Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Shut Up And Take My Money! - DLC in Gaming

Hi Everybody!

It's a bit of a hot topic right now, and with current Mario Kart 8 and Destiny DLC packs either landing or soon to land, I thought it would be fun to discuss why DLC has so many people angry and so many people draining their pocketbooks.

I'd like to point out right at the beginning that I'm not someone who has a particular problem with DLC. Here's the thing: I don't buy it that often. And when I do, it's usually because I feel like I've played the base game enough that it warrants spending extra money to show my appreciation. Almost more as a kind of donation type thing, and oh by the way I get some extra content out of it.

Just like getting that NPR mug [2]

But in general, I don't buy it. Now, some people might contend that I'm missing out on a valuable part of the game if I do that. Or that the game was artificially shortened so they could charge more for the good ending, or what not (*cough* Mass Effect 3 *cough*). But to those people I'd point out that retail games vary wildly in length and content already. A game costing $50 could be 6 hours of fun gameplay or 600 hours of fun gameplay, and it's entirely possible that the 6 hour game packed as much in as they could and the 600 hour one might have cut stuff to release later as DLC.

The DLC's existence, or lack thereof, should not inform your decision to buy the base game. You should look at what the base game has to offer and buy it based on that. And you should do the same, in a separate thought, about buying DLC. If you want to pay $20 for some extra skins and some extra levels, then do so. If you don't think it's worth it, stick to the main game that you already paid for.

A very good example of some pretty upset people was for Day One DLC for Mass Effects 2 & 3, where characters were available for purchase as soon as the game launched. "Why isn't it just part of the game if it's already there?" "Why should I pay extra for what seems like base game content?" "Why can't I find my pants?" All great questions, but let's face it: if they hadn't shown you the characters, then you would have been perfectly happy with the set you had. And yes, if they worked on them, then they obviously spent less time working on something else. But those games have a whole lot of content and a bunch of extras, so it's not like BioWare was skimping on the fun factor.

Pictured: a zombie human, a neglected cybernetically enhanced daughter, and a terminally ill green alien. Fun factor!

And what gets to me is that people seemed like they would have been happier if it came out months later. I mean, as a hypothetical, assume they were supposed to be ready 6 months from the release, but some programmer stayed up all night fueled by Mountain Dew and loneliness for several days straight to get them out so you could get the DLC early. Why is it a problem that the DLC came out right away? They already decided how much the base game was worth, and that character wasn't a part of that value package.

Now, I realize that the obvious solution of not buying the game if you're unhappy with the pricing is rather far-fetched (because if you want to play it that badly, you'll pay what it costs), but that's true whether or not that DLC is available. Any game, no matter how big or small, is a certain price for a certain amount of stuff. It may go down later, so if you don't need it on release day then you can probably save some money, but in general you're a slave to the gamemaker's whims. And like it or not, restaurants, movies, grocery stores, and pretty much everywhere except car dealerships and home sales are the same way. You pay what they make you pay, it's up to you to decide if it's worth it.

And in the end of the day, it's like adding a side salad to your steak. If it's available, why isn't it included in the price? You mean I have to pay extra for extra food? But you already spent the time to make a big batch of salad, why isn't it just paired with the steak to begin with?


That's why.

Until next time,


Images courtesy of Wikipedia except where sourced
[1] http://genophoria.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/shut-up-and-take-my-money.jpg
[2] https://bloomerang.co/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/NPR-Mug.jpg

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