Up For Debate - Which Publishers Provide the Best Post-Launch Support and Content?

Written by Jon Sutton on Sun, Sep 16, 2018 4:00 PM
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Now more than ever, deciding which game to play isn’t a short-term choice. Increasingly, AAA games aren’t being designed to be beaten and resold. They’re designed to hook us in for as long as humanly possible, feeding their long tails of constant updates with an even bigger stream of in-game purchases.

All of these games are competing for our finite time and limited budgets, so it’s become more important than ever not to back a dead horse. Go all-in on a multiplayer game that’s dead in a few months and you’re going to feel short-changed. Others can stretch on for years, amassing vast communities of players and constantly updated with expansions and other content.

When picking which game to play though, there is a bit of a science. Some publishers drop support at the merest hint of trouble, while others are prepared to dig in and dish out the updates, grabbing a game by the scruff of the neck and dragging it from failure to commercial success. For the former, look no further than Star Wars Battlefront 2. For the latter, take a peek at Rainbow Six Siege.

One publisher was prepared to stick by its game no matter what, delivering on their promises and rewarding the commitment of those who stuck by it through the years. EA on the hand, dropped a turd, tried to polish it for a few weeks, and have now pretty much abandoned its $60 Star Wars-licensed game entirely. I don't for a second put the blame on DICE for this one, it all comes down to EA's misguided decision-making from start to finish. When deciding where to spend your next $60, which publisher are you going to trust?

As a matter of interest, I decided to take a quick look at the biggest third-party publishers in the world to see how they compare to one another. It provides some insight into which publishers’ games have the longest lifespans, and which drop support as soon as they can sniff out another easy way to squeeze $60 out of its fanbase.

While there's a great deal of variance from game to game for each publisher, the chart does help to identify a few current trends. First and foremost, EA abandons nearly all of its games within two years, but usually just one. It doesn't matter whether they're critical of commercial successes, either they're dropped and abandoned or focus shifts immediately to a sequel. The only outlier here is The Sims, which EA is happy to support long-term with countless expansion packs.

A single step up from EA is Activision, although it's a close-run thing. Activision's gaming output is very limited these days. The Call of Duty games typically only receive nine months of map packs and then they're all about marketing their next Call of Duty title. Destiny is Activision's experiment with something different, although it's also prohibitively more expensive to keep playing than nearly every game on this list. Expansions for the first Destiny totaled hundreds of dollars for a couple of years of content and Destiny 2 is following the same pattern.

Sitting in the middle of the pack is Ubisoft, a publisher in a transitional period. Long-focused on single-player games and annualised franchises, Ubisoft is gradually shifting to Games as a Service (GaaS) and lots of post-launch support. Three of the games on this list are still actively supported, and most of its multiplayer games will get at least two years of support these days.

With the final two publishers, we enter a different echelon of commitment to the fanbases, the games, and the franchises though. Three of Valve's current franchises are still active (DOTA 2, CSGO, TF2), totaling 20 years of support between them. When Valve launches a game it will stick by it, probably because its games are hugely successful in the first place. 

Blizzard is even more consistent though, fostering a relatively small roster of core IPs that are improved and supported to the bitter end. No modern Blizzard game gets fewer than three years of support as a bare minimum, and the case of World of Warcraft it's an insane 14 years and counting. If you want your money to go a long way with a multiplayer game, Blizzard is the frontrunner.

What are your thoughts then, do you have particular publishers you avoid due to unreliable post-launch support? With so many games being supported for so long, how many do you actually get to play? Let us know your thoughts below!

Which publisher provides the best post-launch content?

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23:53 Sep-17-2018

What, no love for Paradox?

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17:58 Sep-18-2018

I love Paradox's games, but the problem is that they release 4x DLCs per year for 15$ each, with only one being worth 15$ and the other COMBINED being as much as a free patch update... that's just dumb... that's how it is for EU4 and HOI IV and to a lesser extend CK2 and to actually get the full experience you need them all or almost all, otherwise, their games are way, way worse and to get the entire EU4 package you have to pay 300+ euro... HOI IV is at 120-150 euro at this point and IDK about CK2 anymore... -_-

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20:33 Sep-17-2018

Digital Extremes, Grinding Gears Games and Larian Studios. The first 2 made a single f2p game and keep supporting it after years and years. Larian just released a major overhaul to an already excellent game for free.

