The following article is written by TGDM from TennoClockNews.com for our new series of monthly guest blogs!
Warframe is entering its fourth year of open beta testing coming this March. In that time, there have been over 150 updates to the game, over 500 hotfixes and a whole lot of new content introduced. After having been rejected by publishers and even reworking the original idea for Dark Sector into an entirely different game than they had planned, Digital Extremes found success with Warframe. The rapid updating cycle has often been described by the developers as the “lifeblood of the game” and has proven to be one of the pillars of Warframe’s success.
The closed beta began on October 25, 2012, and was a dramatically different experience from what Warframe would be when the open beta began on March 18, 2013. A dramatic series of changes to gameplay systems were made in response to the feedback provided by the beta testers. Learning quickly from what the community feedback offered, the changes ranged from improving the quality of life for gameplay to altering the initial shareware-style business model planned for the game.
Constantly pushing updates can be a taxing process and ultimately bugs start to pop up in areas you would least expect. As such, hotfixing became a necessity to address those bugs as quickly as possible. Almost every update and sub-update has been accompanied by multiple hotfixes to quickly squash bugs as they appear. There have only been three instances where there was not an update or hotfix within a period of two weeks:
- (Closed Beta) 44 days between Update 4 and Update 5. Update 5 introduced massive changes to the game and was the first true “update” when compared to the previous 4 which were more of hotfixes for small tweaks and bug fixing.
- (Open Beta) 15 days between Hotfix 13.9.1 and Hotfix 184.108.40.206. With Update 14 right around the corner, there was a small gap in the wave of hotfixes following Update 13.9.
- (Open Beta) 19 days between Hotfix 15.8.1 and Update 15.9. Operation: Eyes of Blight took place over the winter holidays at the end of 2014. Ultimately, issues with the scoring system led to the leaderboards being wiped in Hotfix 15.8.1. Unfortunately, additional exploits resulted in scrapping the leaderboards for rewards and instead offering all participants the same trophy.
The launch on the PlayStation 4 on November 15, 2013, added in a new complication: Digital Extremes did not have the same freedom to update and hotfix as rapidly as they wanted over Sony’s system. Likewise, when launching for the Xbox One, Digital Extremes took a more cautious approach to the certification process. Though consoles receive updates at a much calmer pace relative to the PC client, they usually benefit from the bugs squashed by PC players weeks or months in advance. The launch of Warframe China on May 7, 2015, introduced a new set of challenges as well, but Digital Extremes does not directly handle the regular updates for that particular version of the game.
Digital Extremes has somehow managed to maintain a breakneck pace for their updating schedule over the years and have only continued to up the ante in regards to what players can expect from the game. For example, here is some data on Warframe release dates:
- There has been a new Warframe released once every three months (approx. 72 days) on average, excluding Prime variants and closed beta. It was not until almost 100 days after the closed beta began that Frost and Nyx would be added in Update 6.
- The shortest gap between new Warframes was 8 days between Wukong and Ivara and then 13 days between Ivara and Nezha. More of a special case considering Wukong and Nezha were already available in Warframe China, the three Warframes punctuated the end of 2015.
- The longest gaps between new Warframes were: Inaros to Titania (168 days), Chroma to Equinox (134 days), and then Titania to Nidus (125 days). Update 14 would mark the first time a new Warframe was not added within 100 days.
- Update 8 was the only major branch update which did not introduce a new warframe. Technically, Update 19 did not either but Titania’s arrival in The Silver Grove was considered a part of the tetralogy that would become The War Within update.
- On average, including Prime variants, at least one new Warframe or weapon has been added to Warframe once every 14 days over the past four years.
As of the time of this article, there are still dozens of new content and features for Warframe currently in development and Digital Extremes has not shown any signs of slowing down just yet. Though the time between major branch updates has increased over the years, the amount of content packed into the sub-updates has grown tremendously with new content such as The Sands of Inaros, Specters of the Rail, and The Silver Grove in 2016. Below, you can look at how updates and hotfixes have rolled in over the years and just how many there have been so far.
Perhaps the key to Warframe’s success and Digital Extremes’ ability to maintain such a rapid updating schedule is the willingness the developers have to evolve the game and the passionate players who continue to adapt to the changes.
The data used in this article can be viewed here: Google Docs.
Please note, Digital Extremes is not responsible for maintaining external links or their content.
TGDM is the writer behind TennoClockNews.com who let a hobby get a bit out of hand. The website features weekly satirical articles which explore the things you love and hate about Warframe as well as a monthly editorial article which takes a more serious and deeper look at Warframe as a whole. There are also tools maintained on the website which track and provide sources for information on what is currently in development for Warframe as well as a few different logs which track the Void Trader’s wares, resource costs for equipment, and more.