Going Gold: To Your Heart's (Downloadable) Content

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Mind you, thinking about it, it's interesting how Nintendo have responded to the same issue as Microsoft and Sony. The latter have decided to wring customers for all they're worth to keep margins up and/or make ends meet. Nintendo have just decided to find more customers. It's an interesting answer to the problem which definitely deserves discussion alongside the DLC debacle.

It doesn't really bother me unless they completely decide to screw the consumer over, for example Campcom held all of the alternate costumes in SF4, so you had to pay for content that was alrady on the disc AND was intended to be part of the original game.

I'd support DLC if the actual DLC didn't suck so much

I can think of maybe three examples of DLC that's actually worth the money

Another time when DLC is retarded is when you buy a game, like, say, Mass Effect on 360. $109.95 AUD at launch. Fantastic. 6 months later - PC version comes out, $89.95 AUD at launch, comes will all the DLC to date for free.

What the fuck: I get punished by you, publisher, for being an early adopter and giving you more of my money.

Granted, it's abated slightly with Project Ten Dollar or whatever EA's ridiculous "spam them with DLC to stop used games" plan was, but it's still a frustrating, enraging trend. Assassin's Creed 2 did it, too, with its PC release.

John Funk:

Therumancer:
My opinion is simply that the game industry is getting greedier and the price of developing games is increasing mostly due to greed more than anything, with employees demanding bigger and bigger fees and paydays, along with a lot of perks. There have been numerous articles over the years by both developers and publishers explaining how the industry works to one degree or another, which makes things fairly transparent if you happen to follow it enough.

The days of the Ion Storm "rockstar developer" are over, and have been for decades.

Really? Because honestly the fight between Itigaki and "Team Ninja" was not that long ago. On top of this "The Escapist" just ran an article about a game studio requesting tax breaks under the arguement that they would be creating a lot of highly paid jobs that would be more or less permanant, with a stated yearly salary of $85,000.

Now granted $85,000 isn't exactly the "Rock Star" lifestyle, I admit that mostly your looking at the heads of design teams that are going to be expecting to walk away with tens of millions hanging out of their back pocket. However when your dealing with long-term coders, artists, etc... getting that kind of money it's no surpise that the prices of games are skyrocketing. That's pretty ridiculous when you think about it. The ironic thing is that I've been back and forth with people about this a few times, who insist game developers are not making that much money. Yet nobody has been able to explain where those tens or hundreds of millions of dollars is going. That pay scale is awfully close to what I came up with based on dividing up some of the budgets for game development vs. the team in question.

I don't begrudge anyone making a living, nor am I saying that these guys should be doing this as a public service and not making any profits. I do however believe that you have a lot of people demanding lavish amounts of money and then passing the price onto consumers like me, while at the same time screaming "oh we have all this money, but are actually living on these pathetic wages... pity us".

My point is that the only reason these huge sums of money get spent are due to greed, pure and simple. The corperate mentality has affected more than the process through which games are designed, but has lead to a "let's bleed every drop out of the consumer base that they can stand, and then gouge for more" attitude, all to support very high salaries, and ridiculous "rock star" pay days for the people at the top of the food chain.

What to do about it is of course another arguement entirely. I mean the reason why things have gotten this far is because gamers as a group do not tend to rally well. Boycotts are an empty threat that usually just generates spam. Internet petitions are powerless because even if you get ridiculous numbers of signatures most of those people are going to buy the game in question anyway while they whine. This of course leads to the gaming industry just plugging their ears, while they continue demanding more money for themselves, and finding more and more ways to gouge the customer to generate it.

Agree or disagree, I call it like I happen to see it. I mean honestly, $60 is a decent chunk of change for anything (and I admit, I spend it more frequently than I should), but despite that expensive price tag the game industry is still trying to find ways to get more money out of customers who are already dropping a substantial amount of money. The gouging is justified by "we need to do this, because of the rising cost of game development" but in reality the cost of game development what is people in the industry are being paid. So basically that's simply them saying "we need to do this so we can pay ourselves ever increasing amounts of money". Or simply "we're greedy, your semi-addicted money bags with legs, fork over the dough and shut up".

The thing is that

Therumancer:
Now granted $85,000 isn't exactly the "Rock Star" lifestyle, I admit that mostly your looking at the heads of design teams that are going to be expecting to walk away with tens of millions hanging out of their back pocket.

$85,000/pa for a university/college graduate, highly experienced, very difficult job is not highway robbery, dude. It's not like it's designers who walk away with millions of dollars in their pockets. It's publishers. People like Kotick, who made something obscene like $30M USD on the MW2 launch day. He shouldn't be pushing so hard for profitability when he already has so much money, imo. But to call developers greedy is pushing it, I reckon, mate.

Lay the blame where it's deserved: at the feet of publishers. They're the companies full of people who entered into the industry to make money, not out of passion like so many developers.

That is of course a generalisation - there are exceptions on both sides. But you don't see people employed by publishers for their modding skills, do you?

Therumancer:
[...] despite [the] expensive price tag [of games,] the game industry is still trying to find ways to get more money out of customers who are already dropping a substantial amount of money.

The idea is that DLC becomes prevalent once you get past the death of the AAA title. Go read Jordan's On the Ball for this week. The problem is that as we are now, we have both the expensive games and the supplementary costs. The goal is to drop the expensive games, and exist only on the supplementary costs. That way, costs fall, and revenue is appropriate.

Fenixius:

Therumancer:
Now granted $85,000 isn't exactly the "Rock Star" lifestyle, I admit that mostly your looking at the heads of design teams that are going to be expecting to walk away with tens of millions hanging out of their back pocket.

$85,000/pa for a university/college graduate, highly experienced, very difficult job is not highway robbery, dude. It's not like it's designers who walk away with millions of dollars in their pockets. It's publishers. People like Kotick, who made something obscene like $30M USD on the MW2 launch day. He shouldn't be pushing so hard for profitability when he already has so much money, imo. But to call developers greedy is pushing it, I reckon, mate.

Lay the blame where it's deserved: at the feet of publishers. They're the companies full of people who entered into the industry to make money, not out of passion like so many developers.

That is of course a generalisation - there are exceptions on both sides. But you don't see people employed by publishers for their modding skills, do you?

-

College degrees are a dime a dozen right now. The only thing that matters about a college degree is when you don't have one. There is also massive glut of people with computer skills out there who can't find work. I've been aquainted with quite a few, and indeed back when I was in college it was suggested to people that they *DIDN'T* go into what was an overfilled field. Sure you'll see people who want money to teach computer skills acting like they are
in massive demand, but that's not really the truth. Those people are needed, but there are also so many of them out there that businesses can pick and choose.

Plus in general what your looking at are graphic artists and code monkeys. Guys who are going to sit around making pictures/animations with fancy softeware, or banging out and testing line code in a cubicle or PC farm.