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20:21 Sep-17-2018

I don't play it anymore, but Rockstar still pumps out GTA 5 DLCs now and then...

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19:05 Sep-17-2018

505 Games/Starbreeze Studios. Overkill's Payday 2, 5 years of support, even with all the micro transactions disaster that it provided, 2016 was a turning point for the game. Constantly improving difficulties and weapon synergies.

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06:11 Sep-17-2018

Creative Assembly - I'm a Total War Rome II fan and they still are release free content and DLC's after 5 years.

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18:27 Sep-17-2018

true

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02:24 Sep-17-2018

Digital Extreme - Warframe. For a free game to get such a long support & one of the best implementations of in-game currency is just too good to ignore. Warframe is also considered better than games by big publishers, like Destiny 2 by many

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01:41 Sep-17-2018

Idea Factory Intl. and the Neptunia franchise

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01:17 Sep-17-2018

Honestly there are so many. Facepunch Studios for Rust is pretty damn on the ball no matter what, they used to be every 2 weeks in early access. Even a simple free game like Governor of Poker 3 gets updates very often and it's sad that AAA games with minor bugs don't even get fixed. Siege gets a lot of support because it's huge but hackers still run rampant in that game, probably not like PUBG but it's still there. They all have their pros and cons. I think as a whole probably top gun is Nintendo, maybe even Sega with it's new releases.

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22:50 Sep-16-2018

Tripwire Interactive they keep their games living long after release with free updates

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20:51 Sep-16-2018

Riot Games for LoL?

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06:34 Sep-17-2018

meh, I don't think they have a choice - they mainly profit from microtransactions & popularity and if they don't dish out regular updates, they die off

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20:39 Sep-16-2018

The Creative Assembly, great support for games like total war: Rome II even after 5 years.

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20:11 Sep-16-2018

Names that suddenly popup in my mind when i heard this kind of questions.


-CDPR
-ArenaNet (Guild Wars 1/2)
-Digital Extremes (Warframe)
-Grinding Gear Games (Path of Exile)


Kinda cheese list but they do published themselves.

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19:48 Sep-16-2018

CDPR and Nintendo. Nuff said.

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20:19 Sep-16-2018

I cant think of a good example of Nintendo supporting anything past launch with new content.

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21:04 Sep-16-2018

Same xD .

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23:19 Sep-16-2018

They have on the Switch with Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2, and Super Mario Odyssey.

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00:30 Sep-17-2018

Oh and before I forget, Xenoblade Chronicles 2's post launch content has been solid.

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00:32 Sep-17-2018

I guess the real question is have any of those games received a lot of post launch updates with new content? I don't have a Switch and I just don't really enjoy Nintendo games, though I know they are great, so I wouldn't know. Just a quick search and I couldn't find any substantial post launch love for Breath of the Wild.

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01:04 Sep-17-2018

Keep in mind that the opinion I posted is mine and mine alone. But yes I personally think the post-launch support and content has been solid. Just because you can't find anything doesn't mean it isn't so.

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01:39 Sep-17-2018

I was genuinely asking. I fully realize that just because I couldn't find any doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Reading comprehension is a real thing you know. Now I have to say, if you can't provide some examples now then I am just going to assume their aren't any and you just like Nintendo.

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03:53 Sep-17-2018

Like I said, I was simply speaking from my own personal opinion. I speak only for myself. I won't bother looking for "examples" (whatever you mean by that). As for liking Nintendo, I won't deny that I do.

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04:00 Sep-17-2018

I will say this however, as much as I like the game and would recommend it despite the number of issues I see with it, I also encourage others to judge for themselves. If you can look past the 30fps lock and technical issues as described in my review blog then you should be able to tolerate the game. Again, I encourage that you judge for yourself rather if the game is worth playing.

