Stolen Pixels: A Hat for Every Head

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I want a Space Sphere. Right now. Please? Yes. Space, gotta see space...

JonnWood:

Therumancer:
It's fine to respecfully disagree with people, but to mock, misrepresent, and call them idiots? I'm sorry I can't really get behind that. What's more, think about how this is going to make you look if you at some point decide "okay, well DLC is going to far here" and people can point a finger at your passionate defense of Valve and ask "well, what makes it less ridiculous for Valve to do, as opposed to this other company?".

That question has been raised, and is being discussed.

The people he's mocking aren't the ones who think DLC is out of control, it's the people who say that it's worthless, yet simultaneously claim it costs too much. Those are mutually opposing viewpoints, and a sign of an entitlist philosophy.

To be honest, I think DLC and microtransactions are out of control, I have for a very long time.

I don't think this is a very good example. If the game is considered a complete, fulfilling experience, why does the value go down in people's eyes if they find out it's more to it they can't have, no matter how optional(as all DLC is)? It's a rhetorical question: they think they deserve the content for free. They don't.

I have no idea on how one would go about articulating a law to regulate it, but even as someone who doesn't want the goverment involved in business any more than absolutly nessicary, I really think digital transactions need to have more standards applied to them, especially when connected to other products.

I disagree. It'd be like regulating those Deluxe Special Ultra Platinum Backflipping Ninja Edition DVDs. Games are an entertainment product, not something to waste a small fortune in taxpayer money legislating. If you think DLC isn't worth it, don't buy it. Write letters. Don't just complain on some forum.

10-15 years ago when digital downloads were just a whisper on the wind, people would have thought what we are seeing now is the height of ridiculous, paranoid technophobia, after all the gaming industry would "never be that greedy". Leave the door open too long, and I can almost guarantee eventually we'll see people angling to not only put games online and supported by microtransactions, but have people pay by the minute or hour like the days of things like Q-Link. It will be worked in gradually if it goes there (or I should say returns there) but guaranteed, unless someone slams on the brakes things are just going to get worse. What seems insane today, is oftentimes the sad reality of tomorrow when it comes to money making schemes.

This is called a "Slippery Slope" fallacy. "Allowing X will eventually lead to Y, and Y is bad, so X should be outlawed."

Heck, people will say "pay by the hour" is dead, but at the same time they thought the same thing about interactive movies, and look at Heavy Rain, their return is heralded as some kind of new and revolutionary thing.

Heavy Rain was incredibly polarizing. Critics liked it, and players either liked it or declared it a glorified Quick-Time Event. There was a lot of discussion on the matter. I'm not sure how you missed it.

As far as "Heavy Rain" goes, I didn't miss it. It's one of those cases where I think the critics were largely being PAID to like it, and those that weren't being paid or stuck by negative opinions were largely being held back until the major sales rush was over and their influance on sales or professional ratings was minimal.

It's sort of like the whole Gerstmann "Kane and Lynch" scandal, like it or not, professional reviews and critics are bought and sold as part of the advertising budget. "Heavy Rain" is the kind of game that the industry wants to make in some quarters, so they are attempting to create the market for it through hype, rather than trying to have it accepted by the market that is already there. If they can present this as the future of gaming, and what everyone is playing, they have a chance of turning that into reality. It's a well known marketing technique.

This has a little to do with the current dicussion about Valve and Portal 2, at least directly, but I do think that right now one of the reasons why we're hearing all this "QQ" about metabombing is that user reviews are becoming notably out of sync with what are purchused reviews/advertising, which looks bad. "Portal 2" being a minor example compared to "Dragon Age 2" but still noteworthy because the point differances were noticed, and it's not something that can be excused by trolling.

As far as the DLC goes, understand something, I am a capitalist, but I believe that it needs to be reasonably balanced. Totally unfettered capitalism leads to a few greedy jerks ruining everything for everyone. That's why there are protections against monopolies, price setting, cartel behavior, and similar things. As time goes on, new angles need to be addressed.

Right now the reason why I say that I think the goverment might want to consider stepping in here is because of the sheer potential gaming possesses. Too many guys who want to make their huge fortunes even bigger can very easily wind up wrecking the industry long before it ever reaches it's potential. To a lot of people involved in the gaming industry, it doesn't matter if the whole thing collapses and a whole area of development is lost, as long as they walk away with a fortune in their pockets when it eventually does. As a result they are going to push, and push, and push, and make every arguement possible to find every single way to wring every penny out of the customer base until these greedy jerks doing it wind up ruining it for everyone.

