PCP For: Should Companies Update Products Periodically?

Thomas Willert - 3A Mechanical
Posted on: June 3, 2016

To counter the idealistic perfect world that the complete revolutionary video game is produced in, we the consumer must remember that this is a business. A business that is made to entice the player to continue the story through the next game, as well as feel out the way the user likes to play and make changes to ensure they are happy with what they feel.

The greatest examples of successful long term video game studios are Infinity-Ward and Treyarch. These two companies are producing games at a rate that matches the fast turnover of the market. The producers and designers of the Call of Duty series have a model of one game a year combined. With each company producing a game every other year, they keep advancing two stories providing the audience with regular content and keeping the plot fresh. As well as this, releasing games regularly allows for the game to be up-to-date with the latest technology advances.

The most recent example of this is with their upcoming release of their new game Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. This game, to be released in November this year, is the 6th installment of the Modern Warfare Series, and last years’ release Black OPS 3 is the 4th installment of their historical combat series. With two entirely unrelated series, they are able to advance content in one based on information from the other, gaining the best of both worlds. This also allows for greater advancement in-story, as ideas that don’t fit one game may suit the other better.  Furthermore, the fast turn-around allows for rapid response to dislike for game style, allowing for the market to forget it quickly and lose any resentment for the company rather than having the bad reputation brew over for the many years between game releases. The latest and most brilliant move of the studio was to remaster the classic Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and release it as part of a special edition package deal with their newest release. This means that the multiplayer that was well loved by all players will once again be available to play; the only catch is that they can only be purchased together. While this seems like a tricky move, it is giving the purchaser two games for slightly over the price of one. For years, video games have been capped at stores for the price of $60USD per game, but now studios have a way to break that barrier in a way that caters to the gamer better.

As well being able to be consistent and well updated in style, this plan also provides the company with greater financial security, as there is consistent cash flow into the company. Not only does it bring constant inflow of cash, but it also allows for cheaper production costs by being able to only have to deal with updates rather than full overhauls on the game’s core engine. The constant outflow of games allows for a less pressing need to renovate the engine entirely between games, as the one has many different ways to be updated before it needs to be replaced.

Overall, this system has proven worth in a variety of games, the most common form being with first person shooters where there is a heavily competitive online community, but it was also proven with a variety of single player story games where the engine doesn’t require big changes. A great example of this is Assassin’s Creed, where there is a very complex story but the game style is similar from game to game, due to the unique way they styled the player’s movements and weapons. Where Call of Duty prides itself in being a shooter with a good story, Assassin’s Creed takes the stance of a great story with a unique and interactive game play style, which is highlighted heavily by the way and rate Ubisoft produces the game.

Lastly, the largest and easiest to dismiss concern from this style of game is the “day one patch”, which is when a studio releases a game slightly early and the purchaser then has to deal with a glitchy game for a day before all of the issues are addressed. This is actually a very clever way of completing all of the finer and nitty-gritty QA checks that need to be completed. Though no developer wants to do this as a primary option, as the game studios get larger it becomes more of a corporate decision than an individual’s decision. Therefore, if the company wants a specific marketing ploy or a fancy release date and the game only needs final touch ups it is easier to get the sales and release a patch to fix the issues that arise, and it is easy to do now that most consoles are online at all times. Overall, releasing games rapidly stimulates the market and allows for consumers to diversify their collection with more games and different play styles. As well as this, it allows for quick response from the company as the next game is only a year away, rather than having the stigma of a bad game stay with them for many years and impact their next sale.