To put things into perspective I was criminal justice in college, had some decent training besides that, and while I made okay money, I wasn't making $85k and while I never got into any real trouble working for the casinos there was always the possibility that I was going to get shot, or have the stuffing beaten out of me if something went horribly wrong. Not to mention the whole "you exist to hold up a uniform, and take the blame for what goes wrong" aspect of the job, which means your scene dressing until something goes wrong when you have to actually do our job, at which point you get fired and if you don't cover your butt well might even face legal problems. I did not make $85,000 a year. I worked for two of the three biggest resort/casinos in the world at differant times.

Normally I wouldn't give a crap about how much they were making, if the product wasn't so expensive. Heck, I probably wouldn't even care then if it wasn't for the constant stream of gimmicks being used to try and get me (and other gamers) to shell out even more money, because these guys are apparently not happy with merely making 85k a year.

Even if you say it's not the coders making ridiculous amounts of money, it's going somewhere. It goes into the pocket of that development team... period. Where doesn't really matter all that much. On top of all that, these guys want tax breaks so they can have even more money in their pockets?

As I said, there are ways I can see it being justified, but now how this guy did, and right now I don't see the gaming industry as being something that I feel needs a free hand here. Heck, even if it is a couple of people at the top getting all that money, while the coders fight over scraps of bread in the gutters, it still means that the money from the tax breaks goes directly into their pockets. Who benefits is beside the point, it's being done for profit, not because of any legitimate need. I don't think anyone can argue with a straight face that the game industry is the equivilent of the starving painters, sculptors, poets, and writers that tax exceptions were invented for. Heck, nowadays I'd argue Hollywood wouldn't inspire me to defend a tax break for them, but arguably the tax breaks they use can probably trace their origins back to poor bands of players travelling accross the country in wagons, and theaters constantly wrestling with the threat of foreclosure even without the burden of taxes.

With no offense to Valve specifically, I'd personally find it funny if Gabe Newell was to become the spokesperson for game developers as starving artists. :)

Therumancer:
[...] despite [the] expensive price tag [of games,] the game industry is still trying to find ways to get more money out of customers who are already dropping a substantial amount of money.

The idea is that DLC becomes prevalent once you get past the death of the AAA title. Go read Jordan's On the Ball for this week. The problem is that as we are now, we have both the expensive games and the supplementary costs. The goal is to drop the expensive games, and exist only on the supplementary costs. That way, costs fall, and revenue is appropriate.

... and of course the end product blows chips, and probably winds up costing more money while delivering less. Not to mention that piecemeal development will inevitably lead to tons of unfinished products leaving people hanging.

I understand the logic though, getting past everything it's the same basic logic that "free to play MMORPGs" use. The idea is that by putting everything into a cash shop where people spend a couple of bucks at a time, they lose track of what they are spending to keep up with others and pla the game (when it works right). Instead of charging a $15 a month membership, a much cheaper game might get twice that from players who want to play seriously, one exps scroll or buyable feature at a time.

I think where it's going is that they will spend just as much on development, and also do side DLC (they won't stop that, as long as people buy it). Instead they will say divide the game into four parts which cost $20 apiece. That way instead of paying $60 for the whole thing, you pay $80, but they can claim that technically you could save money and pay less than $60 if you don't care about ever finishing the game. It's been mentioned before that the industry has been drooling over when it can institute it's next coordinated price hike, this would be a way of getting people to pay for the price hike while saying it's somethinh else.

Sort of like how when I was working and they would call people in yearly for the "enhancements" to our employee benefits. These universally meant the company was either cutting things, or expecting us to pay for more out of our wages/salary to maintain what we had before. However by calling it "enhancements" as opposed to honestly saying what it's all about they could try and pretend it was something positive.... and of course you'd have people being "written up" and disaplined for not showing proper company spirit and using the right terminology at times. Trust me, I used to be one of the guys who walked terminated employees out after they failed to express appropriate company spirit one too many times around the wrong people. :P

StriderShinryu:
While I'm in agreement that the on disc "DLC" really has nothing to do with the main point of the article, I do believe the main point of the article is spot on. Two things covered in the column are things that I really don't understand why gamers don't get.

First, Day 1 DLC is not evil and is not necessarily something sliced out of the completed game just so it could be sold on the side. Yes, this does happen sometimes but by and large it's not the case.

Second, games need multiple revenue streams just like music, TV and movies do. An entertainment industry as expensive as the game industry just can't survive on it's profits coming solely from a month after product release... unless you like the idea of paying, say, $300 for a new game. DLC isn't the only way to do this (for example, Valve have proven that a solid policy of periodically lowering the sticker price after launch can massively re-energize sales), but it's one way and it can work.

But it is in 70% of the case. Sure some of that DLC might not "get done" on time, still doesn't mean they have to want more money for it, but often it's just cold calculation e.g. "we leave this out, they give us more money". It's like making a theme park ride and stopping halfway through at some platform that wants you to pay some more so you can experience the rest. It doesn't mean it's not done... it often just means they found another business concept and want moar money.

Just take the "natural expansion" to that strategy EA just announced... their "PDLC" content, which is basically long game demos people are supposed to be paying for before the game is done and should supposedly not be included in the "full game". Does that mean it isn't done before the game goes gold? No it doesn't... it just means they want to tap another revenue stream for the idiots that seemingly like to pay 5x for a single game (which often isn't that long anymore anyway... more around 6-12 hours on average).

Or yet another example... compare this business practice with Telltale Games: http://www.telltalegames.com/ , which are all about episodic content, do they charge increasingly high price points for them over and over again? No, not really. If you buy an episode and decide to buy the whole "Season" you just pay less on that because they discount you the price. If you buy the whole season it doesn't cost 20$ per episode to a total of 100$ or whatever EA would do but comes to a pricepoint of between 35-50$ total. And on top of that they send you the DVD with all the games for free after the season is done.
Are they retarded? No, not really they just care about the customer and their reputation a lot more than EA or Activision does, and they're still making tons of money.

Therumancer:
Even if you say it's not the coders making ridiculous amounts of money, it's going somewhere. It goes into the pocket of that development team... period. Where doesn't really matter all that much. On top of all that, these guys want tax breaks so they can have even more money in their pockets?

[...] Heck, even if it is a couple of people at the top getting all that money, while the coders fight over scraps of bread in the gutters, it still means that the money from the tax breaks goes directly into their pockets. Who benefits is beside the point, it's being done for profit, not because of any legitimate need.

You do understand that there is a difference between developer and publisher, right? They're different companies, and different people, and so on? It seems to me that as far as you're concerned, there's "consumer" and "producer", and anything which costs "consumer" more is the fault of "producer". But unfortunately, it's not quite that simple. In most cases, anyway.

I won't act so condescending as to explain the entire publisher-developer model to you, but it's really worth noting that it's the publishers who're making fat stacks of cash. Just like in the music industry. Just like in the movie industry. I won't go so far as to call game developers 'exploited' by publishers, as many many musicians are, but we're getting there. Consider that the model needs revision to work this imbalance out, not simply that we should declare war on the industry because it's being controlled by some tyrants.

Therumancer:
Sort of like how when I was working and they would call people in yearly for the "enhancements" to our employee benefits.

Your company sounds retarded. What country are you in, so I can not go get a job there?

