Auto-update is a wonderful feature for content management systems. Steam will update my games while I am not paying attention. Several other producers have similar updaters. These are great. If I need to plan ahead or budget time, I am less likely to play. PC games will benefit to the extent that they resemble console games: push the button and it works.
An absolutely necessary feature is that the game can update itself without my babysitting it. Give me an “Update now?” button and otherwise leave me alone. If I need to manually re-start the program several times, I am going to get bored and wander off half-way through; that other company over there has games that work when I click them, and I only have so much time to wait today.
The worst version of this comes from games that update patches successively, instead of automatically bringing you to the latest edition. As they say on the internet, FAIL. Update, apply, update, apply, update, apply… This can be acceptable if it is one-click, so I can let it run when I go to bed. This will not be acceptable if it goes through a lengthy version of that when I want to play.
The worst offender I have seen is a game still in beta. I appreciate that they have frequent updates, but it updates one patch at a time, and each needs me to click, “Yes, download”; “Yes, install”; “Yes, finish.” It might also ask me to manually re-start the game after each “finish,” but I don’t remember because I stopped thinking about those clicks one day when I tried to get through about 10 patches. I have spent far more time downloading and updating that game than playing, and if just getting the game on my computer is that tedious, my hopes for the game itself are low. I understand that different guys program different things, so one system does not reflect another, but if your game is already not fun before I even play, that is a bad sign in the same way that a lousy, non-skippable tutorial is.