By Lunnington 11 Comments
I'll be honest, my situation is probably not very common. I live outside of Kansas City in a place that's pretty much on the edge of suburban and rural. There's totally a field full of cows across from my (well, my parents) house. My road was gravel up until 6 years ago. There's about an acre in-between us and our neighbor's houses. I was extremely, and I mean extremely lucky that I found our current broadband provider when I was about 14 years old. I was in the middle of convincing my mother to get HughesNet Satellite (I didn't know any better) when my friend down the street told me about this new fixed wireless ISP that just spread to our area. They were cheaper, and advertised the same speed as HughesNet. Their latency was also much much better than beaming a signal into space would have been. That opened me up to the world of gaming, on a 1.0mbps broadband speed. That's megabits, not megabytes. So in browser download speed language that's about 125kB/s. Yeah, pretty slow compared to what you probably have right now.
It's quite magical really. That download speed is just enough to download a full-size game from Steam in about 3 days (or 1 day overnight if I was lucky). Sure, I lagged about 30% of the time while I was playing. I actually expected lag every time I sat down to play, whether it was immediately or an hour or so into my gaming session. It became a part of my gaming - not that I enjoyed it. Over time, after many email exchanges with my ISP, I learned a lot about my home networking and ways to optimize my latency. If other people use the internet at the same time it would cause me to have unplayable lag until they stopped. Peak hours were always unpredictable. I can't play any multiplayer games which have matches that last longer than 20 minutes. Dota 2 and LoL were a total nightmare. If I made it through the entire game without lag then it was considered a miracle.
Now the "next generation" is upon us, yet my internet speed remains the same. The Elder Scrolls Skyrim, a game which released toward the end of the last generation of consoles, is about 13GB unpacked and 6GB to download. That's totally manageable. 6GB at 1mbps takes about 14 hours. That's a decent overnight download for me, with enough time to preload the entire game before it even released. It's not exactly heaven by most people's standards, but it was just fine for me. Most games were like that.
That brings me to now. Let's look at Max Payne 3 for example. This released not long after Elder Scrolls in May of the following year. The download size for Max Payne 3 is 30GB over Steam. That's five times larger than Skyrim. 66 hours of straight downloading. That's 2 days and 18 hours. "But Jake," you might say. "You said you were fine with three days of downloads, like, two paragraphs ago." Keep in mind that "three days of downloads" usually means I download one game when my family and I are not using the internet over the course of three days. I have to do it like that, otherwise it would be a heavy burden and annoyance for the rest of my family. If you try to get on the internet while a Steam download is running in my house then you'd be lucky if you got Google.com to load. So I normally run them while we're all sleeping, which is about eight hours a night. So a game that would take one day of straight downloading becomes a game that takes three. Max Payne, then, becomes a week-long download. Imagine my reaction when I bought this game on Steam and saw that it required 30GB of space on my hard-drive. To this day, I have never played Max Payne 3. This is purely because I have never found the time to devote to downloading it.
The newest release (at the time of this posting) is Wolfenstein: The New Order. A game with decent reviews and a seemingly alright story, right? Guess I'll never play it since it's... 43GB. That's almost 100 hours at my internet speed. That's almost two weeks of actual download time between me purchasing this game and being able to play it. That's just completely outside the realm of plausibility for me. This game, which I could easily pick up in a future Steam sale while I'm on a shopping spree after a holiday bonus, has become unpurchasable for me. I'm not going to spend two entire weeks downloading a first-person nazi shooter. I'm sorry Hitler, but someone else is going to have to stop you.
It appears that this is a new trend for all next-gen games. It's not as much of a problem if I get a next-gen console, because then I could just go out and buy a copy of whatever I want. You know, in that old disc format thing. DVD I think it's called? I would actually still buy my games in disc format if I could. The last one I bought was Bioshock Infinite from Amazon, although I didn't particularly enjoy that game. Before that it was Dishonored from Walmart. Blizzard can still be relied upon for their discs being available in stores as well. There's still the minor obstacle of telling the old lady in the electronics section that I want the Windows version.
"The one in the window? Which platform?"
"No no no, I mean the WINDOWS version. The PC version."
"Oh like a computer? I don't think we have that."
"Could you check the back? It said online that you do."
It was then a 50/50 chance of whether or not she actually looked or if she just gave up when she saw the pile of boxes in the back room. I felt a little bad for her. I mean I was probably like the only person who ever shows up on release day looking for a PC copy. I'm surprised they even keep PC copies to be honest.
So the point of this entire post is not that I want developers to make smaller games (although that'd be nice... for me) but that I just wish developers would be more optimized. I mean what exactly in Call of Duty: Ghosts, for example, warrants that game being 40GB? Have you seen that damn thing? It looks exactly like every other Call of Duty game, and it's optimized shit poorly. Some people say "it's because the textures aren't compressed" but I'll tell you what, I'm not seeing much of an improvement over those uncompressed textures than the ones they had in their previous games. Then you get games like Titanfall, where there is literally 35GB of audio files which are mostly made up of the same versions in different languages. It's nice that they've localized for all sorts of languages, but dear lord, is there no way to maybe figure out what language the gamer will be playing in and maybe only including that language instead of every language at once? It's called optimization! I mean, this isn't just for me. A lot of people don't want a game taking up 35GB of unnecessary space on their hard drive either.
To some it's about hard drive space, to others it's about download time. Please, could you optimize your games? Pretty please? I just don't want next gen to be defined by the size of their rars. I kind of don't want to have to buy a laptop and drive to a google fiberhood looking for unsecured wifi every time a game I really want comes out, and I also don't want to clear out 20 last-gen games for every next-gen game that I download to my hard-drive.