Understand, I don't like the goverment being involved in business, but I think things like DLC, especially combined with arguements about the nature of intellecual properties and what rights companies have when it comes to digital distribution and the like, represent a huge area for abuse, and if the goverment waits too long to get involved, they will wind up being in a position where they can't do anything against a system that is already so heavily entrenched.

There is more to it than just virtual hats, it's the whole connected sector of business and development, things like this kind of DLC just being one of the more annoying aspects.

See, I guess what it comes down to is that I think you can be a successful businessman without gouging your customers, and looking to wring every dime out of everyone. It's fine to seek a profit, it's fine to want to get rich, but when your already sitting on top of a mountain of money and your sitting there simply trying to see how big you can make that mountain of money when you already have more of it than you can ever spend... well yeah, I have some issues with that. It's a differant type of situation, but I think it's that kind of thing that ruins functioning capitalist systems just like monopolies and cartels.

Like it or not, the bottom line is that if the digital distribution system didn't exist like it does now, content like this that was developed alongside the game, would be part of the game itself, rather than an additional paid download.

I don't think the issue is a case of people REALLY wanting those hats to a crazy degree like in Shamus' cartoon, but more a situation with people being upset about the situation entirely. See, I think people would rather there be no content, as opposed to this kind of additional trivial content. That's what I think "the other side" is missing in this arguement. It's the principle of the entire thing, more than a feeling of entitlement, or a mad lust for something they don't want to pay for.

rembrandtqeinstein:
There are two groups of people. "Rich" people with a relatively unlimited supply of disposable income. "Poor" people with a limited supply.

Though the game price is $X the "Rich" people are willing and able to spend $X+$Y on that game. The poor people are only able to spend $X. $Y is called consumer surplus.

Capturing the consumer surplus is done through market segmentation where practically the same product is offered for different prices with the higher priced version receiving amenities not available to the lower priced version.

This is similar to airlines offering coach, business, and first class tickets. All of them give you a ride to the destination. First class offers more room and the ability to get on and off first.

The reason there is a backlash is because poor are resentful of rich people. They hate being reminded that someone has the ability to spend more money even if it on something that has no practical value.

Things like cosmetic DLC let the rich people get to show off how rich they are and the poor people don't like it.

Well, there is some truth to what your saying, but I don't think it applies to this arguement in quite that straightforward a fashion.

There is indeed a "class war" involved in gaming, but it's mostly over cash shop games. In general a big part of multiplayer gaming is that within a game all people are equal and it comes down to the abillity of the respective players. Who they are in real life, has no real bearing to their success and failure. Two kids, one rich, and one poor, who both pay the same price of admission are equal in the game, even if one has some serious advantages in real life. This is becoming less true in cash shop games, when a rich kid can buy exps scrolls, buy off death penelties, or load up on special weapons and gear, in addition to his membership fee that gives him a huge advantage over the kid who can't afford to pay that
kind of money to remain competitive. That's a big issue.

There is also an increasing social dynamic, even with cosmetic items, where those who can't afford a fairly unique look, are looked down on. A problem not helped by game designers who will only allow a VERY limited array of Avatar apperances to play off the system and encourage people to pay.

HOWEVER, neither of those things really influance what we're seeing here with Portal 2, because it's not a persistant world game. Yes, it has multi-player, but it doesn't have the same kind of shared world social dynamic. It's not the kind of situation where someone is going to risk a subtle amount of scorn or have trouble finding groups or getting into guilds for having an "off the rack" Avatar which is taken as a sign that they don't view the game seriously enough, or aren't worthy people to a rich kid and their rich friends.

What we're looking at with "Portal 2" is more a matter of principle. The simple fact that Valve decided to embrace this kind of trivial cash grab, and sell content that could easily have been included in the game, especially going by when it was done, as a premium addition. People who complain about it are not doing so because of a feeling of entitlement, or some desperate love of virtual hats, it's because of the trend itself and the ultra-greedy mentality behind it. I don't think a lot of people defending this desician really get that.

See, I think people would have been happier with no trivial content like this at all, than having it being presented as a seperate product.

What's more the "defense" that some of this stuff can be obtained in the game through achievements, actually makes things worse, as it gets into whole issue of economic disparity. Some rich kid can just BUY the benefits of success in these games? That pretty much frags the idea of the games being an equal playing field (at least economically) and such pay offs being something a person gets from gaming abillity and/or dedicated play.

they were talking about how they didn't want to use sticky wall paint shooting gun thing to be able to walk on walls because it made users too disoriented- THAT would be worthwhile DLC. This is just five minutes with whatever the fuck they use to model and skin

Fuck them.

Just as Notch has slipped from my confidence, now has valve.

