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Keatah

When did they start selling incomplete games?

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Why they'a selling incomplete games? Because they know you will be happy to pay for the privilege of beta testing for them. Because they can.. and more.. But when did this practice start? It isn't like there was an off/on switch where one day games were complete and moderately bug-free and all of a sudden they needed to be half-bought and half-downloaded with bugfixes every week.

 

This seemed to be a gradual process that started around the "Doom era" more or less and grew as connectedness picked up speed. I might even argue it's always been there. We just didn't notice it till the past 10 years and today when it is out of hand. Out of hand to the point it eats into the gaming experience. And operating systems are even worse, they are patched daily. Not a day goes by one of our win10 rigs is receiving updates. Are they that bad to begin with - requiring such measures..?

 

Shit. Man. With Doom we had a couple of updates a year. And not only were bugs repaired, but new features were added too. In between these patches (if you want to use that as a measure of time progression) we had user add-ons and we loved it!

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It started on consoles when hard drives were required to install games,  it started on PC sooner

 

Before that there are plenty of games that were released buggy, and you sometimes had to manually download a patch and apply it manually.  The Original Sims on PC comes to mind from the year 2000.  The original disc was very buggy and crashed all the time,  they released several patches that  you had to download and pray that it fixed your issue..  then each expansion pack (also on disc) added its own bug fixes and share of new bugs.

 

I swore off PC gaming in the early 2000s because it became such a mess.    But the automated patches have made things a lot better than they were.

 

Another aspect is this practice keeps games alive longer.   Something like Minecraft would not have survived this long without new features being added frequently.   And No Man's Sky would have been completely dead in the water if the 2016 release was the one we were stuck with.    Instead they have turned the game around with a number of updates.

 

So I can't categorically say that it was better in the old days in this case.

 

Imagine if Atari had the ability to patch Pacman or ET BITD...

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This is why the last few years I outright refuse to buy any new AAA title on release.

You pay 40-60$ for what is all to often now a barely playable bare bones base game. Then they immediately start with a stream of exclusives, DLC's, scenario/add-on's, skins and anything else they can think of to hit you in the wallet with.

It is a lot more economical to wait until everything is released, and then buy it as one complete package. But unfortunately there seem to be a too many people all too happy to drop 100-150$ into a single title buying it a piece at a time, so studios keep developing games to this formula because it is highly profitable for them.

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The oldest game that I have seen that had online updates and patches was Daggerfall (1996). When I bought my copy (used, of course) in about 2000, the box included a floppy disk with some of the updates; I latter downloaded the latest updates. I do not know if the game was playable unpatched. 

 

5 hours ago, Tavi said:

It is a lot more economical to wait until everything is released, and then buy it as one complete package. But unfortunately there seem to be a too many people all too happy to drop 100-150$ into a single title buying it a piece at a time, so studios keep developing games to this formula because it is highly profitable for them.

 

Even better, wait and buy the Game of the Year Edition second-hand! I paid about US$8 for Oblivion at a thrift shop, including all of the patches and (most) of the DLC included on disk. Grated, this was some 12 years after it had originally came out, but it was still new to me -- and Bethesda did not make any money on the transaction. 

 

 

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A bit of a reality check is needed here. Games take significantly longer to develop these days and require far more manpower than in any generation prior. If every big-budget project release was halted until sheer perfection was achieved, we would barely see any "AAA" software released in an acceptable time frame. It just is what it is.

 

Remember the '90s when you could have a top-notch game cranked out from start to finish in less than a year? Those days are long gone.

 

I personally don't care as long as the product is stable on release, has a good enough amount of content, is fun, and further updates improve on the game.

 

With PC gaming, one issue that leads to the perception of "buggy, incomplete" products is lack of compatibility with the wide range of end-user hardware configurations that are out there. Not every company can test for every possible user hardware combination and so they will have to roll out updates over time to address issues that crop up. Large companies like Bethesda have entire teams that focus specifically on this, and even with their budget, there's just too much out there to test for 100% compatibility across all hardware combinations. Smaller companies may lack the manpower for this kind of testing almost entirely. Just one of many reasons why updates and patches are a necessity in this day and age.