Dexter111:
But it is [entirely greed motivated, cut from the main content to make money] in 70% of the case[s].

Sorry dude, but I'm going to have to ask you to back up that 70% line with some facts and sources. Because if you reverse it, and call it 30% greed motivated, 70% honest work done after content lock, your argument looks very, very weak.

StriderShinryu:
[...]for example, Valve have proven that a solid policy of periodically lowering the sticker price after launch can massively re-energize sales.

Price reductions do indeed re-energize sales. You should see the sorts of revenue jumps we get in Australia when we discount a new game from $110 to $80. It's nuts. It's still expensive, but noone was screwed over by a publisher, noone was forced to pay for something already in their hands, and more sales are generated. So I applaud Valve, because they aren't fucking with us.

While I agree with the majority of your post, StriderShinryu, there have to be alternatives which involve less obvious gouging. I understand that more revenue is needed, but there have to be ways which are obviously costing something, rather than not. What's galling is being charged for something that doesn't obviously cost anything. We're being charged $10 or whatever to unlock something we already have in our possession. It's less frustrating to see digital-only DLC show up for $10, because it's not already there. It (apparently, at least) wasn't finished by the time the game shipped.

Even having said that, I'm sitting here thinking "What's the difference?" If they just withhold the content from the disk, all it does it arbitrarily cause me to use some of my monthly bandwidth quota on the DLC instead of it being there already.

I think it's important for me to say that I personally have not paid for any extra content for a console game. Or an FPS. Only DLC I've -ever- put money on the table for was City of Heroes stuff, which I can defend because it was A) cheap ($5USD) and B) useful, because it allowed me to more accurately display my characters to the other players. People make the argument about "Horse Armour" as being the worst kind of DLC, but I find that stuff like Mass Effect's "Bring Down the Sky" is much worse. It doesn't integrate nicely into the game. If I've passed the game, it's of no use to me. Ironically, the DLC I'd be most willing to pay for is that of TF2's, and it's free. Go figure.

Fenixius:

Dexter111:
But it is [entirely greed motivated, cut from the main content to make money] in 70% of the case[s].

Sorry dude, but I'm going to have to ask you to back up that 70% line with some facts and sources. Because if you reverse it, and call it 30% greed motivated, 70% honest work done after content lock, your argument looks very, very weak.

And how would I be supposed to prove that? How about you (or someone else) prove that it is always content that was supposed to be in but didn't make it. You can't really, can you?

I just look at all the other stuff they're doing and telling us e.g.:

Capcom says "Oh it's not on-the-disc content we decided to lock out so you can pay more, it's DLC!"
Ubisoft and EA says "Oh it's not DRM, it's a service we are offering you, you can even save your games online, isn't that awesome?" http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/the-needles/7333-EA-Making-DRM-Disappear-in-One-Easy-Step
EA says "Oh it's not a paid for Demo/Beta of a game, it's Premium DLC before the game is done."

The same way they do that they say "Oh it's not content that should be on the disc or in the game at release or would've made it if we pushed Gold one week later (or should be included in the full price of the game and free for all buyers), it's First Day DLC." And somehow, using my brain as in the first 3 cases that be, I do not believe them.

It's kind of as Kotick put it: http://www.destructoid.com/kotick-explains-how-to-screw-500-out-of-a-50-game-148764.phtml

"In the last cycle of videogames you spent $50 on a game, played it and took it back to the shop for credit. Today, we'll (charge) $100 for a guitar. You might add a microphone or drums; you might buy two or three expansions packs, different types of music. Over the life of your ownership you'll probably buy around 25 additional song packs in digital downloads. So, what used to be a $50 sale is a $500 sale today."

only transferred to different kind of games than "Guitar Hero" or "Rock Band", all for the money.

Fenixius:

Therumancer:
Even if you say it's not the coders making ridiculous amounts of money, it's going somewhere. It goes into the pocket of that development team... period. Where doesn't really matter all that much. On top of all that, these guys want tax breaks so they can have even more money in their pockets?

[...] Heck, even if it is a couple of people at the top getting all that money, while the coders fight over scraps of bread in the gutters, it still means that the money from the tax breaks goes directly into their pockets. Who benefits is beside the point, it's being done for profit, not because of any legitimate need.

You do understand that there is a difference between developer and publisher, right? They're different companies, and different people, and so on? It seems to me that as far as you're concerned, there's "consumer" and "producer", and anything which costs "consumer" more is the fault of "producer". But unfortunately, it's not quite that simple. In most cases, anyway.

I won't act so condescending as to explain the entire publisher-developer model to you, but it's really worth noting that it's the publishers who're making fat stacks of cash. Just like in the music industry. Just like in the movie industry. I won't go so far as to call game developers 'exploited' by publishers, as many many musicians are, but we're getting there. Consider that the model needs revision to work this imbalance out, not simply that we should declare war on the industry because it's being controlled by some tyrants

Therumancer:
Sort of like how when I was working and they would call people in yearly for the "enhancements" to our employee benefits.

Your company sounds retarded. What country are you in, so I can not go get a job there?

Well I live in the USA, however my employers were Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, which are both located on Indian Reservations which operate similar to seperate nations. Truthfully both were pretty good employers overall, but they had some interesting quirks especially when it came to morale and criticisms. Admittedly though they DID go rapidly down hill at the various times I worked for them, but it would be a long story.

Working for a tribe can be a bit differant from working normally, mostly it's the same, but they have the leeway to operate very differantly when they want to. Among other things a lot of your "rights as an employee" do not apply there, unless the tribe agreed to it with the state and/or federal goverment to begin with. However understand that for a good long time they were offering more money and better benefits than just about anyone else in Connecticut, though they DID reduce both things.

I am currently retired on disabillity, and I won't go into the full details on my employment and how it ended, at least not at this time.

As far as the developer/producer relationship, I am quite familiar with how it works, as there have been a LOT of articles over the years shedding light on how the industry gets things done. Game Informer, The Escapist, and other sources have all done things on it.

The bottom line is that The Producer provides the money for a project, which they pay to a developer to create it. This leads to a tug of war in some cases between a producer wanting a return on his investment as fast as possible, and of course developers doing what they think is nessicary to produce a quality product.

In the end though it comes down to how much the developer decides to charge to make the game in question. Or how much money the people themselves are deciding to pay themselves if they have an idea and are seeking a producer to put down money for them to make it. The end result, no matter how you decide to argue it, is that millions upon millions of dollars go into a project one way or another. While expensive, things like office space, computers, and other things are minimal compared to some of these budgets. The big cost is the human resources. So basically let's say you've got a team of a couple hundred guys, granted it might cost a million or more to get enough computers/equipment and lease the space for them to work in, but the rest of the budget ultimatly goes towards paying the employees. So basically you wind up with tens of millions of dollars being divided amoung those people to actually develop them game, since that is the price they are ultimatly demanding to do the work.

You have issues of course with producers deciding they want their product released, quite probably before it's ready, so they can see a return on their investment. But also with developers taking this money, paying themselves outrageous salaries, and then not putting in the work to get the project done. A basic example of a worst case scenario would be something like "Duke Nukem Forever" which had a lot of money invested in game development, which meant pay for the developers, without anything acutally being produced.

