Valve: Xbox game patch rules "a train wreck"

Half-Life developer mourns lack of updates for its 360 titles but is "happy" with PS3

Portal 2 developer and Steam owner Valve has criticised Microsoft's update system for Xbox 360 games.

Senior Valve staff admitted the "total failure" of updates for multiplayer shooter Team Fortress 2 on 360 to PC Gamer, but laid the blame at Microsoft's feet.

"We thought that there would be something that would emerge," said CEO Gabe Newell of Microsoft's update restrictions, "because we figured it was a sort of untenable... 'Oh yeah, we understand that these are the rules now, but it's such a train wreck that something will have to change.'"

Added lead designer Erik Johnson, "TF2 on the PC side has delivered a huge amount of value, but we've screwed up on the other side."

The Left 4 Dead developer was far more positive about PlayStation 3, following its surprise return to the Sony fold at this year's E3.

"That's why we're really happy with the current situation with the PS3," said Newell. "We're solving it now in a way that is going to work for our customers, rather than assuming something is going to emerge later that will allow us to fix this."

Valve also revealed that it had at one point been working on a game about fairies, before axing the project in favour of Left 4 Dead.

Related stories

Steam Direct fee set at $100

"We've decided we're going to aim for the lowest barrier to developers as possible, with a $100 recoupable publishing fee per game"

By James Brightman

Indie future is unclear as Greenlight goes dark

Shuttering Greenlight was long overdue - but its replacement, Direct, is no panacea for problems facing digital storefronts

By Rob Fahey

Latest comments (19)

Terence Gage Freelance writer 7 years ago
Wasn't the whole PS3 a 'train wreck' or something very similar a few years ago according to Gabe Newell?!

How times have changed.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dale Bray Studying Psychology with Politics bsc, Keele University7 years ago
It seems that valves attitude towards the consoles is to insult them until they cave in and cater to valves needs.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dylan Martin Freelance Writer 7 years ago
Or alternatively, they gave Microsoft a fair chance and then gave up when they realized it would be cheating the customers to charge them for every major update.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (19)
Pete Thompson Editor 7 years ago
@ Dylan Martin. Like a lot of people i've been playing the 360 since it's launch and I've never yet paid for an update of any game (on either console!).. The PS3 update system leaves a lot to be desired as its way to time consuming having to download a game update and then having to wait yet again while it's installed, this becomes tedious after inserting a new game you've been waiting to play only to have to wait for anything upto 30mins.. As for the PC side of things well Valve are hardly going to admit to any problems with the PC updates as they own Steam so they are unlikely to critisise themselves..
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Peter Law Freelance Game Designer and Unity Developer, Enigma 237 years ago
What would up improve on the Steam updating? Personally think it's great, I regularly come to my PC to find it's updated several things and they're now ready to play straight away.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Pete Thompson Editor 7 years ago
I rarley use steam, Infact only ever use steam if a review copy comes via a steam code to download.. I was just saying that I doubt if there were any issues with steam that Valve would have mentioned it while slagging off XboxLive..
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Gregory Keenan7 years ago
Steam downloads as fast as it can, doesn't need installing (nearly all the time)

The patches for TF2 are just so numerous and large that if the patch where to be released for the 360 it could easily be over 1GB, Microsoft as far as im aware charge for updates after three free ones, and would probably argue that 1GB isn't a patch, its a DLC.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Stefan Pettersson Specialist Consultant, Fat Tuna7 years ago
PSN updates are the real "train wreck". Espcecially since you can't opt out (if online) and the loading times are a joke (up to 30 mins with install included). XBL updates are downloaded and installed within 30 seconds in comparison. Both my consoles are connected to the same router with networkcables so these are real life numbers.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Abraham Tatester Producer 7 years ago
I don't think there's a need to "slag off" anyone—Valve and Microsoft just have very different philosophies regarding updates and patches. Valve is focused on providing value, while Microsoft is focused on making a profit any chance they can. And I don't mean that disparagingly—Microsoft is a public company that has to answer to shareholders. Valve is privately held.

