Nearly every game released has bugs, and these bugs are often fixed with patches released after the game has been sold to millions of people. Online games are especially prone to this due the huge number of players discovering tactics and tricks that can be considered overpowered and, subsequently, leads to copious amounts of whining. Modern Warfare 3 is going to have updates without patches through dark forces and deals with the Devil. Or just simple technology.
Executive producer Mark Rubin said “One of the big things we’ve changed is the ability to alter the game post-launch. That doesn’t sound like a cool feature, it sounds simple – it’s like ‘why can’t you just release patches?’ Well, games don’t work that way – you can patch some things, but for others, it’s a significant deal, patching is not broad enough to do everything in the game, So one behind-the-scenes feature allows us to update files, sometimes without even doing a full patch – we can just tweak things like weapon balance, which we could never do before. In the past, we’d put out a game and realize, ‘hmm, that’s weapon’s really over-powered’ but there was nothing we could do about it.
“With twenty million people playing the game, you learn more in the ten minutes after release than you do in months of pre-launch playtesting. So that tech feature was a big thing for us.”
He also talked about fighting back against hackers and cheaters who ruin the game for everyone else to the point they deserve to be stripped of their human rights. “Security was a big problem in previous games, so we’ve done a whole lot on that to create what we hope is a much more secure game. Part of that is learning from Treyarch’s work on Black Ops and being pro-active and aggressive on banning, watching the leader boards, looking for cheaters.”
Being able to tweak things remotely without a patch has several upsides. If a weapon is far too unbalanced, it can be changed on the fly and affect everyone right away, making it easy to keep the details in check. Having to download a huge patch in order to rebalance a few weapons is incredibly annoying and one of the reasons I quit League of Legends. It does not take a 60mb patch to nerf Vayne.
Preparation like this saves time for both developers and the gamers, resulting in an all-round better experience. Modern Warfare 2 was given masses of criticism from gamers and reviewers for the massive amounts of cheating and the time it took to correct the errors.