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04:04 Sep-17-2018

Oh and there is one more developer I would like to mention for Post Launch support and content - Electronic Arts as far as The Sims franchise is concerned. (Insert heart symbol here)

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05:08 Sep-17-2018

Wow. You really made some leaps there. You said that Nintendo has good post launch support for their games. Three people have questioned that, including me outright asking for examples. You can't provide any examples of Nintendo providing any post launch support for their games. This isn't an opinion thing. Give one good example of Nintendo providing post launch support, please.

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05:16 Sep-17-2018

No, I won't read your review or play the game. I don't like Nintendo. That has nothing to with post launch support. Maybe you shouldn't claim Nintendo has good post launch support if you can't back it up. It's a bit like claiming you have a 12 inch USB dongle at a party and then declining to pull it out.

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06:19 Sep-17-2018

Now I know and accept it very well that Nintendo games are great, but their post launch support is abyssimal. All they do is remake of the consoles every 2-3 years. Nintendo is rather now proving ti be Apple of gaming industry in my opinion, compared to their image back in 90s, their target was to spread gaming.

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12:26 Sep-17-2018

RogueRequest, I feel as though I shouldn't have to defend my opinion in this case. That said I already mentioned 3 games. I think those are good enough examples.

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12:56 Sep-17-2018

As for your 12in USB dongle comment. I fail to see how that is related. That is making a claim, not stating an opinion.

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16:06 Sep-17-2018

I will just add that yeah, in a few cases, Nintendo can be fantastic. Splatoon 2 is second to none imo. Dozens of free content updates plus a paid single-player expansion. Their multiplayer stuff tends to get great support for at least a couple of years

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19:44 Sep-16-2018

Valve doesn't get the love they should get imo.
Everyone always complains about how there's no new content for cs for example, but as soon as someone describes a bug accurately and it's reproducable, they fix it in a matter of days - sometimes hours. And there are tons of very important changes that required a lot of work but barely get any love, like Vacnet.

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19:12 Sep-16-2018

I love Six Siege's post launch support.The game is great,sure has its flaws,but really the DLC business model(I've never paid for a season pass yet i own all the operators through hard work),heaps of new content and actually caring about the game with continuous support and patches really hooked me in.As for actual SP games,it has to be CDPR with The witcher 3,tons of free content and 2 actually meaningful expansions,well worth their price.

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18:54 Sep-16-2018

Devolver digital and Techland

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18:39 Sep-16-2018

In addition to all others already mentioned - here's a shoutout to Techland for Dying Light

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18:58 Sep-16-2018

I stopped playing Dying Light a few months after it came out, but I will give them props for their support of it. I've thought about buying it on PC and going back, but I keep forgetting or pushing it off. Maybe I should do that soon.

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18:13 Sep-16-2018

CDPR, hands down. Look at The Witcher 3. Tons of free DLC that wasn't cut content, it was created after launch. Hearts of Stone didn't start getting developed until after The Witcher 3 had already received some free love and care, and bug fixes. Blood and Wine wasn't released for more than a full year after the main game.

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18:15 Sep-16-2018

Games with multiples season passes, MTXs, and loot boxes shouldn't even get credit in this category no matter how good their support is or how long it lasts. It's in there best interest to keep up the support because if they don't their customers will stop spending exorbitant amounts on crap. If you're dropping money in a casino you're gonna get comped, but no one brags up casinos for doing it.

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18:34 Sep-16-2018

Witcher 3 dlc (blood & wine) wasn't created after launch.


https://youtu.be/1-l29HlKkXU


Blood & wine was in works before release of Witcher 3

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18:40 Sep-16-2018

I could have sworn that I've read that development didn't get under way for Blood and Wine until after Hearts of Stone has been released, even though they had a good idea of what they were doing before the main game released. I don't see any proof it any cinematic, except that the you actually meet that vampire in Blood and Wine.

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15:21 Sep-17-2018

You can see toussaint in the ending of cinematic.

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18:09 Sep-16-2018

CDPR

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18:08 Sep-16-2018

CDPR .

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