Of course as a gamer, it's only natural that I prefer Valve's approach! I look forward to having their games on the PS3.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Abraham Tatester on 10th September 2010 5:51pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Private Industry 7 years ago
Stefan you can opt out of PS3 updates when online, just press the circle button and you will skip the update as easy as that.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
James Prendergast Research Chemist 7 years ago
@ Peter Law - Steam could improve its downloading by allowing users to download the updates in the background and then install them separately. This would allow users to play the games without having to wait for the update to finish (as was originally promised by valve - the whole download a fraction of the game and download the rest while you play never really came to fruition).

Not everyone leaves their PCs on all the time... or even Steam. I find that this is a huge hassle for myself, especially when wanting to play a singleplayer game only to find that i need to download something that will take 30+ mins. Essentially the same problem that people have with the PS3 download system - there's no flexibility.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Glen Elliott Partner/Head of Sales, European Game League7 years ago
What are the rules that Microsoft impose? I have heard different things, even as much as $25k and three week wait (test) time?
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Private Industry 7 years ago
There are certain rules for how much free content can be given away, see Red Dead Redemptions need to put the free update into the payed DLC package. I think there where some specific infos in the RDR article covering the problem of not able to give the update away for free.

Now with a game like TF2 that get`s frequently updated and new things added that`s kind of a problem if you are forced to charge something for each update as it would probably considered a content update and can`t be counted as a patch.

Just because Microsoft is as greedy as scrooge doesn`t mean they should tell other companies if they have to charge something or not.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Antony Carter Senior Programmer, Epic Games7 years ago
There are charges for updates on xbox for sure they may not all be passed on to the consumer but for the publisher/developer it can be a hard pill to swallow.

There are actually some cases where you may have paid for an 'Update' Microsoft disguises them as DLC, but on other platforms there free, for example Mirrors Edge extra levels are a free update on every platform except XBox 360.

Another example is content just not coming to Xbox 360 at all like in Unreal Tournament 3, Where massive updates were given for free on PC and PS3, but never showed the light of day on Xbox.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Stefan Pettersson Specialist Consultant, Fat Tuna7 years ago
Thanx for the tip Werner! That sure will come in handy.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Richard Alpagot7 years ago
I do think it should be up to the developer as to how many free updates they want to release. If they are bug fixes / gameplay improvements then an infinite amount should be aloud for free! I think that would be a fair compromise and then for any added content (levels, game changing features etc) to have set rules in place such as 3 free major updates. Please correct me if this is already the case.

Also for the smaller devs... they can't knock out multiple games to keep up their cash flow..Prolonging the games life span really does add valve and brand recognition to the company and keeps them in peoples minds. This is key to keeping your followers happy and continuing to buy your products.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Valve simply has a completely different philosophy of taking care of their games. Frequent updates combined with new content (maps/game modes/campaigns) and smaller content patches (Hats and stuff ..) are out of XBox's regular scope it seems.

"Either put a price on your regular DLCs or leave it be", says Microsoft. The thing is Valve doesn't request extra money for most of their additional content/DLC on the PC platform, this is because their software as a service way of thinking. This is what makes Valve so popular as a developer on the PC. Microsoft on the other hand needs to sustain a "one size - fits all" scheme for XBox Live and seldom lets developers do something out of the line.

Microsoft completely abandoned the PC gaming platform with their studios and they seem not all too understanding of Valves approach as it is incompatible for the complex beast of a system they've set up for XBox Live. Calling something a "train wreck" though just because it isn't flexible enough for a quite radical approach to making games is too much. Sorry Valve, everyone knows how XBox Live works and what the rules are - trying to meander around it like in L4D2 with the mutations isn't helpful for an open discussion either.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
360 has a constrained ruleset on what you can do with an update, the point being a consistent user experience across all games on entire platform, and it works really well.

PS3, you can do almost anything you like - sony leave it up to the publisher/developer of the title to decide what the user experience is going to be, for better or worse.

Neither approach is wrong here, both are totally valid - but Valve like the freedom to do what they think is best for their games and consumers, so they naturally like PSN more. Between this, the networking setup and the PSN self-publishing rules for indie developers, PS3 is probably the most 'open' console platform there has ever been.

As a consumer, I can overlook the minor inconvenience of a larger download/install if I'm getting regular updates and more value out of the product I've bought.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Stephen Gaffney on 13th September 2010 11:42am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
As a consumer I much prefer that on the PS3 I seem to constantly have to download on the odd occasion I decide to play it. Especially when they are so compact and quick to download.

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.