I'm being simplistic here of course, but the bottom line is that in most cases someone is coming up with millions of dollars, and that money goes towards paying the people involved. How they split it up is kind of irrevelent to the point that your dealing with a crazy amount of money.

My point here is simply that I do not think it should cost tens of millions of dollars to pay a bunch of code monkeys and graphic artists. Those costs to develop are based around what those coders and artists are demanding to be paid. Those costs and paydays are why so much money has to be charged to gamers (one way or another) to make a profit off of the games.

The bottom line is, my opinion is based on what people from the industry itself have said over a period of time. Nobody has yet to fully crack it open, but the bottom line is that I think a lot of people would be fairly shocked if we were ever to see a full itemized accounting of where a producer's money went, and who got paid how much for what.

I look at say Modern Warfare 2, and it's a good game (if not my style), but then again when you point out that it cost a quarter of a billion dollars to develop, and another quarter of a billion dollars to promote, it's pretty shocking because frankly the game isn't all that. Consider that what is probably the equivilent to the entire gross national product of some small developing nations, got spent on this, and somehow split between what... maybe a thousand guys?

no No NO! DLC is not just a rip-off scheme the developers use to get more money. Sure EA's "Project ten-dollar" was a joke, and the armored horse is just dumb. But when it comes to the developers choosing to put in some shoddy questline in a game at time if release or flesh it out and charge me a few bucks for it? Sure. I am suspicious when i buy a game at release or not too far after and there's already something for me to buy. But a few months later. It's open game. Imagine what could've been put in some older games we've played? I do......:stares blankly into sky and drools:

EDIT!: I forgot about expansion packs. And while cheap or free DLC is awesome, the price of DLC versus an expansion pack is satanic levels of evil.

Fenixius:

While I agree with the majority of your post, StriderShinryu, there have to be alternatives which involve less obvious gouging. I understand that more revenue is needed, but there have to be ways which are obviously costing something, rather than not. What's galling is being charged for something that doesn't obviously cost anything. We're being charged $10 or whatever to unlock something we already have in our possession. It's less frustrating to see digital-only DLC show up for $10, because it's not already there. It (apparently, at least) wasn't finished by the time the game shipped.

Absolutely. Even if I'm totally in support of finding alternate revenue streams, I despise the obvious money grab DLC as much as anyone else. Unlock codes for stuff that's obviously finished and on the disc is garbage. I also find it quite dubious when something that would have certainly been included in the game a few years back is obviously stripped out just to sell it as DLC like the extra costumes in SF4 (which were there and in perfect working condition as far back as the invite only site tests).

Make no mistake, it's going to be a challenge for game companies to find that sweet spot where they aren't exploiting gamers but are still able to recoup some of their costs. In the scuffle we are undoubtedly going to see blatant money grabs and casing of it clearly "being done wrong." The only way to combat this is to just not pay for it if you feel it's not worth your money. We aren't going to get anywhere by not trusting anything they say about where the DLC content comes from, and in most cases this is something no one on either side of the argument has any numbers to back up, but if you feel something is wrong then vote with your wallet.

I've said this before and I'll say it again:

I don't mind the concept of DLC. Yes, I prefer old-fashioned full-length expansion packs, but I'm able to accept that those aren't commercially viable anymore. And if I'm playing a great game, I'm more than willing to pay for more of the same in most cases.

What I don't like about most DLC is that the price is out of proportion to the content. If I pay 60 euro for a 30-hour game, it doesn't make sense to pay 15 euro for a 1-hour expansion, especially considering that that one-hour expansion for the most part uses the same assets as the main game, the same engine, the same world, and has drastically reduced distribution costs due to its downloadable nature. I understand why they're not giving DLC away for free all the time, but at least make the price reflect the quality and length a bit more.

There is however one type of 'DLC' that I do hate, and it's BRIEFLY mentioned in the article: The one that's already on the disk. In that case, there is absolutely no excuse for it. In the case of most day-1 DLC I'm willing to believe that they created it after they were already done with the game itself, but if the stuff you're paying for is already a part of the game and only requires an unlocking code to be available that's just plain forcing people to buy something they've already bought. And if you're that willing to fuck your customers for a few extra bucks, why not at least try to cover it up by making it actual DLC? If you're putting it on the disk you're just telling your customers that you're withholding content for no other reason than to milk some extra cash from them.

Graphics likely don't cost a lot of money to produce. I'm sure that hiring a few programmers is less expensive than hiring Alec Baldwin for narration.

DLC is in my opinion, a complete rip.

I'd much rather spend $30 on a good expansion than stupid little micro-transactions or subscriptions (shudders) or DLC. Just because a whole lot of people are generous enough to fork out over $300 a year on WoW (if you PAID me that much I wouldn't play it) doesn't mean that $60 is cheap (or $100 if - like me - you live in a third world country like Australia).

Even though no one complains about not having the "extra" content on Director's Cuts the first time the saw the movie, gamers seem to hate the idea of paying for anything that was "cut" from the released game.

This both is and is not an apt comparison. Let me explain: Director's Cuts, although they can certainly be an underhanded way of making more money on a re-release of roughly the same material, is a very separate experience from the 'official', final cut, release version. I've watched plenty of Director's Cut versions which totally mess up key plot points, pacing, and characterization, and I entirely understand WHY these scenes were cut before release. To me, they're mostly a curiosity, a look into how things could've been - sort of like spin-off comics or video games. Sometimes they really add to the experience, sometimes they're clearly violating the whole essence of the thing.

From the point of view of 'finished product', the non-director's cut version IS the official product which we all will come to cherish and love. The director's cut is the topping on the cake, sometimes. As such, the comparison is apt, since DLC (even 'day one' DLC) can merely be an addition which perhaps expands the world a bit/gives you more to do, IF you like what it says on the box (for instance, I'd never pay for the "Blood Dragon Armor" DLC of Dragon Age, since it seems ridiculous for me to actually START with a top-tier massive armor in my inventory as a fresh off level 1 chracter!). The idea is, then, that the original, non-DLC'd release of the game should be the core, original film. In games, it does not quite work that way.

Ever heard of a movie which on purpose cut out scenes (thus gimping the movie itself), while promoting another, more complete edition? Yes, a Director's Cut can be marketed as containing never-before seen scenes and bla bla, but they were always cut for some reason. In LOTR, that reason might simply have been that putting people through a 4-hour long epic instead of merely a 3 hour one might have been too much - but the fact still remains that a lot of people haven't the concentration to watch the Super Extra Extended Edition (especially not if a marathon is taking place). Thus, consumer choice - both versions are equally good, one version is not intrinsically superior to the other. Day-one DLC and such muddles these waters, a bit too much in my opinion.

I could get a lot of 'DLC' for DA (such as all the fancy items given for free in lieu of various pre-release competitions and such), but frankly, I don't really want them. They mess with the game in its pure form. Since, at the end of the day, DLC is usually not very well thought-out, and generally tends to break, rather than improve, the core gameplay. Oh well. Put your money where you mouth is, I guess!