Seriously, why do companies think they can charge or things that take modders five minutes to make?

Nobody asked for those hats, but they are there. And now people see them and want them and they can't help themselves about it. And Valve knows this. But hats come at additional cost. People aren't asking that Valve goes out of its way to give them free stuff. The hats will obviously never be free because you have to buy the game. They aren't asking for ponies or stuff. All they want is to buy a game and be done with buying the game.

People may also be worried about the future of DLCs. Other publishers may look at Portal 2 and see more opportunities to implement DLCs but they may do it with way less finesse and regard to the player than Valve, integrating DLCs deeper and deeper into core gameplay. We are still very far from that, but its not like publishers would be against the idea.

No I just want a space sphere, but anyone who wants to buy at hat should and no one should complain to them about it, it's there money let them spend it how they want.

Therumancer:

The issue is that DLC has been getting out of control, with companies releasing things like alternate character skins and costumes as additional paid-for DLC. Things that should already be in the game, especially if the content is availible on day #1.

Why? There is no "should". They are private companies, they can do what they like as long as it's legal. Nobody is forcing you to deal with them.

Therumancer:
This has a little to do with the current dicussion about Valve and Portal 2, at least directly, but I do think that right now one of the reasons why we're hearing all this "QQ" about metabombing is that user reviews are becoming notably out of sync with what are purchused reviews/advertising, which looks bad. "Portal 2" being a minor example compared to "Dragon Age 2" but still noteworthy because the point differances were noticed, and it's not something that can be excused by trolling.

Well, the situation between Portal 2 and Dragon Age 2 are actually slightly different. Portal 2 received largely positive reviews from users, with the exception of people who gave it low grades citing the DLC and ARG (and not any actual game content) as the reason why.

Dragon Age 2 received user reviews that were, for the most part, BELOW the "professional average" from users. THEN, Bioware was caught trying to pad the results using their own employees. THEN peopple gave it low grades citing that (and not any actual game content) as the reason why.

Therumancer:
As far as the DLC goes, understand something, I am a capitalist, but I believe that it needs to be reasonably balanced. Totally unfettered capitalism leads to a few greedy jerks ruining everything for everyone. That's why there are protections against monopolies, price setting, cartel behavior, and similar things. As time goes on, new angles need to be addressed.

The problem is that, in this case, this isn't capitalism going crazy. This is charing the right people for the right content.

See, you (and a LOT of people arguing against this) have this crazy dream that there was a chance of getting this all for free. There wasn't. There NEVER WAS. Anything that costs a company money will, in one way or another, cost the consumer money. Maybe it'll be direct (Portal 2 would've been 60 dollars, or the cosmetic content would be severely smaller, or more likely both), maybe it'll be INDIRECT (game is less polished, next game comes out later, not as common with the updates, etc) but anything that adds costs to production will, in one way or another, add cost to the consumer.

So someone, somewhere was going to pay for this content. Period. Guaranteed. The question is never IF it'll be paid for, it's "by whom". And the way they pulled it off, it's being paid by, *gasp* the people who WANT the damned thing.

That's not a bad thing. That's something I wish every company would do with every product.

It's like complaining you have to pay extra for pepperoni...

The avatar dress-up items are only available in the multiplayer portion of Portal 2, which is reportedly five hours long. This isn't Team Fortress 2, where people will come back again and again.

5 hour long co-op campaign? Did everyone suddenly forget that Portal 2 is going to have custom map support through a Portal 2 SDK? People WILL come back again and again. It's like l4d and l4d2, they had set campaigns made by Valve, but a huge variety of custom made campaigns made from the community. Same goes for TF2, most (or all) of the more popular maps is community made.

Remember how games used to come compleate and not "sold separately" ?

Incidentally hat fortress has turned into an MMOFPS. So Valve fan boys shove it up your buts, you can't tell me your game doesn't have grinding anymore cause it does! At least the hat I have in my MMORPG has stats on it.

Honestly, I'd rather pay 5$ to play as the Space Sphere :D

more levels and puzzles in the form of DLC...sure!

hats...no! but I ain't belly achin' about it lol

Gralian:
I think hats are stupid and pointless full stop. I don't want them for free, i don't want them existing - period. It's stupid, trivial "DLC" that makes Valve to be a lot more money-grubbing than it used to be when it was still an indie studio. I know, i know. No-one's forcing me to get any hats, or any DLC, or anything from Mann. Co or the portal merchandise. But as Therumancer said, it's the very existence of such trivial content that people are willing to pay for that gets my blood boiling. Part of me can't help but wonder if people have more money than sense, or don't realise what they're getting (or not) in these micro transactions. Some items from Mann Co cost as high as... what was it? $20? Something like that? It's almost as disgusting as that Smurfberry fiasco, $100 or so for a bucket of the stupid things.

