This, my friends, is why publishers do not patch competitive games on consoles all that often. However, there two methods that make balance patching worthwhile, and we are seeing them crop up more and more in competitive games all the time.
The first is to couple your balance patch with a gigantic content update. The gaming populace doesn't scoff at paying for extra content as much as they scoff at fixes for a game that "should have been fixed in the first place," and I can't use quotes any heavier there if I tried. It's impossible to create a perfect game no matter how many QA resources you have, so the idea that the game shouldn't have had exploits or bugs in the first place is actually just false. But that won't keep the gaming populace from repeating that mantra over and over again. This is why the Trojan horse of new content is an extremely valuable tool. If your needed balance changes come with new maps or new guns or new characters, gamers simply wouldn't mind coughing up a few extra bucks for it.
Secondly, we have pre-planned DLC. Now, I know many of you hate the idea of a company planning DLC before a game even comes out, especially when they have included data on the actual disk. But just hear me out for a second. If a company has already made their DLC (I.E. already put the data on the disk) then they have already planned to make money on that DLC. This means that they are banking on the idea that there will still be interest in the game by the time the DLC becomes available to buy.
If interest in the game falls off by the time this DLC comes out, then the company loses a tremendous amount of money as no one will be interested in buying their on-disk pre-planned DLC. Considering this, they have to support the game with balance patches just to keep the community satisfied or else they will lose more money in the long run. Though I personally disagree with on-disk DLC as a practice, this is just one way that it's actually beneficial to gaming as a whole.
Lack of balance is one of the biggest challenges that competitive games face. As we get closer and closer to a wholly digital medium, balance patching will become more and more common, as it is on the PC. Though, for now, the future of balance patching in games is uncertain. Without a way to turn game balance into money, we may not see it become an accepted practice.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: July 12, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*