So, would it not make sense for developers to charge less for the game on release, knowing that there will be patches and fixes required, and slowly (or abruptly) increase the price of the game based on it's stability after a month or two?
I think I like where this train of thought leads, Judge, but wouldn't the publisher kinda be selling short, so to speak? Hertston's invocation of Stardock's approach makes good sense, as well. I think we all are willing to pony up for a good, finished product. Are we willing to wait for it? Are game companies willing to hold off on selling games until they really are finished? I dunno. Maybe I'm just squirting in the wind, but I'm keepin' my money in my pocket, anyway.
Look, I want these companies to make money - the more the better. That way, maybe they'll krrp bringing new games our way that we'll enjoy. I have just gotten tired of buying freezeups, CTDs, and other terminal nastiness.
More grist for the mill: I think there's a difference between what is necessary to make the game stable and playable and what is added in order to make it better. The first should be minimized before release, and the second should be confined to a few big add-ons that ought to be as thoroughly tested as the original game itself. I realize that the line between the two is hardly sharp and clear.
Now, I will stick my foot into some stinkier doo-doo. I think that game design is negaatively affected, and the end product worsened, by going in with the idea that modding is part and parcel of what's being created (yes, I confess that I mod, too). I would prefer that the designers/developers confine themselves to getting the thing competently built and tested first, then think about the modding aspect later. When you are thinking, "This game dynamic, instead of working exactly this way as I am designing it, must be open-ended and alterable by the user," I think you are going to make bad decisions that will cause your game to be less than what it could have been, and possibly defective, to boot. Saying that, I fully realize that modding has become the 400-pound gorilla these days.
These are my impressions based on the years I have spent buying, playing, fiddling with, testing, documenting, and discussing these games and studying the business that creates them. Your experience may vary. Do not try this at home. Continued exposure may lead to children born with the head of a golden retriever or the condition known as "hot dog fingers." Women who are nursing should not use this product. If you experience nausea, vomiting, or itchy genitalia, notify your doctor.
Put my faith in the people
And the people let me down.
So, I turned the other way,
And I carry on anyhow.