From DLC to free-to-play: a brief history of everything you love to hate

By Brenna Hillier
19 March 2015 08:40 GMT

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Nobody has any objections to games releasing on their platform of choice – but everyone objects to the game they get being not as good as the game someone else got. When a game is “ported”, it means it has been developed for one platform and then adapted for another – and regardless of how this works out, the fact that a game was not developed specifically for a particular platform gives some gamers the heebie-jeebies.

Sometimes they’re justified. The differing architecture between platforms can sometimes mean it’s very difficult for developers to make a game work well on more than one of them. Back at the beginning of the PS3 and Xbox 360 era, there were few middleware tools for the PS3, and its highly unusual architecture meant many games were developed with Xbox 360 in mind and then ported to PS3 – poorly.

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The PS3 isn’t the only culprit, of course. Although it’s easier to work with than the PS3 in this regard, the Xbox 360 doesn’t have as much in common with a PC as the PS4 and Xbox One does. Since by the end of the generation there were loads of middleware tools developed for PS3 and Xbox 360 alike (to avoid the problems described in the paragraph above), it was easier for developers to make a game for console and then port it to PC. Lazy PC ports, with improper keyboard and mouse support (to name just one possible disaster), are unfortunately more common than we’d like – and fail to take advantage of the PC’s potential for more powerful hardware with additional graphics options and customisation.

Cross-platform development is generally good for everyone, and the backlash against Square Enix for granting Microsoft a timed exclusive on Rise of the Tomb Raider just goes to show how unpopular the alternative is.

Porting isn’t a bad thing, necessarily; not every platform can be lead. Bad ports, on the other hand? Not only worth a bit of disgruntlement, but guilty of tarring the whole cross-platform movement with its filthy brush. Let’s not have any more of it.

These accounts are by their nature brief, and this list is incomplete; loathing is a subjective thing, and changes over time. A few years ago “multiplayer” might have been one of the inclusions! Let us know your own pet hates.

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