CAUTION! Manufacturers Schemes Riling Players!
Are we still the players or simply just the played?
Whether you game online via Xbox Live (XBL), Playstation Network (PSN) or even the huge library of original and classic games from Nintendo’s Wii Shop Channel, you’ve been a part of the last decade’s gaming revolution, DLC (downloadable content). We all play games in some way or fashion and we all have our preferred genres. Whether you like the excitement of getting the last frag in an FPS or the thrill of an RPG that feels like an interactive novel. Doesn’t matter if you’re a hardcore or casual gamer we all play games at one point or another. Sadly, that game you really enjoy playing has to come to end sooner or later. Whether it be you lost interest through monotony, finished the story/campaign or just found a new game to hold your attention, all games meet their “demise”. This is where the magic of DLC comes in. DLC breathes life back into those old games by offering new content such as map packs, story add-ons, new characters etc.
Alas, this fairytale seems to be hitting a part of the plot that we don’t all particularly like. Much like inflation, the price for DLC has gone up and the content has seemingly gone down. For example, Call of Duty 3’s Bravo Map Pack sported 5 maps (3 new maps, 2 ported PC maps) for 800msp (Microsoft Points) and the Call of Duty Black Ops’ First Strike Pack had 5 maps (4 multiplayer and 1 zombie map) for 1,200msp. That’s a $10 and $15 respectively. Now granted the First Strike Pack included a game mode map, does it increase the value of the DLC or should it stay the same price? Does the graphical content play a role in the cost or is it just big business putting the squeeze on our pockets as the consumers?
In my Marvel vs. Capcom 3 review, I expressed how I felt duped by the DLC for two characters that were released as add ons. Now pay attention to the fact I said add “ONS”. When the game was released, special edition buyers were given a code for the two characters that were to be available the following month. The characters were released as separate content that both went for 400msp each. They also released a costume pack which was also 400msp. That raised the grand total for the game, including DLC, to roughly $74.99, not including tax. There are a few games like Naruto: Rise of Ninja, that give the option to preview these characters and download them for trial usage. To purchase or not to purchase, that is the question. Take the risk of paying for content you don’t like or won’t use? Or just go without and risk missing out on a real gem?
This DLC issue also shows itself with game modes. Games are being released with pre-determined schemes on how to stretch the longevity of sales by holding out on game content for later sale. Some may say that if the game was released with all the modes on it, it should cost more from the beginning. Is that really a fair statement? Were games developed that way in the past before DLC? Did Shigeru Miyamoto think to himself, “Eight worlds of Super Mario Bros. should have a price point of…”? If there were instead nine worlds, should the game have been $5 more expensive? Case in point, Fable II and Fable III had DLC, “See The Future” (Fable II, 560msp) and “Understone” (Fable III, 400msp). Pending how fast you played through them, they added an hour or two onto the game with a few added quests, items and maybe a few achievements (See The Future). They were both relatively cheap but still make you wonder if they could’ve been released with the game themselves or were they just a reselling ploy.
This issue could get better or worse in time, who knows. While I understand that several things are taken into account with DLC launches such as game sales, cost of development for content and even content worth; the companies are justified in their own right for these reasons but for us as consumers, are we taken into account. This issue started with games being released “incomplete” with patches or modes released at later dates (Resident Evil 5’s Co-op mode). Although I understand why a patch would come out later in most instances, shouldn’t a game mode that is announced for the game come on disc? Disagreements of value vs. price of DLC have lead buyers to question whether the content is worth it or not. More games now have in-game stores for character add-ons such as hair styles and outfits (Fable III) to character stats boosts (Fight Night Champion) that cost actual money anywhere from 80msp ($1) – 560msp ($7).
In closing, I understand the reasoning why and how some DLC is released. However, it doesn’t get any easier on the pockets of the faithful video game player. I understand why companies are releasing “online passcodes” to unlock online modes and bonus content in-box (Need for Speed Undercover, Fight Night Champion etc.). The developers and publishers are trying to make back what they are losing in resale (used games), piracy and the classic borrowing of games. Unless the games are purchased new, you will have to buy the online modes. However, you have to question, is DLC like Bare Knuckles mode (Fight Night Champion) really fair to be up for purchase? You fight bare knuckle fights in the story mode, should I have to shell out more money so I can play it in multiplayer locally and/or online? There is acceptable and then there is downright ridiculous. Are we being taken for a ride at the expense of our wallets and naivety? You be the judge.