There’s a lot of talk about what should and shouldn’t be done on next-gen systems.

In this ever-developing market, however, there is one feature that absolutely needs to be a part of every system intent on having an impact on the market over the next 6-7 years. Detailed patch-notes.

Yes, seriously…

It seems like the most obvious thing in the world, but it’s something home consoles have yet to get right.

Fire up an Xbox game for the first time in a few months and chances are you’ll be prompted to update it. Yet, instead of telling you why your game needs to be updated, Microsoft just expect you to do it.

In this day and age, that’s unacceptable.

Yes, Microsoft put a lot of detail on their website about what the latest firmware update will add to Xbox, and yes, Gearbox will write a full blog post about what will appear in the next installment of Borderlands, but if you’re not willing to surf to those places and read around, as far as you’re concerned, you could be downloading anything. Informative patch notes need to be available on the console prior to downloading. It’s a two-way street of basic communication, and right now that’s not happening.

As a result, you’re placing an incredible amount of trust in both Microsoft and 2K, assuming that this critical update won’t break your game irreperably or add a feature that you’re not especially comfortable with.

That trust has not always been well-placed. At some point in your gaming cycle, you’re likely to have downloaded a patch that has actually caused more problems than it fixed, and have had to wait for a follow-up patch to be released in order to fix these issues. If only you’d not bothered updating in the first place…

Developers are talking about ‘always-online’ connectivity, subscription models, better support for indie developers, higher resolutions and improved overall quality, but sometimes it’s the simplest things that are forgotten. There needs to be better communication between developers, publishers and consumers.

Take a look at the Apple AppStore, for instance. Every update is optional and always accompanied with a full list of foot notes. The consumer has the opportunity to read the notes prior to downloading and can then decide if they want to put it on their iPhone or iPad.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ll probably never be free of downloading patches on home consoles. If anything, they will become more essential and impossible to avoid as games continue to progress and develop. Multiplayer servers rarely support anything other than the most up-to-date version of the game.

That’s not an excuse to keep consumers in the dark.

The 21st Century gamer is smarter. Many of them are coders, or they’re trying to design their own games, or are writing a blog about games. Some may already be in the industry. It’s unfair to try and fob them off by saying ‘you wouldn’t understand what’s been done’ or ‘the updates are so minor they’re not worth talking about’.

The industry needs to be more upfront. Consumers deserve better. If a developer makes those notes accessible to the player, without them having to go searching every single update, it shows they’re supporting the game after release and exactly what they’re fixing. It shows they care, and it can even be of further benefit to the relationship shared between developer and consumer.

Have you ever downloaded a patch and wondered what it actually contained? Did you ever determine what it does?

Shout about it below and let us know.


  • Jackobinen

    You’ve got a point. This has always annoyed me too. (It’s a little wierd to use an image of the Playstation 4 logo and then not even mention Playstation 4, Playstation or even Sony in the text…just FYI.)

    • http://www.expansivedlc.com Laurie Jones

      I’ve gone for a PS4 image as it’s the only next-gen console announced at this point. I know that it seems weird (especially considering I relate most experiences to Xbox) but it seemed the best thing to do as i’m talking about next-gen. Thanks

    • LaurieTLC

      I’ve gone for a PS4 image as it’s the only next-gen console announced at this point. I know that it seems weird (especially considering I relate most experiences to Xbox) but it seemed the best thing to do as i’m talking about next-gen. Thanks

      • DarthDiggler

        @laurietlc:disqus Has Microsoft deployed many game breaking patches on the Xbox?

        • LaurieTLC

          There’s at least two or three that come to mind, but even one is too much.

          • DarthDiggler

            @laurietlc:disqus Agreed, now were these changes that were game breakers directly because of the patch? Or new features within the patch?

            If they add a new feature and it messes things up kind of hard to blame it on the patch persay.

            I can’t recall any patches on the PS3 that really broke anything. I can remember being upset that guns didn’t work as well, or that developers have patched out a useful exploit (DC Universe Online is notorious for this LOL).

  • DarthDiggler

    “As a result, you’re placing an incredible amount of trust in both Microsoft and 2K, assuming that this critical update won’t break your game irreperably or add a feature that you’re not especially comfortable with.

