There has been a debate going around about patching in content after a game is made, released, and sold. I’m not talking about DLC, oh no, what I mean is content that should have been in the game originally, but was cut out due to constraints of some sort and being added into the game free of charge later on. Perhaps the most prominent example of this is Final Fantasy XV, which only a few weeks ago, got it’s first patch of additional content.
Square Enix has been listening to their fans who have been upset about the story of Final Fantasy XV as it stood when it was released on November 29, 2016. It left out key elements in it’s penultimate chapter, specifically the motivations of certain characters as well as uncertainty of the whereabouts of others. To put it blatantly, too many questions were left unanswered and fans were not too happy.
A patch was released not too long ago, March 27th, that fixed chapter thirteen. It is accessible as a standalone segment in the main menu for players who have already beat the game, but it is also integrated into the game for new players who haven’t played through the chapter yet. It added a few scenes to the bare chapter, scenes, people argue, that should have already been in the game. What’s murky is whether or not these scenes were cut content originally meant to be in the game or content that was created to tide over players. What matters though, is that Square Enix took the initiative to release free cut scenes for their game.
The argument then becomes focused on how you look at this situation. Should this have been in the game before it was released? Are we buying an unfinished game? Or, does this show that the company still has interest in perfecting a game for their player base?
Let’s take a look at another game that is employing this method: Mass Effect. BioWare has released a statement saying that they will be releasing a patch to fix things in Mass Effect Andromeda, their newest game. One thing that stuck out to me was that they wanted to flesh out some of the male romance options which didn’t get too much attention spent on them. This has not been released yet, but it will probably be a free patch. In this case, the line gets even blurrier. People are quick to point out that this content should have been in the game because of BioWare’s track record.
Mass Effect 3 had one of the most controversial endings in video game history. People were angry at how the game ended, so much so that BioWare released a free patch to the game, forcing players to achieve a certain score to get a certain ending. This ending felt tacked on and many players thought it should have been in the game to begin with. This addition was not cut content, it was made specifically for Mass Effect 3 after the game was released in an attempt to pacify long time fans of the series.
BioWare is known for releasing paid DLC that is essential to the game’s story. Mass Effect’s Prothean DLC, which explores a species central to the game and Dragon Age Inquisition’s Trespasser DLC, which leads directly into what will presumably happen in the next game, are paid DLC. So, when the company says that they’re releasing a patch to fix their game, people begin to wonder if they simply tossed whatever garbage they could at us for our money.
DLC has always been a sore spot for many gamers. I myself am a fan of free patches that fix a game. I see it as a way to enhance a player’s experience based on their feedback. But, should this be a step that game developers take before a game is released to the public? This begs the question, are game developers getting lazy and releasing half made games because they can add content later? I definitely see this phenomenon growing in the future, but it’s up to us to look at the facts and determine whether or not we support this.
[Disclaimer: I do think it’s unfair to lump all game developers into a single category and have simply used the companies above as examples for readers to bounce their own ideas off of.]
What do you guys think about this debate? Let me know in the comments below.