Buying hats is a form of donation, only, you're getting something for them. That's why they're more expensive than a hat "should" be. You're donation, plus getting a virtual show for it.

And they started out as a rare collectible to show your dedication to playing TF2. And it caught on

Deshara:

Buying hats is a form of donation, only, you're getting something for them. That's why they're more expensive than a hat "should" be. You're donation, plus getting a virtual show for it.

And they started out as a rare collectible to show your dedication to playing TF2. And it caught on

A donation? A donation?! We're not getting the bloody game for free, it's not going to a worthy cause or a charity, we still have to pay 30 for it (40 for consoles). The difference between TF2 and Portal is that we got all the content updates for free up until the Mann Co store. With Portal? Sorry, i don't buy that one little bit. Also, last i checked, Valve wasn't exactly doing badly for themselves. Nearly anything and everything they make sells like hot cakes - not to mention whatever tidy profit they make from purchases made through the steam store. This is just greediness, plain and simple.

I'll admit gabe newell turning down my marriage proposal would make me angry at valve to.

whoaaa haha i really love humor when it revolves around unfunny strawman arguments.

Good job as usual Shamus.

Can't say I understand it either.

I've encountered the "I want it but don't want to pay" argument way too often.

The Deadpool:

Dragon Age 2 received user reviews that were, for the most part, BELOW the "professional average" from users. THEN, Bioware was caught trying to pad the results using their own employees. THEN people gave it low grades citing that (and not any actual game content) as the reason why.

I feel I should point out one Bioware employee made a review.
Thats not Bioware, thats a person.

JonnWood:
The problem with complaining about DLC is that a lot of people seem to act like it's not optional. The only thing compelling them to purchase it is their own sense of entitlement, yet it's somehow the fault of the people who made more stuff for them to enjoy. One idiot over at Kotaku said something about Valve "raping [our] wallets".

I get you.

BUT there are some people out there for whom a large part of the challenge/fun/whatever of computer games is beating the game by doing all or as much of it as possible. This was fine before DLC, there was often some really hard to find stuff that people had to spend ages over to get that sense of achievement but that was their choice and it was part of the game. I'll emphasise this, it was all part of the original purchase cost of the game.

Now DLC is being used to change this. Game developers are making achieving that last bit of satisfaction cost EXTRA MONEY now. No longer is the entire game included in the original purchase price, if you want to do all or most of a game now you have to keep forking over money as you go.

When the purchase price of some of the extras is completely out of sync with the actual gameplay value derived from them (eg apparently all these Portal 2 hats cost almost as much as the original game yet make only a cosmetic gameplay difference) then it appears the game company is out to completely rip off the competionist gamer.

So yeah, I can see their point, and if I was one of them then I would be complaining very loudly too.

Imagine if Mass Effect 3 came out with the FPS gameplay built in BUT you had to pay extra everytime you wanted to access the character building/leveling part of the game? Fine for the FPS people, but you are going to get some serious complaints from those who get their enjoyment from the leveling!

I love the space bot. For him the game had a happy ening.

Hyper-space:
The main gripe i have with Valve's DLC is not that its there, but that they said that they would never use DLCs because apparently all of them are only made to nickel and dime the customer, despite many excellent DLCs having been made. So when they make DLC content, they not only go back on their (frankly arrogant) statements, but they come out with weak-sauce DLCs such as 5$ hats.

Seriously, they could not have fucked this up more.

i don't remember valve forcing me to buy their $5 hats so my game experience would be complete. o.O In fact i don't remember noticing there being a store until after i've already beaten both campaigns in the game and reading about the "controversy" here on the escapist.

Seriously what does the hat store being their have anything to do with what you have played? did some1 you know who bought the hat suddenly become faster, jump higher, or can shoot 3 portals instead of 2 in the Coop campaign?

or are you just one of those ppl who complain about something because every other dimwit is?

Mistwraithe:

Now DLC is being used to change this. Game developers are making achieving that last bit of satisfaction cost EXTRA MONEY now. No longer is the entire game included in the original purchase price, if you want to do all or most of a game now you have to keep forking over money as you go.

At last, someone who talks sensibly. Bravo, sir.

Mistwraithe:
[quote="JonnWood" post="6.279923.10933468"]
Imagine if Mass Effect 3 came out with the FPS gameplay built in BUT you had to pay extra everytime you wanted to access the character building/leveling part of the game? Fine for the FPS people, but you are going to get some serious complaints from those who get their enjoyment from the leveling!

