Patching is a trend that is becoming more and more prevalent. Is it for better or worse? No one is really sure. I personally don't like it. To me all it shows is that developers are just getting lazier and lazier! They think they can just release a partially complete game and patch it later. This I find is unacceptable.
Let's take a recently released game, eXtreme Paintbrawl. This game was released, with NO enemy AI, NO Multi Player, (even though the menu on it said it did) and various other FATAL flaws. This piece of garbage shouldn't have been released let alone patched! When developers think they can release shoddy products like this, and just patch it later, something is wrong. Even great games such as Quake2 have this problem. For example, some patches when installed incorrectly can totally mess u your whole game file!
I installed the 3.25 patch for quake2, and it continued to do some kind number on the initialization files and forced me to reinstall the game! No big deal, but, an inconvenience. I person ally, would wait an extra month or however long it takes to include the FULL version of a game when you buy the FULL version of the game. If I want a shareware version of a game, I'll download it!
I don't mind the occasional patch when it gives you a new skin or maps, but then, at least include a smooth and easy interface for it. In Half-Life, updating is incredibly easy! Simply click on update, and voila! You're on your way! Merely follow the instructions and it installs by itself! There's no searching for the patch, making sure it's the correct file, finding the fastest server, and then risking losing it all with a corrupt file or incorrect install.
Maybe its time for developers to start realizing that the gaming public would prefer a full game than to play a patchwork monster. But hey, that's just my opinion.