UFC 2014 Glitches: The Reason Why Patching Saves Games

UFC 2014 Glitch

At times I almost feel badly for videogame developers of the past, simply because they only got one chance to make a game great. Once a title shipped, that was it. Whatever was written onto that cartridge or disc is what that game was to the world. The E.T. NES game was so notoriously horrible that millions of copies had to be buried in an unmarked landfill to hide their shame from decent, surface-dwelling folk. Today, many developers have not only the luxury of long and well-funded development cycles, but also the chance to push patches and updates post-release. One particular instance where I can be thankful that patches exist is this latest gem from EA Sports:

With glitches this game-breakingly bad, EA must surely have a patch coming down in no time. That is something that gamers can take comfort in these days. Had this been 1991, the millions of dollars that went into its development would have been scattered to the winds as word got out about this buggy abomination, and the early adopters would be boned. During my time actually working for a game development studio, I was privy to witnessing how well a team can respond to problems using the technology available today. With deep analytics tracking every facet of the game and how it’s being played, focusing down problem areas and patching them is easier than it’s ever been. Economy off balance? Late game too easy? Is the Blargonians’ special Blargle Beam attack just a little too OP for the players? A few changes to the source and a quick push to the player base can fix that right up.

Another prime example of the constantly shifting landscape of a game is League of Legends. Perhaps, some of you have heard of it. The game meta is always changing in League as new characters and items are introduced, champions are balanced, and the Koreans figure out more efficient ways to destroy everyone else on the planet. While gameplay balancing is one of the most delicate and time-consuming prospects of game design, it is extremely important and constantly in need of reiteration. This is especially true in competitive games such as this one. The original Pokémon games had a glitch that many people might remember called Missing No. It completely broke the game, allowing players to max out their Pokémon levels to crush their friends, but we just had to chalk it up as a feature at that point in time. In this new type of arena, bugs and exploits are never able to thrive for long as they can be instantly identified and patched. Final Fantasy XIV once published a list of patch notes stating that they had fixed a bug where “using a job ability could cause the server to crash.” A bug like that sounds insane, but it was fixed immediately before most people even noticed that it existed.

A wild QA engineer has been fired!

A wild QA Engineer has been fired!

The constant reiteration of released titles is one of the greatest parts of videogames. This is one of the very few industries where Joe Schmoe posting on an internet forum about how a particular character in a game is simply too difficult and is ruining his immersion can actually make a difference. Updates can be a double edged sword, however. If I buy NBA 2K14, I do so with the intention of playing my favorite athletes and taking my team to the championship. If Kobe Bryant gets injured 2 weeks after I purchase the game and the Lakers decide to pull him for the remainder of the season, the team at 2K Games will push a patch pulling Kobe from my digital roster. I don’t feel as though I should be punished in the game because Kobe gets hurt in real life. This is supposed to be fantasy! The immersion is too real! Likewise, if Lebron has a few bad games, they might push another patch lowering his overall stats to reflect his recent NBA performance. Suddenly my team doesn’t look like they’re going to be getting any rings this season.

This is, without a doubt, the best time for games in history. While some gamers yearn for the days of the old classics that focused on gameplay instead of market share, we are still better off now in most ways. At least now if you purchase a big budget game that explodes as soon as you press start, you can be confident that a fix is coming soon. It introduces a new way of thinking as well, from a development standpoint. When you shove that baby bird of a game out of the nest and into the waiting clutches of the public, they have the opportunity to tear it apart. Luckily for you, you may also have the opportunity to patch up its little wings and throw it to the wolves for another go. The definition of what it means for a game to be truly completed these days undergoes as much iteration as the games themselves.

Jon Malloy

Jon Malloy

Senior Writer & Editor at What's Jump?
Jon is a writer and co-founder of “What’s Jump?” With a passion for gaming, comedy, and discussion, Jon works to bring his unique views, along with a bit of humor, to his writing. With a background in information technology and development, his interests lean toward the newest trends and technological advancements. Reporting for “What’s Jump?” he is at home both behind the scenes and in front of the camera.
Jon Malloy
Jon Malloy

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