Edited by Austin
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Standards..standards..standards.. Without adhering to properly implemented and consistent standards problems like bloated game development teams happen. Anyways their inability it isn't my problem. Let some other flunky deal with it. Hehh!

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I feel like Horse Armor for Elder Scrolls Oblivion set off the microtransaction trend, and the resulting consumer freakout. 
 

Since I rarely finish anything, the base game is generally enough for me, for the few traditional type games I buy nowadays. 

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26 minutes ago, Keatah said:

Standards..standards..standards.. Without adhering to properly implemented and consistent standards problems like bloated game development teams happen. Anyways their inability it isn't my problem. Let some other flunky deal with it. Hehh!

That's quite the ignorant way of looking at it.

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Ignorant or not. It IS what one sees. Bloat and overly complex APIs trying to mediate between programmers and diverging hardware standards. The PC gaming complex is too much for its own good.

 

Doesn't have to be that way.

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19 hours ago, jhd said:

 

Even better, wait and buy the Game of the Year Edition second-hand! I paid about US$8 for Oblivion at a thrift shop, including all of the patches and (most) of the DLC included on disk. Grated, this was some 12 years after it had originally came out, but it was still new to me -- and Bethesda did not make any money on the transaction. 

 

 

Sadly, the GotY trend where you buy a physical copy and (almost) all DLC and patches are included seems to have died off with the last console generation.  They don't really seem to repackage and re-release physical anymore.  Instead you get the old physical copy (which IS now frequently cheaper than its online counterpart) and then download all the updates and free items made available post-release.  I did this with a number of PS4 games including Shovel Knight and No Man's Sky.  However, finding those GotY copies just doesn't really happen anymore.

 

The first time I remember getting a "patch" for a game to fix a glitch?  I honestly don't know.  I do remember playing the heck out of PC game called Ascendancy in the 90's.  We did get a patch for that which improved gameplay by making the AI more aggressive.  That was neat and once we played it that way, we couldn't go back.

 

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10 hours ago, Austin said:

A bit of a reality check is needed here. Games take significantly longer to develop these days and require far more manpower than in any generation prior. If every big-budget project release was halted until sheer perfection was achieved, we would barely see any "AAA" software released in an acceptable time frame. It just is what it is.

 

Remember the '90s when you could have a top-notch game cranked out from start to finish in less than a year? Those days are long gone.

 

I personally don't care as long as the product is stable on release, has a good enough amount of content, is fun, and further updates improve on the game.

 

With PC gaming, one issue that leads to the perception of "buggy, incomplete" products is lack of compatibility with the wide range of end-user hardware configurations that are out there. Not every company can test for every possible user hardware combination and so they will have to roll out updates over time to address issues that crop up. Large companies like Bethesda have entire teams that focus specifically on this, and even with their budget, there's just too much out there to test for 100% compatibility across all hardware combinations. Smaller companies may lack the manpower for this kind of testing almost entirely. Just one of many reasons why updates and patches are a necessity in this day and age.

This is all very true

 

Also buying games day one is overrated except maybe when it's multiplayer where the online population dwindles over time.

 

If you wait, all the early bugs will get fixed,  and there's a good chance you can get it on sale.   I'm only just now playing Witcher 3,  I got the complete edition on sale for $15,  If I bought at launch and paid full price for DLCs, it would have cost over $100.    The game had lots of performance problems at launch, but seems to run fine now.

 

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1 hour ago, Keatah said:

Ignorant or not. It IS what one sees. Bloat and overly complex APIs trying to mediate between programmers and diverging hardware standards. The PC gaming complex is too much for its own good.

 

Doesn't have to be that way.

PC is like this,  console is less so.   Console developers really have to squeeze the performance out of limited hardware, so they still do heavy optimization

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Depends what you mean by "unfinished".  Epyx released an expansion pack for Temple of Apshai in 1981.  My dad got patches on 3.5" disk through the mail for games in the late 80s and early 90s.  There aren't very many games released now that aren't feature complete unless you're talking about Early Access type games on Steam or crowdfunded games on crowdfunding platforms.  The last game I bought that had a game killing bug was one of the Need For Speed titles on the Xbone and I was able to get a refund by calling Microsoft because it was a game I bought digitally.  Otherwise every game I've played has worked as expected.  