Pssh, this article is nonsense. You can apologise for it all you want but DLC will only succeed if people want it. Gamers (except for very few) make their purchasing decisions based on perceived value, not in order to "support" the industry. And this is how things should be. Most people believe that DLC is unnecessary, inconvenient, bad value or all of these. It's not up to us to ensure bad, overpriced games can make money and that all developers get paid. If they failed at game development they can move into another industry.

Be careful with the music industry comparison. Millions of people were already downloading their music and begging for a way to do it legally. With games, it is the industry pushing online distribution, not the customers.

in the end of the day, the choice to buy it is still yours. when they force it on u (subscription) than we can get our pitchforks.

Therumancer:
My ....

Dexter111:
Well,....

It isn't greed per se, it is presenting viable business to shareholders and investors; something that is necessary for growth - a target that everyone has. I'd like to see you remain on the same salary year upon year (whatever counter you have to say inflation etc all these rules apply on a grander scale to corporations).

I've said, time and again in this argument re: DLC, prices for games have remained static for years - on a personal level I can recall 50 SNES games. To have static pricing is almost unheard of, and something people choose to "forget" or ignore when crying of alternative revenue streams created by these businesses.

What is preferable; DLC with the option of purchase or a 15 price hike irrespective of whether the additional data would interest you?

Developers demanding a higher percentage of revenue isn't an issue for me. Itigaki provides a product that guarantees X, why shouldn't he have a larger share of it? This isn't greed, this is work return - commission by another word.

The benefits to the consumer of distribution going digital is the sustained static pricing - again ignored in favour of focus on an arguable "negative".

Justifed as above - and even if there wasn't valid reasoning - this is a business, the only focus is money. Get that into your head, these businesses aren't your friends nor do they care of your level of enjoyment. That is all reactant, not catalyst.

Define "considered part of the game years ago", where is the line drawn? I could argue Fallout 3's 5x expansion's would have been included years ago. You mention character costumes and MP modes and I don't see your "proof" that they would have been factored in. What if 10 costumes were available in game, and 1 as DLC? Would this then provoke the same ire?

And I fail to see why the subject of these content locks bearing such disdain. It is petty data, nowhere near required for the enjoyment of the experience intended. Costumes are nothing - ME2 just released costume packs that aren't content locks, face value there is no difference. RE5's Versus mode farmed the tears of the churls because "it should have been standard" - RE1 had no such mode. Content unlock keys are a convenient focus for individuals, at the core it really doesn't matter if you are merely unlocking the code or downloading the raw data - except the former doesn't annoy ISPs or aggravate data stream cost.

I have no doubt that there will be separate meetings about what DLC they can produce for post launch revenue - and that's the point. Separate. Come back to me when the ending is removed from a game and I'll agree with you.

I'm sure you'll quote Prince of Persia, Assassin's Creed II or even the aforementioned Fallout 3 for "chapter exclusion" but remember this - content has been cut from games for years, only now is a viable platform available where the company can benefit in cash stream, and consumers benefit in rejuvenation of a game they enjoy. Each of these games is still a "full experience" with previously losable content strapped on.

Going digital had hidden strings not foreseen. The only "rule of thumb" available was that of the PC expansion; being primarily exclusive on this entity. We had rare instances such as MGS2 Substance - but these aren't REAL expansions. If VR misions were released as DLC - would this be considered "left from the game"?

Offering a game on a server and offering a game via bricks and mortar both have charges applicable. Granted - bricks and mortar is inherently more expensive, the result being digital counterbalancing by equalling the price. Your reward for digital? Convenience.

In a cash rich; time poor society convenience is worth its weight in gold. I don't have the luxury of going to a retailer; my job is ridiculously demanding of both effort and time - the two things required to visit one. Having the option of enjoyment supplied directly whilst half asleep is excellent. Publishers see this, and digital full games are targeted at them. If you are happy to visit a retailer (or wait for a copy to be mailed)- you are not the targeted audience and thus the reason you can't see the appeal. Much as in I do not see the appeal in wearing a bra.

Cartel behaviour is a ridiculous term, especially when looking at the industry in question (and ignoring the most similar markets of music and film).
There isn't meetings between all competitors to state they shall perform actions, retail pricing or otherwise. The reason why there is correlation between DLC becoming present is because the central platform for doing so was made available to them all with the same parameters. I like how this fact is also ignored.

Pricing remaining similar is also normal of an industry - when comparing like for like product there will be little variance in price. The disadvantage we have is "economy" type product is really possible, and therefore the illusion of "cartel" characteristics is presented to those that possess little understanding of economic structuring.

I will agree however on your closing comment, of course DLC is a money grab. Whether directly by charging you for the download - or indirectly providing it for free and hopefully attracting additional consumers. Both are aimed at different audiences for revenue - charged DLC at people clearly willing to spend money on a product because they already have and free DLC trying to convert those previously unwilling.

Free DLC just has a reactant of "appreciation" of consumers, this is just a nice consequence not a goal.

Normal competition arguments cannot be applied here, the competition is content rather than price. You have an umbrella term "game" with many divisions under it, however performing the exact same purpose. I could argue that Bioshock should have had a cheaper retail start point than Final Fantasy XIII because they offer differing levels of hour wastage. But I don't, because it isn't relevant.

My conclusion. DLC IS a necessary evil. You get rid of DLC in whatever form you welcome the price hike - and if that ever happened you would be left begging for your "key unlocks" back.

Dexter, I realise I do not address your post directly, I felt however that my overall thoughts would apply to you also.

Or if EA spent 5 billion less on making characters' hair imperceptibly shinier they wouldn't need to do this at all.

Rack:
Or if EA spent 5 billion less on making characters' hair imperceptibly shinier they wouldn't need to do this at all.

The trouble being that the consumer base demands such articles.

Take FFXIII PS3 360 graphic directive hate. Barely noticable but yet still worth contention. The customer is a shallow beast.

Therumancer:

Really? Because honestly the fight between Itigaki and "Team Ninja" was not that long ago. On top of this "The Escapist" just ran an article about a game studio requesting tax breaks under the arguement that they would be creating a lot of highly paid jobs that would be more or less permanant, with a stated yearly salary of $85,000.

Now granted $85,000 isn't exactly the "Rock Star" lifestyle, I admit that mostly your looking at the heads of design teams that are going to be expecting to walk away with tens of millions hanging out of their back pocket. However when your dealing with long-term coders, artists, etc... getting that kind of money it's no surpise that the prices of games are skyrocketing. That's pretty ridiculous when you think about it. The ironic thing is that I've been back and forth with people about this a few times, who insist game developers are not making that much money. Yet nobody has been able to explain where those tens or hundreds of millions of dollars is going. That pay scale is awfully close to what I came up with based on dividing up some of the budgets for game development vs. the team in question.

Itagaki is a very rare exception, and he is one of the bigger names in gaming. Peter Molyneux, Hideo Kojima, Shigeru Miyamoto, et al are probably making way more than most of their staff. And even then, they're probably only pulling down a few hundred thousand, no different than any other executive in a firm.

