Tom Quirk plays a lot of video games, but when he isn't, he is reading fantasy novels and watching way more television than is healthy.
Whilst necessary patches released on launch day have been present ever since patches became commonplace, it’s starting to get a bit ridiculous. Treyarch’s upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will have a significant day-one patch, and it’s a doozy. Whilst most day-one patches go into the 20-something gigabyte range at the biggest, Black Ops 4 puts them to shame. When you start up the game, players are faced with a whopping fifty gigabyte patch! And to think we thought 23 gigabytes for Kingdom Come: Deliverance was a bit excessive…
This means that, if you’re looking to install the disc version of Black Ops 4 on your PS4 or Xbox One, you need to set aside around 112 gigabytes of free space. This is, however, a consequence of how the files install themselves. Fortunately, the full size of the game after the patch installs will be 55 gigabytes. That is big, but not unexpected for a modern AAA game. Owners of consoles with smaller hard drives may find yourself having to delete some things to make space, however.
This gigantic patch is also significant because, according to the developers, “this update must be installed completely in order to access Multiplayer, Zombies, and Specialist Headquarters”. Whilst it isn’t uncommon for online interactivity to be unavailable if you haven’t installed the latest updates, gating off so much content (some of it offline) behind such a massive patch is somewhat unprecedented. The only exception to this is the Battle Royale “Blackout” mode, which can be accessed after just 30% is installed (which is still about a 16 gigabyte download). By withholding so much content behind this patch, the game becomes essentially unplayable unless you have completed the 50 gigabyte download.
Gating most of the game behind a patch is possibly in order to prevent piracy. However, all this does is seriously inconvenience paying players. With our Australian internet, maybe expect to play your new copy of Black Ops 4 a few days after you buy it.
There are many good reasons for day one patches; for instance, developers can keep working after the game goes gold to fix bugs and improve the experience. This is how Kingdom Come’s Executive Producer Martin Kilma justified it, stating that adding free performance improvements to the game are preferable to adding them in paid DLC. From a consumer perspective, he is correct. However there comes a point where the downsides of the download size outweighs the potential benefits.
Hopefully, prospective buyers will have fast internet speeds. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 launches on the 12th October.