That would be wrong. I need the level up screen to complete the game.

I do NOT need a hat to complete the game. There is a HUGE difference, the two are nothing alike.

Valve have a history of releasing a very good SDK with every game which means that community maps are plentiful and free, so lets examine the choices:
1) Game like COD with no SDK and if you want extra levels you have to wait for the dev to make them and then pay for them
2) Game like TF/P 2 where the SDK is available, maps are free and you have the OPTION of paying for silly hats that have 0 impact on the game.

As others have said, if the game included NO hats there would be no complaints.

As for DLC being "out of hand" or games being "sold finished" I remember the games you are talking about. Those are the games that had a very finite ammount of gameplay. TF2 has "endless"* replay since there are thousands of maps out there.

It's the will of the market, if people wanna give their money to Valve for some goofy hats Valve has every right to take it. Capitalism is very prominent, there are things I don't like about it but this is a relatively honest thing, pay five dollars get a silly hat, don't want a hat have fun anyway.

The Deadpool:
[
The problem is that, in this case, this isn't capitalism going crazy. This is charing the right people for the right content.

See, you (and a LOT of people arguing against this) have this crazy dream that there was a chance of getting this all for free. There wasn't. There NEVER WAS. Anything that costs a company money will, in one way or another, cost the consumer money. Maybe it'll be direct (Portal 2 would've been 60 dollars, or the cosmetic content would be severely smaller, or more likely both), maybe it'll be INDIRECT (game is less polished, next game comes out later, not as common with the updates, etc) but anything that adds costs to production will, in one way or another, add cost to the consumer.

So someone, somewhere was going to pay for this content. Period. Guaranteed. The question is never IF it'll be paid for, it's "by whom". And the way they pulled it off, it's being paid by, *gasp* the people who WANT the damned thing.

That's not a bad thing. That's something I wish every company would do with every product.

It's like complaining you have to pay extra for pepperoni...

Incorrect actually, as demonstrated by the simple fact that things like alternative costumes have been part of the package of games since someone came up with the idea of alternative skins, until recently.

Really the only arguement that people can try and make about this is that it's unreasonable for people to be upset about features that have been a standing part of products all this time, deciding to remove them and charge extra for them. It would be like Microsoft deciding to take the defrag, or notepad function out of Windows. Technically you don't need them, despite people wanting them, or their continued prescence.

You can say "this is differant" and come up with all kinds of justifications. Those justifications being backed by fanboyism, being a part of the industry even indirectly (such as a paid reviewer), or simply someone who figures that it's too much trouble for what they see as little potential gain right now. A gamer who wants immediate gratification *right now* doesn't want to take a stance that would ultimatly involve them not buying games and go without as a matter of principle.

To be honest, the peperoni analogy is kind of flawed because a Pizza has never had that included by default, a Pizza being a type of dish as opposed to one that includes a paticular kind of meat by default. A better analogy would probably be something like a Reuban Sandwich where you suddenly had to pay more money for the dressing or saurkraut, given that a reuban is a very specific type of sandwich.

I get where the other side is coming from with this kind of thing, I just happen to disagree with it. My personal attitude is that paid DLC should exclusively be substantial additions to the game, created after the fact. If that includes new skins as part of the package, so be it. New levels, continents, and other things are all reasonable.

My personal litmus test (so to speak) is to ask the question "back before digital downloads took off, would this DLC be something they would have felt would have been worth distributing as a seperate product on physical media". If the answer is "no" then I feel there is a problem.

It very much is a case of capitalism going out of control. Believe it or not, I *DO* believe in capitalism to an extreme degree, I just don't believe in unfettered capitalism. I believe that for the system to be sustained and actually avoid destroying itself, there needs to be limitations placed on it, rules against things like monopolies and cartels, and of course to prevent a handfull of greedy jerks from effectively destroying an industry they happen to be in by starting negative trends.

-|-:

Therumancer:

The issue is that DLC has been getting out of control, with companies releasing things like alternate character skins and costumes as additional paid-for DLC. Things that should already be in the game, especially if the content is availible on day #1.

Why? There is no "should". They are private companies, they can do what they like as long as it's legal. Nobody is forcing you to deal with them.

Well, by saying that I think the goverment should be involved in preventing digital downloads from getting out of control, as much as I hate the goverment being involved in business, I have also been argueing that it shouldn't be legal.

See, I'm a believer in capitalism, but not in unfettered capitalism. I believe that for such a system to work, self-destructive trends like monopolies, cartels, and similar things need to be regulated. This also includes limiting trends within a specific industry that are going to have an overall negative effect.

