That’s the phrase that games previously used to use when a game was finished. Not just the programming, but all the QA. It was the sign that the game you were waiting for, for months or years was finally ready. You knew that once a game had gone gold it meant that all the work that was going to go into the game was complete. There were no more tweaks. No more things to add. What was done was ready to ship for you to consume. It was glorious and it was simple.
If a game was broken by the time that it got to you, you were out of luck. Need to get into that last room with the final key, but there’s an invisible wall keeping you out oh well. You could comb through the guides or even reference the fledgling online market of guides and message boards for clues as to why it was happening. A broken game remained forever broken.
That was the reality then, but now we have the internet. Most new consoles are connected to the internet and as a result developers have the opportunity to send us extra material after the fact. We can get additional game play or characters. It’s the land of Downloadable Content. While that may a whole conversation for itself, the delivery of DLC has also given developers the opportunity for updates and patches. These little updates can bring new functionality to games that previously didn’t have it. However, developers have been using these updates to bring functionality to games that should have been there upon it’s delivery. The updates are fixing problems that should have been fixed before the game was announced as going gold.
Now, I am not a gamer who has to worry about a 4GB update to my brand new game costing me money because my internet package is capped. However, there are many people who have to worry about this very problem. There are places in this country where a 4GB download could take half the night. There are people who just want to play a game, but a 4GB download can be more than half a data package. Imagine going out to purchase a year old game you’ve waited to play. Unless, you purchase the Game of the Year or a re-release of the game, you are looking at still having to download any updates that came out after the games release.
This shouldn’t be happening. If a game isn’t ready to the extent that a developer is comfortable with, then it isn’t gold. If there are still flaws that they intend to iron out, then the game isn’t gold. It simply isn’t ready. Yet, developers have grown comfortable with the idea that they can simply fix their games up after the fact. They can send an update and fix the problems that should have been fixed before launch. Developers are taking this, close enough approach, much too frequently. If you have a patch ready for day one, it probably should have been included in the first place.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that I know the intricacies that go into game development in this current era. Not even close. However, I’m not fool enough to realize that is just how things have to be. Especially not when there are games that are delivered that aren’t saddled with these sorts of issues. Games that release and play as they were intended without the need of patches to fix the functionality of game play. What I do know is that Nintendo is capable of delivering games that don’t require the amount of patches that many AAA studios have begun to consider customary. I know that there are some major studios that release games that don’t have issues.
At the end of the day my real problem with these situations isn’t with the games. My issue is with the fact that these games are claiming they have gone gold and are being pushed out before they are ready, just so they can meet a deadline. I get it, there is a business and there is pressure to deliver a product to make money by a certain date. However, continual low quality is not going to bring in new gamers. At the very least it would be nice if games stopped referring to themselves as going gold when it’s more like going silver.