Is Dead Rising 3 setting a dangerous precedent here?

New character: It's mechanic Nick Ramos' turn to take on the zombie hordes.

Dead Rising 3: Can you really call a 13Gb download an update?

Dead Rising 3 is a probably one of the best games out for the Xbox One at the moment, and it’s a genuinely fun game, but the announcement by developer Capcom of a 13GB patch recently could set a dangerous precedent, especially in countries – New Zealand included – where internet data caps are still in force.

It seems that the update was designed to prepare the game for the first lot of DLC (downloadable content) , Operation Broken Eagle, and tweak with the final version of the game, but first things first: How can 13GB be called an update? It’s almost an entire game!!

And what’s with publishers not wanting to call them patches anymore? I guess patch implies that the developer is fixing something that is broken but at 13GB in size, this isn’t just a small bandaid: It’s a full on plaster cast, so it’s clearly fixing some major issues.

But has the update actually improved game play?

Over at Eurogamer, there’s an interesting critique on whether the update improves anything and it seems that it doesn’t actually provide a smoother game play experience from the original.

So have Capcom replaced complete parts of the game using the update, I’m not sure, but I wonder whether the 13GB contains both updated content that needed fixing as well as the DLC, so that it’s a quick unlock when people actually buy it. I hope this isn’t the case and Capcom isn’t forcing people to download content that they may or may not eventually want to buy. If that is the case, I’ll have to seriously consider whether I want to play another Capcom game again.

More of a concern, though, is now that we’re in a new generation of games consoles, how many more publishers are going to start releasing patches/updates of this size? Is this going to become the norm in the new generation of games consoles?

If it’s going to become the norm rather than the exception, then how many gamers will be reluctant – or unwilling – to update their games because the update will push them perilously close to their monthly ISP data cap?

Despite the advent of “all you can eat” and “unlimited” internet plans and society being in a golden age of technology, the reality is that many people in some countries are still on monthly plans with data caps. And if they want the large data plans, they’ll pay through the nose for it.

I’m on an unlimited fibre plan with a New Zealand ISP, offering download speeds of unto 100Mbps and upload speeds of 50Mbps. It costs $134 a month, I think.  The beauty of an unlimited plan means that I can – and do – download a lot of games from Steam and watch a lot of movies using Apple TV, but frankly, $134 a month is a lot of money for internet when you have other bills and expenses (once we’re back in our house after it’s been repaired for damaged caused in the February 2011 earthquake I’m going to downgrade my fibre plan). It’s easy to see why people go for more affordable internet plans, many of them hampered by a less than fantastic monthly data limit.

This is 2014, so I’m sure that savvy gamers have wrangled data plans that give them enough data to satisfy their needs but not everyone has the money to pay for unlimited or 200Gb of data a month, so patches the size of 13GB are going to cause serious problems for some Xbox One owners. If you’ve got a monthly limit of 20GB, then that’s more than half your allowance for the month gone in one download.

I’m really hoping that updates of this size are the exception rather than the norm – and that Capcom isn’t lumbering Dead Rising 3 players with DLC that they may not want to own – but the existence of data caps from many ISPs around the world still shows that the world isn’t ready for a digital-only game distribution system yet.

It’ll happen – eventually – but it’ll take a while to get there.