This can be subjective of course, but one of the big challenges of capitalism is to prevent a handfull of greedy jerks who find an angle from ruining it for everyone. Human nature being what it is, most people have no trouble raping an industry until it's dead, as long as they walk away with a fortune which they can presumably invest in something else. I see out of control DLC, and all of this nickel and diming as a trend which can destroy the developing games industry as all the bean counters who are already making more money than they could likely ever spend, turn making even more ridiculous amounts of money into a sort of persistant game for themselves. While it manifests differantly for differant industries, this kind of trend is never a good thing.

While it is difficult to solidly define in a law, the direction I think things need to go in is to create guidelines for a minimum amount of content that can be present in a paid-for digital download.

Therumancer:
Incorrect actually, as demonstrated by the simple fact that things like alternative costumes have been part of the package of games since someone came up with the idea of alternative skins, until recently.

Untrue.

Not EVERY game had alternative skins. And even those that did, MOST games just had a color swap. Hell, most games STILL don't.

Even if (and I sure can't think of one) you can point to a ONE game that has even half of the sheer amount of alternative skins that Portal 2 has for free, that'd still be one against five billion that didn't...

And it still doesn't answer the fact that Portal 2 is ten dollars cheaper than the industry average.

And it doesn't change the fact that it WAS NEVER FREE. You ALWAYS paid for it. The difference was, I used to have to pay for it too, even though I never wanted the damned thing. All Portal 2 (and several other games rescently) did was give me the CHOICE to NOT pay for it. Now, if you want it, YOU pay for it. If you don't, you don't have to pay a dime.

Consumer choice. It's a GOOD thing.

Therumancer:

Well, by saying that I think the goverment should be involved in preventing digital downloads from getting out of control, as much as I hate the goverment being involved in business, I have also been argueing that it shouldn't be legal.

See, I'm a believer in capitalism, but not in unfettered capitalism. I believe that for such a system to work, self-destructive trends like monopolies, cartels, and similar things need to be regulated. This also includes limiting trends within a specific industry that are going to have an overall negative effect.

This can be subjective of course, but one of the big challenges of capitalism is to prevent a handfull of greedy jerks who find an angle from ruining it for everyone. Human nature being what it is, most people have no trouble raping an industry until it's dead, as long as they walk away with a fortune which they can presumably invest in something else. I see out of control DLC, and all of this nickel and diming as a trend which can destroy the developing games industry as all the bean counters who are already making more money than they could likely ever spend, turn making even more ridiculous amounts of money into a sort of persistant game for themselves. While it manifests differantly for differant industries, this kind of trend is never a good thing.

While it is difficult to solidly define in a law, the direction I think things need to go in is to create guidelines for a minimum amount of content that can be present in a paid-for digital download.

You say you believe in capitalism, but the rest of your post indicates that you do not at all. There are two parties engaged in a trade that they see as mutually beneficial - person gets game, company gets money. Providing there is no fraud or misrepresentation then I really don't see how it's your or the governments business what people spend there cash on or what a company can decide to put up for sale.

DLC won't destroy anything - the games market is highly competitive and when enough people see it as a rip off then they will stop buying it. This is market forces in action - you don't need the state stepping in to create new laws or guidelines - we don't live in north korea.

The Deadpool:

Therumancer:
Incorrect actually, as demonstrated by the simple fact that things like alternative costumes have been part of the package of games since someone came up with the idea of alternative skins, until recently.

Untrue.

Not EVERY game had alternative skins. And even those that did, MOST games just had a color swap. Hell, most games STILL don't.

Even if (and I sure can't think of one) you can point to a ONE game that has even half of the sheer amount of alternative skins that Portal 2 has for free, that'd still be one against five billion that didn't...

And it still doesn't answer the fact that Portal 2 is ten dollars cheaper than the industry average.

And it doesn't change the fact that it WAS NEVER FREE. You ALWAYS paid for it. The difference was, I used to have to pay for it too, even though I never wanted the damned thing. All Portal 2 (and several other games rescently) did was give me the CHOICE to NOT pay for it. Now, if you want it, YOU pay for it. If you don't, you don't have to pay a dime.

Consumer choice. It's a GOOD thing.

The content, when it was present, was part of the price of the game. Not a matter of buying the game, and then having to purchuse trivial things like extra costumes seperatly.

However, while it goes past Valve, right now games are charging for the recolors as well. A lot of this defense is because it's involving Valve and Portal 2, and people want to defend it for that reason. Things would be far more balanced if the criticism was being made of Capcom or Valve.

