Game Updates: Too Many vs Not Enough?

Back when I was a kid, there were no “game updates.” Games shipped when they were ready, and that was the final version — for everyone. The development team didn’t continue working on that game. They would move onto the next project.

Today, games get so much support. It’s nice that bugs and problems can be fixed after release. We’ve also seen many games go through drastic changes since their original release. Games like Fortnite, that were released as one thing but became something completely different.

Recent Debacle

Last month, Gran Turismo 7 had a big problem with an update. The game was unplayable for over 24 hours. Not unplayable as in bad, but unplayable as in not able to log in or do anything in the game, for anyone.

Since GT7 is a fully online game (meaning you can’t play any mode unless you are connected to the internet), any time they perform server maintenance the game is shut down for everyone. With GT Sport they had the same issue, but never ran into any problem as big as this. People were furious.

It wasn’t a huge problem for me. I tried to play at one point and was told the game was offline for server maintenance issues, so I moved on and played something else. The next day I came back and tried again and it was still down. I just thought it was strange for the game to be out two days in a row for server maintenance, but the game had been down for the entire time in between.

Gran Turismo 7 is now back and everything is cool (for the most part). They even gave players 1,000,000 credits for the inconvenience. I used those credits to buy my first Gr3 car.

My new Gr3 ride. Thanks GT7!

I’m really enjoying Gran Turismo 7 and its changes so far, but I will get into that in another post. For now, let’s talk about game updates.

Too Many Updates

When it comes to my latest PlayStation consoles (4 and 5) and my PC (via Steam), any time I boot them up there’s always a game to update. Usually, it’s the game I was thinking of playing. Now, depending on my internet speed, I’m stuck waiting for an update before I get to play — it may take a few minutes or a couple of hours.

What happens now? I may watch a show or browse my library (of downloaded games) for something to play in the meantime. I’m also frequently checking the download status to see how long the update will actually take.
Is it ready yet?

It’s funny how the estimated download time starts with days, then goes down to hours, then minutes (maybe seconds, if you’re lucky). What they don’t tell you is that once the download completes there’s still the extra time to install the update. Extra time which wasn’t included in that original estimate.

This is mostly a problem when it comes to playing brand new titles or ongoing/online games. Games like Overwatch and Rocket League are updated frequently with new modes, seasons and all kinds of content. A new AAA game like Elden Ring or Horizon: Forbidden West may receive weekly or daily updates due to patches, buffs and other fixes.

*Side Quest: Early Access games are constantly being updated, but that’s understandable.
Any game I have on Steam in Early Access, I expect a couple of updates per week. These are
games that are actively being worked on, as the community plays them and provides feedback.

Not Enough Updates

When it comes to Nintendo Switch, it’s sort of the opposite. I check for updates on the game I want to play, but there’s usually nothing available. It feels strange to expect an update for a game and your Nintendo Switch tells you, “You’re good, go ahead and play.” It feels even weirder when you just updated that same game on your PlayStation, Xbox or PC and then you wonder, Why aren’t they keeping up with the Switch version?

The other day I jumped back into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, after not playing for almost a year. Before loading up the game I checked for an update. When there was no update to download I was a bit disappointed. It’s been almost a year and there’s been no changes? I guess they’ve been hard at work on
this sequel.

Quick Nintendo Switch game update.

I will say that most Nintendo Switch updates are very fast to download, and small in size. Even updating the entire system takes seconds. The Nintendo Switch is still an amazing piece of gaming hardware, over five years later.

The Right Amount?

So, what is the right amount of updates? I don’t know the answer, but I would say somewhere in between the PlayStation/PC and Nintendo Switch timing. I’m not complaining about updates, because I think it’s great to have game creators supporting their projects well past release date. It just gets a little annoying when every time I go to play WWE 2K22 or Elden Ring, I first have to wait for an update.

Frequent updates are great, because that shows the team behind the game cares about the community. Instead of releasing updates on random days, maybe there should be a specific update day during the week for each game. That way we’ll know to check early in the day, if possible, for a fresh new update before you want to play the game later that night. You can even download it in the morning, so it’s ready when you come back.

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