In the process of writing this column, my blog, my webcomic, and my video series, I get to hear from a lot of really interesting people from a lot of different areas of gaming. Kids. Senior citizens. Casual players. Developers. Journalists. Fans. Critics. PC players. Console players. Handheld players. Tabletop players. I love hearing from people. I love discovering new folks and I enjoy finding new ideas and new ways of thinking about games that I've never encountered before. It's a great reminder that videogames are like Disney World - nobody, nobody can know the whole thing. The best you can do is to pick a spot that interests you and explore it as far as you can.
The only group I don't like hearing from are the aggrieved idiots. Now, rude, narrow-minded, self-important people aren't usually very creative and so I'm rarely surprised by what idiots have to say. If I hate on a game, I know I'll have three idiots to deal with: The one who insults me because I didn't like the game, one who insults me because I didn't hate the game enough, and one who insults me because I hated the game for the wrong reasons. I know, boo hoo. That's life on the internet. We all have to deal with this sort of thing now and again. Nothing to be done about it. But this week I discovered a new and astoundingly virulent strain of idiocy and so I thought I'd share.
Portal 2 is out and the game has DLC that you can buy. If you like, you can go to the Valve store and buy little clothing items for your character. To be honest, you might never notice this DLC. You can play through the single-player game and get the full experience and you'll never see a single sales pitch. There will be no holes in the game, no missing characters, no locked levels. It's all there. It's all good. If you like, you can play multiplayer, where you have the option to buy little bits and pieces for your avatar. Nothing fancy. Nothing that affects the game. It's all cosmetic.
Idiots - and there really is no other way to refer to these people - stormed onto Metacritic on launch day and review-bombed Portal 2 with a bunch of zero scores, thus lowering the ranking of the game. The reason? Let me quote one of them:
"Pay for gestures, pay for hats, pay for a 1 **** day DLC and pay for 4 **** hours of gameplay. It isn't a bad game but i don't wanna pay for things that I ACTUALLY PAYED FOR. And yes, i liked valve until this game but this is just pathetic. You lost all that users that trusted you valve, all of them."
(For the record: Note how this person claims the game is four hours long. I played through the game and it took me about eight real-world hours. Now, maybe if you're some kind of super-genius you might be able to knock that down to five. Feel free to read that comment again and reflect on whether or not you think the author is that smart.)
Reviews like this one go on for page after page, a parade of cognitively crippled imbeciles proudly strutting their ignorance for all to see. To these idiots, I'd like to pose a question:
Where the hell have you been for the last three years?
I've been talking about the downside of DLC for a while now, and I don't remember you guys showing up to review-bomb anyone back then. Let's talk about what DLC should not do:
1. DLC should not change the balance of a game.
We do not want a grim future where player-versus-player is decided by who is willing to spend the most real-world money on weapons. I'm sure publishers wouldn't mind acting as virtual arms dealers, gradually releasing increasingly more powerful weapons to an online game and forcing players to pony up if they want to remain competitive.
We also don't want developers to balance games based on DLC goodies. When they die in-game, players shouldn't feel like they're being punished for not buying more powerful items at the online store.