As I see things, as long as they come up with trivial content and then try and demand a seperate fee for it, there will be an issue. Especially when your dealing with features that were included with games BEFORE they came up with a method of gouging consumers.

In the end we're going to have to agree to disagree, but as I said, my personal litmus test is "would they have released this as a seperate product before digital distribution". Nobody would have packaged an alternate costume, shipped it out to the stores, and sold it. If they made the costume, it would be right there as part of the game.

It's only a consumer choice because they are putting the trivial content on the market.

-|-:

Therumancer:

Well, by saying that I think the goverment should be involved in preventing digital downloads from getting out of control, as much as I hate the goverment being involved in business, I have also been argueing that it shouldn't be legal.

See, I'm a believer in capitalism, but not in unfettered capitalism. I believe that for such a system to work, self-destructive trends like monopolies, cartels, and similar things need to be regulated. This also includes limiting trends within a specific industry that are going to have an overall negative effect.

This can be subjective of course, but one of the big challenges of capitalism is to prevent a handfull of greedy jerks who find an angle from ruining it for everyone. Human nature being what it is, most people have no trouble raping an industry until it's dead, as long as they walk away with a fortune which they can presumably invest in something else. I see out of control DLC, and all of this nickel and diming as a trend which can destroy the developing games industry as all the bean counters who are already making more money than they could likely ever spend, turn making even more ridiculous amounts of money into a sort of persistant game for themselves. While it manifests differantly for differant industries, this kind of trend is never a good thing.

While it is difficult to solidly define in a law, the direction I think things need to go in is to create guidelines for a minimum amount of content that can be present in a paid-for digital download.

You say you believe in capitalism, but the rest of your post indicates that you do not at all. There are two parties engaged in a trade that they see as mutually beneficial - person gets game, company gets money. Providing there is no fraud or misrepresentation then I really don't see how it's your or the governments business what people spend there cash on or what a company can decide to put up for sale.

DLC won't destroy anything - the games market is highly competitive and when enough people see it as a rip off then they will stop buying it. This is market forces in action - you don't need the state stepping in to create new laws or guidelines - we don't live in north korea.

Quite to the contrary, things like these kinds of DLC gimmicks are becoming entrenched as part of the business model, and assumed as part of projected profits. Sadly the economy is no longer simple enough where straightforward logic about an industry adapting to customers still applies. Beyond a certain point, if these things are allowed to continue, cutting them out will affect the business to the point where the industry will collapse when producers pull out if nothing else. That's one of the problems with the corperate mentality, and how modern businesses work. The goverment is generally behind society in producing relevent regulations, and that includes business. The regulation in this case actually benefitting the industry in the long run by stopping it from institutionalizing these practices beyond the point of practical removal. It might upset certain greedy profit mongers right now, but in the long term it will benefit everyone, including those businesses. Putting the genie back in the bottle is not easy, but right now it can still be done, albiet it would take the intervention of something like the goverment in order to do it and reverse the trend, before it gets to the point where it can't be stopped even if the businesses want to.

Right now you'll notice there is a lot of talk about the industry being unable to sustain it's current model. That's because the industry is trying to act like it's Hollywood, when it's not anything like that yet, although it could be. Rather than tightening their belts and embracing more realistic expectations, your seeing more ways being contreived to keep the profit growth going, and pay the increasingly lavish demands of the people within the industry. This kind of DLC is actually developed to hep maintain a system that is fundementally incapable of supporting itself, and is ultimatly going to help bring about an industry crash as things progressively get worse.

In the end we're going to have to agree to disagree, but that's how I see things, and it's a bit more than "just my opinion" despite what you might want to think, as plenty of analysts have been saying exactly the same thing. Albiet nobody wants to tighten their belts and cut back. Everyone waits for someone else to do it, and a lot of the people at the top of the totem poles figure "so what if it crashes? I'll have made my fortune".

As far as the discussion of Capitalism goes, I am a Capitalist, just not a purist. I do not believe in unfettered, unrestricted Capitalism. I think one of the jobs of the goverment is to maintain the health of the economy, and keep it open to everyone. Stopping monopolies, cartels, or private little empires like the one Ted Turner tried to build before they occur, and breaking them up when they do. According to strict capitalism, that's not appropriate, but under the American version it is. In this case the problem isn't as straightforward as dealing with a monopoly, but it's being done for the similar motive of protecting an industry and keeping it alive so the people involved won't strangle it, especially before it's even come close to it's potential.

There is a lot of room between pure capitalism, and North Korean-type or Chinese socialism. We exist in that gray area, tending far more towards the capitalist side of things.

Therumancer:
The content, when it was present, was part of the price of the game.

