be a beta tester, but you still have to pay full price for the system since the HW is a final build, would you have still purchased an 360? I would have. It was the same for the original xbox live beta testing only you recieved 3 free months of xbox live.

Comment by ReVolt on 2006-02-17 16:59:03 | Reply

On the whole I think LIVE is awesome. Its the games that are not optimised/bug free for online play. The require far too much bandwidth.

CoD2 was blatently rushed to cash in on the 360 release hype since there weren’t that many games around. Look at PGR/Kameo and Condemned - all 3 were the best of the launch titles and had no bugs at all - so good development and coding work there.

PGR3 had one known bug to me, but it seems it was a dashboard related lockup bug rather then a pgr3 one. Kameo was bug free, Condemned had one very minor bug which didn’t stop gameplay.

CoD2 was pathetic imo. I never even got to play online because my disc cracked before I had a chance. I just hope all this patch lark doesn’t make the 360 game devs lazy, as is the case for PC games.

Comment by john on 2006-03-13 03:34:08 | Reply

found problem with GRAW in one of the missions, you lay down and as you move forward you end up flying as if your stuck to a cross.
now thats a massive problem to me as i cant get past this level.

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>