 

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38 minutes ago, HammR25 said:

There aren't very many games released now that aren't feature complete unless you're talking about Early Access type games on Steam or crowdfunded games on crowdfunding platforms

I see more and more games that aren't early access add new features some time after they've been released.   The idea that a game is "finished" the day it releases seems like an aging paradigm.    These days adding features helps keep a game and community alive for years

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1 hour ago, zzip said:

I see more and more games that aren't early access add new features some time after they've been released.   The idea that a game is "finished" the day it releases seems like an aging paradigm.    These days adding features helps keep a game and community alive for years


There is nothing wrong with adding features or updates to add content to a game to extend its life (and sales, of course). Fallout 3 or Borderlands 2 are excellent examples of this. A great and 100% complete core game with several completely optional DLC's to extend playability being released later.

What I object to is supposedly 'complete' games like Crusader Kings II being sold, that play more like a demo of a game then an actual game. Which I see they have finally made Free to Play on Steam; but for years it was being previously sold for around 40$ (though a few times a year it was on sale).

Still, at the time you spent up to 40$ to buy the game. Then you quickly realized you need the 50$ DLC package just to make it playable. If you want to play something resembling the full game, now you are shelling out around an extra 200-300$.

It is an extreme example, but I feel the trend is games are moving slowly towards this model; piling on those profitable micro-transactions and not-very-optional DLC's on top of an already hefty AAA title price.

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I remember back in the shareware disk days of the 90's I was always looking forward to version 2.x. Somewhere along the lines it became a pain in the ass, not to mention damaging to my limited pocketbook.

 

I clearly recall some GOTY editions. The one I bought into was Unreal Tournament and Unreal GOTY Edition. That and all the "Unreal" stuff that came before it. Must have spent $250 on it all. But that was in the Pentium III and IV days when I was still stupid and chasing after every GeForce graphics card update no matter how small and incremental.

 

These days I build my own GOTY editions, fwiw, by collecting levels and archives of levels and add-ons. Especially for Doom and flight simulator and space simulator. When GZDoom came out a few years ago it was like a whole'nother upgrade. The exact classic Doom utilizing modern hardware.

 

IMHO those games/sims will never be complete.

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Just did a quick google search and found these:

 

Impossible Mission for the 7800 had a game breaking bug

Faxanadu had a game breaking bug

Quest for Glory 3 and 4 both did

King's Quest 4 did

Leisure Suit Larry 2 did

Jet Set Willy had the attic bug

Paper Mario on the SNES

Action 52 had so many

 

Bugs have been around since text adventures but today we live in an age where they can be fixed. As someone who lived through game breaking bugs just being a fact of life I am perfectly happy to wait a few months while they sort out all the issues and then pick it up. If you want a game day one then you have to accept that there will be bugs in it but at least the chance for a fix is coming.

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i never finished KotOR because of a game-breaking bug at the end of the game.  I don't remember the specifics, but you were in your ship getting ready to go face the Big Bad and boom, it locked up.  I was so irritated I never finished it- i was a doofus and only had the two save games right around where this bug was.  that's partly on me, too, i guess.  :)

 

i'm getting sidetracked, though, but if this had been patched out maybe i'd have finished it.  However, I wouldn't be willing to pay money for a patch disguised as DLC. ;)

 

apologies if this was touched on before, but it seems like to me that 'Season Pass' has now become the point-of-order for modern gaming rather than GOTY editions.  this would circle it back into the 'incomplete game on release' from OP.  'Want to finish the story out?  DLC!  You can get them for 'cheaper' if you get the Season Pass TODAY!  You want QoL improvements that should've been in the game on release?  DLC!'  I'm using hyperbole to illustrate my point, but I don't feel like I'm too far off. lol

 

i really only have anecdotal opinions, so take those as you will- but i do wish there wasn't such a push from the 'suits above' at game companies to get whatever stuff they can shovel out the door as fast as they can to monetize it. 

