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The Outer Worlds: Are Paid Updates Worth It?

The Outer Worlds is getting a paid update, and it’s a hard sell. Take a game that’s more than three years old and polish it up a bit, and then charge for it all over again. How can you justify that?


Well, the justification is that people have had to work on it, and that is hard to argue with. People have absolutely had to work on it. How much? We don’t know. I guess it changes from game to game. The Witcher 3 has a different degree of work to it than The Outer Worlds, which has a different level of work than Fallout 4. Some of those are free to existing owners. Some aren’t.

We could look at this from the perspective of perceived quality. The Witcher 3 is one of the best-rated games of all time and THEY can give a free upgrade. But presumably CD Project reckon they’ll be making a lot more money in the future than Private Division with The Outer Worlds. The update will pay for itself over the course of a generation, as more people interested in The Witcher purchase it brand new. The Outer Worlds, without all the Netflix adaptions and constant buzz, will likely sell less copies. These are not equal comparisons.

Or perhaps that’s being too fair. Private Division want an immediate return on the effort put into the update, and CD Project understand the PR benefit of a longer tail. You get a lot of people playing your game again, and maybe they’ll buy Cyberpunk or… whatever. There are a couple of ways that you could justify that.

Updating The Outer Worlds

And I think what I’m trying to get to, is that clearly not every game can be treated equally. There isn’t an inherent entitlement to a free update. Even if you can download the game on PC, play it at full graphical power and at above 60FPS already. That’s annoying and a good advert for PC. But it’s not necessarily a free ride on console. There are costs involved that developers (or in this case publishers) are not necessarily going to eat up.

The sense of frustration doesn’t necessarily come from having to pay for something that should be free. I think that’s a common misinterpretation from people who want gamers to be entitled assholes. It comes from the marketing of it all, as always. This attempt to generate hype in something that should be relatively commonplace. Developers should want their titles to play as well as the possibly can, on whatever hardware they are available to play on. If your improvements sound like something fans will do for free, or that can already be done on PC, your fans aren’t going to be too excited by paying for the benefit. Because your additional effort is only bringing it in line with expectations. And more than three years after the fact too.

This is all a long way of saying buy the updated Outer Worlds if you want it, and don’t buy it if you don’t. That should be common sense. But clearly there are issues here, both with presentation and expectation. And I’m not sure anybody has managed to figure it all out yet.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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