But when you are talking about the average rank and file programmer, artist, whatever? Sorry dude, I actually know people in the industry, and your conspiracy theories about how they're all greedy and that's the only reason games cost more these days (even though the price hasn't really increased all that much from ye olden days) really does kind of offend me on their behalf.

The full $60 doesn't make it back to the publisher - and really, publishers *can't* automatically lower the prices on digital distribution, because then they'd lose support from retailers like Wal-Mart who make up a very large percentage of their sales.

You keep attributing these things to "greed," and the fact that companies are still struggling to keep their employees in their chairs just shows how wrong you are. EA was a billion dollars in the red last year - granted, $300m of that was from Playfish, but do you really think it'd waste a billion dollar supporting "rockstar" lifestyles? Give me a break.

Dexter111:

But it is in 70% of the case. Sure some of that DLC might not "get done" on time, still doesn't mean they have to want more money for it, but often it's just cold calculation e.g. "we leave this out, they give us more money". It's like making a theme park ride and stopping halfway through at some platform that wants you to pay some more so you can experience the rest. It doesn't mean it's not done... it often just means they found another business concept and want moar money.

Just take the "natural expansion" to that strategy EA just announced... their "PDLC" content, which is basically long game demos people are supposed to be paying for before the game is done and should supposedly not be included in the "full game". Does that mean it isn't done before the game goes gold? No it doesn't... it just means they want to tap another revenue stream for the idiots that seemingly like to pay 5x for a single game (which often isn't that long anymore anyway... more around 6-12 hours on average).

Or yet another example... compare this business practice with Telltale Games: http://www.telltalegames.com/ , which are all about episodic content, do they charge increasingly high price points for them over and over again? No, not really. If you buy an episode and decide to buy the whole "Season" you just pay less on that because they discount you the price. If you buy the whole season it doesn't cost 20$ per episode to a total of 100$ or whatever EA would do but comes to a pricepoint of between 35-50$ total. And on top of that they send you the DVD with all the games for free after the season is done.
Are they retarded? No, not really they just care about the customer and their reputation a lot more than EA or Activision does, and they're still making tons of money.

70% of the case is a number absolutely made up and pulled out of nowhere.

As is the accusation that DLC is basically content that was cut from games for the sole purpose of making more money. Things get cut from games all the time for any number of reasons - it wasn't feasible at the time, it wouldn't be done before deadlines, it was done but not up to par and brought the game down and they didn't have time to fix it, etc. A lot of the time, these areas and items are things that people on the development team have an emotional connection to - they spend hundreds of hours working on it, and all of a sudden it'll never see the light of day? That sucks!

DLC lets them add some of this stuff in later when they wouldn't have been able to otherwise. And wanting to get paid for extra work? That's not exactly a novel concept, dude. Are you suggesting that they should work more to deliver all gamers more content and not take money for it? That's nuts, and any company that worked like that would go under quickly.

RE: the EA thing... I'm torn. On the one hand, I can see the potential benefit of it for the consumer. Buying a $60 game and discovering it sucks can be kind of painful, but getting a $15 quarter-game and discovering it sucks is a lot easier on the wallet and the psyche. Of course, that's a best case scenario.

L-J-F:
Graphics likely don't cost a lot of money to produce.

Hahahaha. Hahaha.
Seriously? Think about what you just said.

ramox:

You know when everyone used to say that the music industry needed to adapt and find alternative revenue streams instead of blaming pirates when Napster got started? That's what the games industry is doing right now. Just accept that there will be lots of stupid steps along the way.

This is essentially what we are seeing here and i wholeheartedly welcome the process because, looking at the music industry example i believe it will turn out fine in the end. Despite all thebumps and cracks on the road.

Then we should also look at the movie industry which combated piracy and made things better for consumers at the same time. In order to stop losing sales, they decided to lower the prices of dvds (now they're the same price as the ones you buy off the street) and shortened the time we have to wait between theaters and dvd. Also, people outside the US no longer have to wait years to see an American movie.

The game companies are hip to this too with their goty releases but I think there's more they can do. Gaming is still the most expensive form of home entertainment and even though I'm not cash strapped anymore, I have a hard time plopping $60 for a new game anymore often than I already do which isn't often. To pay more on top of that, they need to convince me it's worth it.

Now, I can dig dlc but I'm not going to be interested in dlc for a game that doesn't already have a satisfactory amount of content to begin with. I was grateful when Fallout 3 dlc hit the ps3 because I played that game more than any other single player one this gen. So not only did I think they deserved an extra $30 (I still only got the last 3 they made) but I knew that I was going to get my moneys worth. I don't care when they made the Assassin's Creed 2 dlc because there was so much to do with what was just on the disc, I didn't mind spending a few more bucks for some extra story. That's a lot easier than when I see dlc for a game that I wasn't that impressed with (like gta4 which wasn't as impressive as gta3) selling for $20. Why am I going to pay $20 to make the game a little more like what I thought it should've been like to begin with.

So if they want to sell this stuff to me, they're going to have to really impress me with what's included on the disc first.

John Funk:
[quote="Therumancer" post="6.182855.5461355"]

Really? Because honestly the fight between Itigaki and "Team Ninja" was not that long ago. On top of this "The Escapist" just ran an article about a game studio requesting tax breaks under the arguement that they would be creating a lot of highly paid jobs that would be more or less permanant, with a stated yearly salary of $85,000.

Now granted $85,000 isn't exactly the "Rock Star" lifestyle, I admit that mostly your looking at the heads of design teams that are going to be expecting to walk away with tens of millions hanging out of their back pocket. However when your dealing with long-term coders, artists, etc... getting that kind of money it's no surpise that the prices of games are skyrocketing. That's pretty ridiculous when you think about it. The ironic thing is that I've been back and forth with people about this a few times, who insist game developers are not making that much money. Yet nobody has been able to explain where those tens or hundreds of millions of dollars is going. That pay scale is awfully close to what I came up with based on dividing up some of the budgets for game development vs. the team in question.

Itagaki is a very rare exception, and he is one of the bigger names in gaming. Peter Molyneux, Hideo Kojima, Shigeru Miyamoto, et al are probably making way more than most of their staff. And even then, they're probably only pulling down a few hundred thousand, no different than any other executive in a firm.

But when you are talking about the average rank and file programmer, artist, whatever? Sorry dude, I actually know people in the industry, and your conspiracy theories about how they're all greedy and that's the only reason games cost more these days (even though the price hasn't really increased all that much from ye olden days) really does kind of offend me on their behalf.

The full $60 doesn't make it back to the publisher - and really, publishers *can't* automatically lower the prices on digital distribution, because then they'd lose support from retailers like Wal-Mart who make up a very large percentage of their sales.

You keep attributing these things to "greed," and the fact that companies are still struggling to keep their employees in their chairs just shows how wrong you are. EA was a billion dollars in the red last year - granted, $300m of that was from Playfish, but do you really think it'd waste a billion dollar supporting "rockstar" lifestyles? Give me a break.