 

Two specific examples I can think of were the Borderlands 3 release (multi-platform) and the Switch release of Torchlight II- those games clearly needed some more time in the oven before they pushed it out.  We bought a copy of TL2 on release for the Switch and honestly it wasn't playable until six or so months later when they pushed out a QoL patch for it in December.
 

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3 hours ago, digdugnate said:

i really only have anecdotal opinions, so take those as you will- but i do wish there wasn't such a push from the 'suits above' at game companies to get whatever stuff they can shovel out the door as fast as they can to monetize it.

 

This is really the main pain point. Don't mind paying for DLC and updates. But it better not be microtransactions "required" to complete the game or even a segment/chapter/episode of the game.

 

In the old days I even purchased a couple of CD-ROMS with Doom wads and levels, full well knowing they were aggregated from several BBS'es that were totally free aside from time and telephone costs.

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6 minutes ago, Keatah said:

 

This is really the main pain point. Don't mind paying for DLC and updates. But it better not be microtransactions "required" to complete the game or even a segment/chapter/episode of the game.

 

In the old days I even purchased a couple of CD-ROMS with Doom wads and levels, full well knowing they were aggregated from several BBS'es that were totally free aside from time and telephone costs.

yup, i remember those days!  i was playing through some of the Doom stuff on the Switch and telling my son about that.  I had some super cool TCs back in the day, including weird mods that turned the Pinkys into Barney/etc, haha.

 

I think this is where I fundamentally kind of gripe against the Final Fantasy VII remake- it sounds episodic and my concern is that each 'disc' of story is going to be a metered-out time-release DLC purchase. it is what it is, i guess.

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Donkey Kong for the 2600 and NES were missing entire levels from the original arcade game. I never expected arcade perfect graphics and sound back then, but I at least expected an effort to recreate all the levels in the game.

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On 2/11/2020 at 4:56 PM, Tavi said:

It is an extreme example, but I feel the trend is games are moving slowly towards this model; piling on those profitable micro-transactions and not-very-optional DLC's on top of an already hefty AAA title price.

Well base game prices haven't increased in years, and adjusted for inflation, they are now cheaper than the 2600 days,  While game development is far more expensive.   Selling optional add-ons is one of the things that allows the economics to work.

 

But it also pays to be a smart consumer here.   Ignore the need to buy day one, and you can get fantastic deals later.    Don't like microtransactions?  Don't buy them.   Don't support games that make them non-optional.      Honestly though, for all the talk I hear about microtransactions being necessary, I've never enountered a game where that is the case.   I rarely pay for add-ons

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I'm sure someone will skewer me for it and cry anti-so n so fanboy.  But yeah, there is kind of an obvious finger to point at strictly to consoles having beta guinea pig releases and idiots lining up and being ok to pay for it full price.  Microsoft.  First to have a hard drive, first to do online networking for not just gaming but updates/patches and quality of life stuff.  They pushed internal standards and test checks that allowed incomplete games to arrive on the market because they knew that nice fat hard drive could handle it, as would peoples decent little cable/dsl connections 20 years ago.  In a sense they were the test bed for future shitty behavior of developers, and when it persisted to the 360, third parties got on board with the tactic, Sony obviously had to roll right along with it.  Yet oddly Nintendo with their refusal to go HD(dumb) or have really any space in the Wii relying on old SD media, it still lived on with almost all games coming out being as they were, working out of the box.  That persisted well through the WiiU debacle, and fairly well into the Switch still though crap is sliding through and developers get fanboy and media punished and shamed for it at least.

 

To be fair to MS, it's not a shock.  Their bread and butter going back another 20 years was/is the PC and PC gaming.  It was logical for them to make their first console basically a closed up P3 computer with standardized computer parts, which would include the HDD and PC games had been receiving patches back into the 1980s too so it made sense.  The problem is console developers more abuse it, PC developers kind of hit a point where it's more of actual problems that slid by due to the variables of infinite part combos, and consoles don't have that luxury of ignorance which makes it even more wrong.

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