    That trust has not always been well-placed. At some point in your gaming cycle, you’re likely to have downloaded a patch that has actually caused more problems than it fixed, and have had to wait for a follow-up patch to be released in order to fix these issues. If only you’d not bothered updating in the first place…”

    First off I would suggest that 2K Games and Microsoft both are both a much better authority of if you should patch your games. Whatever information the patch notes would reveal it would never state that the patch wasn’t working. That isn’t something you would know prior to deployment usually patches fix problems when they don’t it is usually a surprise to everyone including the developer.

    The vast majority of games that REQUIRE updates are Multiplayer games. These games simply wouldn’t operate if the audience was using mix-matched versions of the game.

    You are suggesting that you would have a choice to update a Multiplayer gamer but that isn’t the case no matter what platform you are playing on. The only place you may get away with this is Mobile, but I would be shocked if Mobile multiplayer didn’t require updates.

    So whatever the patch notes say it will be immaterial if it is a required update.

    Would it be nice to have access to the patch notes each time you update? Sure it would be there would be less things for bloggers like you to report on.

    • dakan45

      Oh hi, the console optimization is myth. Games on pc still run on 6 year old pcs..ON CONSOLE SETTINGS.

      • DarthDiggler

        @dakan45:disqus How is your comment relevant to what I said at all? :P Giving yourself a higher place to comment doesn’t help when people can’t understand the context.

        BTW – Games you buy today still run on a 6 year old PS3. :)

        • dakan45

          Your comments int he other site got deleted, so yeah, the console optimization is a myth.

          The ps3 version looks like shit though, on pc you can set the much much better without the insane costs. My pc is 5 years old and i play games on high to max.

          The diffirences are stuggering, most games are low to med settings.

          So dont listen to “teh optimized for core with sony experts” crap

        • Rinslowe Calrision

          Lol, I thought that was kinda clever! ;)

    • LaurieTLC

      What Dakan said. Also, if you remember back to Fallout: New Vegas, there was a patch released that actually broke elements of the game and left it in a worse state. I don’t think it was the first patch for the game, but if you bought at launch, you may have been able to pick and choose what they version of the game you want to play.

      If you don’t update the game with a Single-Player patch, then you can still continue to play in many cases. Multi-Player is a different story.

      Also, by showing patch notes on the console, it does show accountability and it proves they’re fixing the mistakes that need fixing without forcing you to go searching for them.

      Also, when I put about trusting Microsoft and 2K, I don’t mean they’re going to put a virus on your system, but I mean more about trusting them not to add game breaking glitches as seen in New Vegas.

      • DarthDiggler

        @laurietlc:disqus Well @dakan45:disqus’s comments were completely irrelevant to my post. This particular article is speaking in reference to consoles mostly. Consoles have certification so there is a bit more of a level of quality control for patches. On the PC there is no qualification process the developer can release whatever code they please.

        The fact is for the next generation of consoles patching will likely be a silent background process. Nine out of ten users don’t really care what is in a patch (admittedly 99% of the people who read this article are not those people).

        I am not saying it’s not a bad feature, just saying it will largely be unappreciated by 90% of the gaming audience.

        • LaurieTLC

          You’re probably right there. Thank you for sharing your feedback. It’s nice to hear varying opinions on the subject. I just find it strange that people wouldn’t want to know what’s been changed in their game. After all, it does change the game they’re playing, one way or another.

          • DarthDiggler

            @laurietlc:disqus The PS Vita has like a game “landing page” and I hear the PS4 will borrow that idea, they could have a link there to patch notes and such. So the feature could be easily implemented.

            With how much gamers like to complain I would likely shy away from this feature. I would hate for a gamer to complain about a change and not play the game. If they didn’t notice the change than the developers have done their job.

            I know I used to get hella mad at Battlefield 3 patch notes, but now I play the game first before I read them. :) That way I can see how robust the changes are.

      • dakan45

        resistance 3 had a similar problem.

  • oo7PorscheMGS

    One word: AGREED!!!!!!!!!

    More words: Been annoyed with this since the PS3 came out. Games should NOT have to go to a “PS Blog” or go hunting to find out what the HECK they are downloading!!! It’s NOT that hard to TELL gamers what they are downloading BEFORE the download starts. DO IT SONY, and make ALL your developers do it on all THEIR games TOO if it’s on your system!!!

  • Rinslowe Calrision

    “Informative patch notes need to be available on the console prior to downloading”.

    Nintendo has an early working version of this idea on Miiverse… But is specific to Nintendo only. I guess it wouldn’t be too difficult for Studio’s or Publishers to manage their own communities on Miiverse…