How an Update can Change a Game

I’m sure that this is something many of you have experienced before: you were playing one of your favorite games, having a grand old time and keeping to yourself, when suddenly, out of nowhere, an update or patch comes along to change an aspect or two of the game that you loved so much. Yeah, it might still be a fun game, but perhaps not quite as fun as before. However, occasionally a patch comes along that changes the mechanics of a game so drastically that the entire playing experience is altered. At this point, I’m wondering, can it still be said that it’s even the same game?

There’s a certain thought experiment known as Theseus’ ship wherein the question is posed as to whether an old ship that has gradually had all of its boards replaced is still the same ship when there are no more original wooden boards remaining. As with any thought experiment, there are no right answers, but my gut inclination is to believe that at a certain point, the ship ceases to be the same ship it was. If this is the case, then it must follow that after a certain number of fairly significant patches, a game leaves behind its old identity and slips into a new one. This is inherently neither a positive nor negative process, but, from personal experience, it can be hard to see a game that was already perfect changed so much.

Anyways, just a quick thought that I had after updating League for the millionth time. As always, I’d love to hear what you guys think. Are the changes oftentimes not as expansive as I potentially make them out to be? Have any of your favorite games changed in this manner? Thanks for reading!

0 thoughts on “How an Update can Change a Game

  1. I have had a similar experience in the past playing the browser RPG AdventureQuest. I joined in 2004, a year or two after the game first came out, when it was described as a casual free RPG experience that could be played on your lunchbreak. By 2007 the plot of the series became a worldspanning epic including reptilian spiritual parasites from outer space and a godlike entity attempting to unmake reality. They also introduce Z-tokens, a pay-to-win system where many of the best items and features could only be unlocked with real money. They also took the existing one-time payment for premium members and added further payments to upgrade even further into X-Guardian membership. The game I had started playing did not feel the same anymore, and I missed the days when the biggest threats were giant monsters with tragic backstories. (Carnax!)

  2. A great example of a game being ruined by certain updates can be seen in the way the popular game Runescape underwent some major changes. The player response to these changes was so overwhelmingly negative that the developer brought back an older build of the game which is the one now mostly played by Runescape players. In addition it has also created an interesting development process in which all future updates for this version of the game are voted on by the community and I believe it requires over 75% of voting players to support the update or it isn’t implemented.

  3. I think that Runescape is pretty accurate example. However, I disagree with Runescape’s new approach to it’s update system.

    People don’t like change. Since I just recently read a post about COD I will use it as an example. In MW3, Activision released an update that weakened the m16A4 in online play. Because so many people were using the powerful m16A4, a large percentage of COD’s user base was extremely upset, myself included. However, if COD cancelled the update due to user response, the gun would’ve have continued to be overpowered. Other guns would not be used as much, new strategies would not be implemented, and those testing the weaker guns would be at a disadvantage.

    People don’t like change. People need change.

  4. While this isn’t directly related, I find the idea of Theseus’ Ship to be somewhat analogous to the so-called “7-year cycle” of the human body. Essentially, after 7 years, your body has replaced all of its cells with new ones. None of your physical matter remains from the previous 7-year matter. Are we still the same? Or are we “updates” of our past selves?

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