-

Did they actually lose a billion dollars though, and if they did was that due to the games or due to the way they were running their company?

One problem with businesses nowadays is that they consider rate of growth to be success, rather than a simple matter of making more money than they spent. What's more businesses make desicians based on projected profits well ahead of time.

What this means is that if a company projects making say 10 billion dollars in profit, and only makes 9 billion that means that they consider themselves a billion dollars behind. One of the things killing business is when companies make desicians and policies ahead of time based on projected earnings rather than money in their pocket. So basically if they spent 10 billion dollars they didn't have on credit, and only make 9 billion in profit to cover that, well that becomes an issue. This is more a matter of them being stupid than them actually not making any money, but it still generally gets whined about as a loss.

This is incidently where a lot of those "Golden Parachutes" come from. Basically the guys in charge of companies effectively hire themselves assigning whatever benefits they want from the company. Then when the company goes down it's already met it's operating expenses to cover them. Thus when a company is bailed out, or declares backrupcy, or whatever they grab their share under the guise of trying to pay off employees (which they can argue they are) or whatever. I've read a bit about it, and it's more complicated than this (and can work differant ways, but that is the gist of it).

The basic point here is that we have to take EA's word for what their books are like. However, given all the other corperate scandals I'm more than a little suspicious. What's more layoffs don't actually mean a whole lot, claiming financial crisis is a way to justify downsizing, every person you cut from the payroll that you don't need right now, is more profit in your pocket from not having to pay them. Company loyalty to their employees don't exist anymore (if it ever did). Companies will find any excuse they can to justify doing things like this, it resonates better to say "we're doing it because we have to" than "we're dumping a lot of our work staff so we can give ourselves more money!".

As far as you knowing people in the industry goes, all I can say in response is that your claims don't mesh extremely well with claims being made in print at various points by people who are also in the industry. For example we DID just have an article here on The Escapist with a company claiming it's going to be paying a lot of people $85,000 annually as a way to try and convince a state to give them tax breaks. The 1C company listed it's current profit margin per item sold in another article as well, which is apparently enough to not only sustain themselves, but grow, but then talked about how that profit could greatly increase through digital distribution.

I can understand your position, and where your coming from, but let's face it... tens of millions of dollars do not just simply vanish. Yet if the people in the industry were making as little money as is claimed, where did that money go?

What's more look at some of these games, okay they ARE very impressive for games, but it's ridiculous when you consider the price tag being claimed. Look at Modern Warfare 2, does that look like something that should have taken half a billion dollars to make? Think about what you could buy for half a billion dollars. Heck the house Evander Holyfield bought that wound up in the news (since he could no longer pay for it) didn't cost that much. Heck you could build some pretty impressive buildings for that price, hiring construction workers, paying for permits, and everything else.

The bottom line is that unless there is a twilight zone vortex under every game studio, sucking up the money, obviously someone is getting overpaid because in the end you basically need some electronic equipment, some office space, and a bunch of code monkeys and gtaphic artists. Sure the gear and space are expensive, that's a couple of a million dollars doubtlessly. That means that somehow the rest of that budget is going to the employees
making the game. I still have not gotten an adequete answer as to where it is.

-

As far as the price "not having increased", we DID just see a $10 price hike not too long ago. What's more $50-$60 is still a pretty substantial chunk of change. I think the game industry is rapidly becoming jaded here. Granted that isn't going to break the bank but homestly "oh it's only $60" or "$10-$20 isn't that much" is a logic that shows a certain detachment from reality. Most people have to plan around dropping $60 for a game, and it becomes even harder if you know your going to spend twice that for DLC or whatever.

Justifed as above - and even if there wasn't valid reasoning - this is a business, the only focus is money. Get that into your head, these businesses aren't your friends nor do they care of your level of enjoyment. That is all reactant, not catalyst.

-

I just wrote a huge response so I'll try and avoid doing the same here.

Pretty much the the above part of your quoting is pretty much what I have been getting at, and you are absolutly correct. Their goal is to make money. Nobody, including me has ever said otherwise.

The big question of course comes down to what is reasonable and what is not. The big counterpoint to unreasonable profiteering is of course the consumer. Consumers who as a group refuse to pay unreasonable prices, support unreasonable money making schemes, and other things. The industry is not going to stop gouging people, because like all capitolists they are greedy. Really what needs to happen is for gamers/consumers to rally and provide a counterbalance to level things out, rather than simply whining and paying whatever the industry demands in the end, leading to them pushing harder feeling they have not hit the celling.

While I understand that gaming news sites/magazines are in business themselves (selling advertisements and such) I tend to feel they should also be a lot more critical of the industry and it's practices than they are (this is not to say they don't make negative comments, but I feel the sources that claim neutrality need to be a bit more balanced when it comes to things like criticism of DLC scams and the like).

In the end, the purpose of my rants is more or less the hope that at some point a lot of people will realize "hey, he's right" and show their support by simply not partaking of the latest cash grab scheme, and themselves becoming a lot more critical of industry prices. I believe that we as gamers could have a lot more influance on the industry and could definatly see prices lower without an "industry wide collapse" simply by not acting like the money bags with legs that we're treated as.

Granted this is a bit naive and idealistic, but hey, I'm a geek who sits on my computer whining. Things like I'm suggesting have happened in the past, albeit they fail far more often.

I do not expect the big boys of the gaming industry to suddenly go "OMG, we have been wrong! Let's turn gamining into a non-profit community service" and then randomly send out their profits to gamers via check as an apology. But if they start losing money due to pushing too hard, they are going to backpedal and start making compromises to draw their customers back and chill out with all the "hey here is an idea to get more money out of idiot gamers!" plans one after another.

Agree or disagree, this is my opinion and thoughts.

Random Bobcat:

Rack:
Or if EA spent 5 billion less on making characters' hair imperceptibly shinier they wouldn't need to do this at all.

The trouble being that the consumer base demands such articles.

Take FFXIII PS3 360 graphic directive hate. Barely noticable but yet still worth contention. The customer is a shallow beast.

I wonder. If the PS3 version looked just like the 360 version I doubt anyone would have commented at all. People want "their" version to be just as good as other peoples but beyond that I don't think they care at all. And even this is likely to be an incredibly vocal minority. Making a game with Xbox level graphics and HD support (much like the old PC versions back in the day) would save an enormous amount in development costs and I don't really think it would significantly impact sales. With decent middle-ware I'm sure EA could achieve even better results for minimal extra costs.

Fenixius:
The biggest thing I got out of this article was this line here that you used to justify a whole bunch of reasons why DLC is a good and/or necessary thing.

Christian Ward:
People often compare console DLC to the "good old days" of free PC content, but PC gaming is, in theory, a totally open market. In the console DLC realm, there are two powerful gatekeepers, Microsoft and Sony, and you need to get your product past them before you start earning any money on it.

This is the problem, right here. Closed systems. Monopolistic/Duopolistic tendencies displayed by the dictators and tyrants who control everything in the market. Same thing on the iPhone app store, you get lots of bullshit from Apple who exert their tyranny ruthlessly, shutting down anything they don't like, and forcing people to pay more and/or use their first party solutions instead of possibly superior third party ones.

