• The Pros and Cons of Long Term Game Support

    With competent enough developers, there is only one real negative to long term game support, which is as follows.

    Graphics Fidelity Will Never Be Top Tier Years Later

    Years after the initial release, with all graphics improvements possible as shown by Arma 3 and Serious Sam Fusion 2017, the end result is that these games look fine by modern standards but not stellar. This is primarily because they use older environmental models still (on the initial release maps that is). No studio is going to replace all of their models, although modders can and have undertaken such endeavors (e.g. SMIM mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim).

    This is the only inherent downside. Realistically speaking, studios providing long term support won't redo all of their models to meet the latest top tier standards in fidelity. A tiny price to pay though for all of the benefits listed on the previous page. In fact, there is even a potential practical benefit from this downside. These somewhat outdated graphics are typically easier to run, letting you run most of the games we used as examples at extremely high frame rates (120+) on non-flagship single GPU systems. Not much of a benefit compared to a truly scalable, masterfully optimized modern game though, since such a game can do this on lower settings and possibly be cranked up to extreme levels of fidelity.

    Serious Sam Fusion 2017 looks fine, and art design is almost always more important than sheer fidelity, but its fidelity is obviously not top tier by 2017 standards.

    It is also worth mentioning that any studio looking to create a game and provide long term support for years to come should do so on a stable, scalable platform (engine). Arma 3 is a good example of this topic, since even with its engine upgrades it remains horribly CPU limited and the AI is very limited as well. Can they fix this with patches or a re-release? Personally, I doubt it.

    Another good example is Total War: WARHAMMER. Its sequel releases this year, and a DLC will merge it into the original game. But their engine is not ideal, it is also CPU limited even if not as badly as Arma 3 (despite the presence of a DX12 renderer). Both this and Arma 3 will always be impossible to run at ideal frame rates because they are too CPU limited, not using enough cores/threads. All the long term support in the world will not change this.

    This is not a problem if the initial game is built on a scalable engine. Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter and Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter for example are built on Serious Engine 3—an outdated engine by today's standards, but Serious Sam Fusion 2017 ports them (as well as Serious Sam 3: BFE which uses Serious Engine 3.5) to the latest and greatest version of Serious Engine. This engine is one of the better engines in the industry, being extremely scalable (can run on mid 2000s hardware and also take advantage of modern systems), is not very CPU limited (and this keeps improving), and supports some of the latest technologies like Vulkan API. It is one of only two games with a good Vulkan implementation (showing gains on all systems over DX11 in this case), the other being DOOM which is better than good.

    So again, the only inherent downside is that a game with such long term support will never lead the industry in graphical fidelity. Not a big deal. Art design will always remain the most important visual aspect anyway.

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Charcharo's Avatar
      Charcharo -
      If only more developers were like Croteam... and I think whilst hard, this isnt an impossible wish. Their pro-consumer and pro-gaming level is so high I think we should use them as the scale of comparison for all other games.
    1. Jester's Avatar
      Jester -
      It also helps that the publisher they work with, Devolver Digital, seems to be equally pro PC gaming.
    1. Charcharo's Avatar
      Charcharo -
      its a sad irony that they arent a larger publisher ...