Where Call of Duty: Black Ops patches come from

Ever wonder where patches come from? Treyarch community manager Josh Olin has recently explained how feedback, reports, and complaints from players make it into the next game update for Call of Duty: Black Ops. According to Olin, it takes about a “full month” to complete an update cycle. However, since Treyarch is often working on multiple game updates, you often see updates appear in less than a month.

You can read Olin’s detailed description of the patching process below:

Phase 1: Gather feedback, reproduce reports and implement solutions.
- As soon as the game is released, we scour the forums and play online with fans to gather feedback.
- The QA team reproduces all feedback reports in a test environment, enters them into our database, and assigns them to dev team members.
- Like any scientific process, reports must be reproduced in the test lab before they can be addressed. With millions of users playing the game, something reported by only a small number of users may not be easily reproducible. For this, it’s important that all reports in the forums provide as much helpful information as they can.
- Estimated time: Generally 2 weeks to build a comprehensive list, reproduce in the test environment, research cause, and implement solutions. This phase is typically the longest part of the process and can easily take more than 2 weeks, depending on the number and complexity of reports. Once a game is released, every change made is high risk, and adequate time is needed to implement the best possible solution.

Phase 2: Test internally.
- Once the highest priority reports have been resolved, the updated game goes through a rigorous internal testing procedure.
- If new issues are discovered or the original issue is not fixed appropriately, more time is needed to research and implement new solutions. Video games are highly complex pieces of software. Every change made has a potential impact somewhere else in the game, so the entire game has to be tested with each update.
- Estimated time: Minimum of 1 week to thoroughly test the entire game and internally approve the update for release.

Phase 3: Console manufacturers test and approve the update for release.
- As soon as our QA team has approved the update internally, it is then submitted to the console manufacturers for their own testing and approval. At this point, it is out of our hands.
- If the game update is approved by the console manufacturers, the cycle is done and the update is prepped for release. If the game update is rejected, an accelerated version of the entire process starts again.
- Estimated time: Minimum of 1 week to get an approval.
- Note: PC patches do not require manufacturer approvals, but because of the high number of variables in computer hardware and OS configurations, both Phase 1 and Phase 2 require additional time that does not exist on consoles which have standardized hardware. The PC patch development cycle takes about the same amount of time start-to-finish as that of consoles.

Phase 4: Release
- Once the game update is approved by both internal QA and the console manufacturers, it gets prepped for release. This is a very short phase, but it can add time to the process depending on a number of variables.
- Estimated time: Generally 2-3 days.

[Source: COD: Black Ops forum]

Dec 1, 2010


  • WinkedUp Lozza - December 4, 2010 3:17 a.m.

    I've made games using different methods before, and finding all the bugs in the game before release is HIGHLY unlikely with just myself as player: when there's millions of users, the chance of finding all bugs goes up drastically. That's why they don't care too much on shipping the game out on time. One major problem with these bugs in CoDBO and others is that if a user doesn't have a net connection, the bugs remain - that's not too great... Finally, Treyarch aren't as good as IW at making online fast with little lag: with MW2, my lag was minimal (unnoticable), whereas BO is around .5 to 1 second of lag
  • litaljohn - December 2, 2010 12:09 a.m.

    ninja, do you really think the guy explaining the process is the lone person working on patches? or that he in fact has any involvement in fixing it? he is a COMMUNITY MANAGER, aka his real job is essentially what he just did, speaking to the community. It is terribly broken though, those millions of players online that don't have all these massive problems that make it unplayable must just not realize
  • Derwood - December 2, 2010 12:07 a.m.

    well said, Crabhand. Still, it is slightly infuriating that these games seem to be rushed out the door and onto retail shelves, into gamer's consoles with bugs. its almost as if the developers know that they can half-ass it and fix it later. shameful.
  • Crabhand - December 1, 2010 9:40 p.m.

    @KielbasaNinja You would be surprised at how often people BITCH AND FUCKING MOAN about the length of time required for a patch because they don't understand the process. Trying to facilitate understanding of the process gives people a little more perspective on what to expect.
  • KielbasaNinja - December 1, 2010 8:51 p.m.

    It'd be great if they spent less time explaining the patching process and focused it more toward actually fixing their broken-ass game.
  • sveini22 - December 1, 2010 8:21 p.m.

    Sy87: yes i think that i what they are trying to tell you.
  • Zummertime - December 1, 2010 7:56 p.m.

    Oh? I always thought they just pulled them out of their ass when you look at the quality of it
  • Sy87 - December 1, 2010 7:52 p.m.

    So wait they're saying that they are fixing glitches in the game. That were in the game when they shipped it full of bugs.
  • musashi1596 - December 1, 2010 7:45 p.m.

    So, about that UFO glitch that Infinity Ward patched in about four days...
  • twinkletitsMcGee - December 1, 2010 7:41 p.m.

    I hate all the noobs that write first so FIRST! really interesting though

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