Closed system leads to all sorts of bullshit.

Closed systems are neither always-bad nor always-good. I'll not defend the iPhone's App store since Apple themselves seem to keep cocking that up. But the only reason, for example, viruses haven't been written for consoles and can't spread over console networks is closed systems. Though that's not to say manufacturers can't cripple networks themselves through foolishness *cough* more quality control please Sony, *cough*

Open systems also lead to all sorts of bullshit too - when companies didn't closely control everything online in RPGs, things like The Cow Level scams happened in Diablo.

And I'll also just point out that it's much easier to get something released on Steam than Xbox Live and Playstation Network. Solves a lot of problems when your closed system is run by people who aren't giant fucking tools.

Hey, this guy named Hanlon says he lost his razor around here... Could you help him find it?

The Cake Is Annoying:
Hey, this guy named Hanlon says he lost his razor around here... Could you help him find it?

...touch.

But I will also point out that "stupid" is no better than "malicious" in this case for the consumer.

Rack:

Random Bobcat:

Rack:
Or if EA spent 5 billion less on making characters' hair imperceptibly shinier they wouldn't need to do this at all.

The trouble being that the consumer base demands such articles.

Take FFXIII PS3 360 graphic directive hate. Barely noticable but yet still worth contention. The customer is a shallow beast.

I wonder. If the PS3 version looked just like the 360 version I doubt anyone would have commented at all. People want "their" version to be just as good as other peoples but beyond that I don't think they care at all. And even this is likely to be an incredibly vocal minority. Making a game with Xbox level graphics and HD support (much like the old PC versions back in the day) would save an enormous amount in development costs and I don't really think it would significantly impact sales. With decent middle-ware I'm sure EA could achieve even better results for minimal extra costs.

There's a lot of psychology involved in marketing these things. Think of it as a car. Rationally it can be argued that a car is a form of transport, like a bike or a pair of shoes. But no one who owns and drives an Audi will ever describe it as "just a way to get from A to B."

A lot of money in that industry goes into turning a product into an experience, and thats an approach thats been increasing seen in gaming; right down to the colour of the light that first glows on the console when you power it up and the splash screen and accompanying melody for it that appears on screen.

Whether they'll admit it or not (or even realise it), PS3 owners also paid for bragging rights for a more powerful console than the 360 and the promise of games that look like MGS4, and in time, better than it. If FF13 looked just the same across both consoles Sony's brand loyalty would slip a lot. And that resentment would spill over and have knock on effects of sales of all their other products. Ouch.

Its not that PS3 owners are shallow; its that the graphics expectations that they have are higher because they were promised more.

Fenixius:

The Cake Is Annoying:
Hey, this guy named Hanlon says he lost his razor around here... Could you help him find it?

...touch.

But I will also point out that "stupid" is no better than "malicious" in this case for the consumer.

I agree. If one company can get it perfect then incompentent heads should rolling and changes made at companies that are failing their customers.

The Cake Is Annoying:
I agree. If one company can get it perfect then incompentent heads should rolling and changes made at companies that are failing their customers.

And if, say, Sony's people had made an amazing, lightweight, easy to use, easy to distribute system, you can bet Microsoft would be -scrambling- to follow them. But it's not one of the triopoly who have the best solution, it's a minor player in a market they don't care about. Steam is the independant in the three-party preferred system, so no matter how good Steam is, it'll never go up against Playstation and Wii and Xbox.

...unless Valve partner with Intel or Nvidia and make a console. Which would be... probably not a wise investment for them.

Hurr Durr Derp:
I've said this before and I'll say it again:

I don't mind the concept of DLC. Yes, I prefer old-fashioned full-length expansion packs, but I'm able to accept that those aren't commercially viable anymore. And if I'm playing a great game, I'm more than willing to pay for more of the same in most cases.

What I don't like about most DLC is that the price is out of proportion to the content. If I pay 60 euro for a 30-hour game, it doesn't make sense to pay 15 euro for a 1-hour expansion, especially considering that that one-hour expansion for the most part uses the same assets as the main game, the same engine, the same world, and has drastically reduced distribution costs due to its downloadable nature. I understand why they're not giving DLC away for free all the time, but at least make the price reflect the quality and length a bit more.

I've never really been stung on this before. I just pay the same attention to DLC reviews as games.

There is however one type of 'DLC' that I do hate, and it's BRIEFLY mentioned in the article: The one that's already on the disk. In that case, there is absolutely no excuse for it. In the case of most day-1 DLC I'm willing to believe that they created it after they were already done with the game itself, but if the stuff you're paying for is already a part of the game and only requires an unlocking code to be available that's just plain forcing people to buy something they've already bought. And if you're that willing to fuck your customers for a few extra bucks, why not at least try to cover it up by making it actual DLC? If you're putting it on the disk you're just telling your customers that you're withholding content for no other reason than to milk some extra cash from them.

I don't see what difference the location of the physical location of the data really makes; I don't value the ritual of waiting for it to download off servers in anyway. I'd even expect a lot of the data for the DLC (if its being made with the level of attention to detail and integrity that I'd demand from the original game) to be completely finished by the original teams that made the game, if only so everything matches up neatly; so why not save the buyer's broadband a little?

Besides, its not like what is on the DLC is ever promised to the customer for free in these cases. And its not forcing people to buy anything.

Hell, if anything the developers are just making more opportunities for pirates to decode and distribute the DLC. For the sake of not shooting themselves in the foot they should probably curb non-D'ed DLC.

Fenixius:

The Cake Is Annoying:
I agree. If one company can get it perfect then incompentent heads should rolling and changes made at companies that are failing their customers.

And if, say, Sony's people had made an amazing, lightweight, easy to use, easy to distribute system, you can bet Microsoft would be -scrambling- to follow them. But it's not one of the triopoly who have the best solution, it's a minor player in a market they don't care about. Steam is the independant in the three-party preferred system, so no matter how good Steam is, it'll never go up against Playstation and Wii and Xbox.

...unless Valve partner with Intel or Nvidia and make a console. Which would be... probably not a wise investment for them.

Probably not. But with the business model the giants already have in place I can't see them making anything all that amazing or lightweight. Slow and overkill is just how they operate at all levels. Perhaps the ease of use and distribution would be adequate though.

I'm not really surprised the solution is coming from outside the big 3, companies that size almost always institutionalise their management to some degree. Anarchy or completely different views is probably career suicide to anyone who could make a suggestion that has not been successfully demonstrated elsewhere.

Hell, games consoles is a cut throat market (as is processors for that matter; thats a duopoly now, isn't it?). I used to daydream that Sega would return to it and get some pay back but now I almost hope they just steer clear of it. Its alot easier to be scorned than appreciated as a console manufacturer.

I do wonder what things would be like if there were more players in the industry and if software development could be done competively with either smaller teams or shorter development cycles, instead of everything scaled up. I think thats why things like DLC and indie devopment interest me. Its smaller, and has more potential for risks and experimentation.

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