Right. So you agree that it was NEVER FREE. So the argument that "it used to be free" is null and void: You ALWAYS paid for it. The only difference with this model is a) You have a much bigger (and likely better quality) library of random fluff to pick from and b) I no longer have to pay for YOUR crap.

You argue "they would have been part of the game" and I argue "They were NEVER part of the game". This level of uniqueness in character model wasn't the norm (most versus games have recolors and like a symbol, some RPGs and sandbox games have character creations, everything else has eitehr recolors or NOTHING) it was a damned rarity.

So no, new costumes were never free, and if they couldn't be charged for separately they would have more than likely not have been made AT ALL. And the funny thing is, you would have bought the game then and been happy about it.

I know this because the console sales (who DON'T have access to any store OR costumization choices) are doing just fine...

In the end, Valve sold you the game WITHOUT the costumization options. They never promised it for free. They told you straight up: "Give us 50 bucks, we give you single player and multiplayer content." You, when you went to the store, said "This content is very much worth 50 bucks, here is my money kind sir."

You then went home, found out they were selling hats and mustaches and whatever the hell else it was and all of a sudden it became a problem...

Therumancer:

Quite to the contrary, things like these kinds of DLC gimmicks are becoming entrenched as part of the business model, and assumed as part of projected profits. Sadly the economy is no longer simple enough where straightforward logic about an industry adapting to customers still applies. Beyond a certain point, if these things are allowed to continue, cutting them out will affect the business to the point where the industry will collapse when producers pull out if nothing else. That's one of the problems with the corperate mentality, and how modern businesses work. The goverment is generally behind society in producing relevent regulations, and that includes business. The regulation in this case actually benefitting the industry in the long run by stopping it from institutionalizing these practices beyond the point of practical removal. It might upset certain greedy profit mongers right now, but in the long term it will benefit everyone, including those businesses. Putting the genie back in the bottle is not easy, but right now it can still be done, albiet it would take the intervention of something like the goverment in order to do it and reverse the trend, before it gets to the point where it can't be stopped even if the businesses want to.

Right now you'll notice there is a lot of talk about the industry being unable to sustain it's current model. That's because the industry is trying to act like it's Hollywood, when it's not anything like that yet, although it could be. Rather than tightening their belts and embracing more realistic expectations, your seeing more ways being contreived to keep the profit growth going, and pay the increasingly lavish demands of the people within the industry. This kind of DLC is actually developed to hep maintain a system that is fundementally incapable of supporting itself, and is ultimatly going to help bring about an industry crash as things progressively get worse.

In the end we're going to have to agree to disagree, but that's how I see things, and it's a bit more than "just my opinion" despite what you might want to think, as plenty of analysts have been saying exactly the same thing. Albiet nobody wants to tighten their belts and cut back. Everyone waits for someone else to do it, and a lot of the people at the top of the totem poles figure "so what if it crashes? I'll have made my fortune".

As far as the discussion of Capitalism goes, I am a Capitalist, just not a purist. I do not believe in unfettered, unrestricted Capitalism. I think one of the jobs of the goverment is to maintain the health of the economy, and keep it open to everyone. Stopping monopolies, cartels, or private little empires like the one Ted Turner tried to build before they occur, and breaking them up when they do. According to strict capitalism, that's not appropriate, but under the American version it is. In this case the problem isn't as straightforward as dealing with a monopoly, but it's being done for the similar motive of protecting an industry and keeping it alive so the people involved won't strangle it, especially before it's even come close to it's potential.

There is a lot of room between pure capitalism, and North Korean-type or Chinese socialism. We exist in that gray area, tending far more towards the capitalist side of things.

So your argument is that the companies in the industry that have what you consider to be bad business practices need protecting from themselves? I disagree completely, games development isn't anything like banking, or power generation, or telecoms - there are no TBTF developers or publishers that need breaking up.

You talk about monopolies and cartels as if such things actually exist amongst games companies when the opposite is actually true. Competition is fierce and companies are being created or going bankrupt all the time.

In this specific case, valve did some work and if you want to benefit from it they want you to pay up. I'm still at a loss why you think you should get their work for free, or worse why you want the government to force them to give you their work for free. What you are asking for are in effect price controls - and price controls always create shortages. Always.

Therumancer:
Shamus, I think you are being deliberatly obtuse on the issue.

The issue is that DLC has been getting out of control, with companies releasing things like alternate character skins and costumes as additional paid-for DLC. Things that should already be in the game, especially if the content is availible on day #1. The only reason why these additions are NOT part of the game, is because the company figures it can make more money by selling them as a DLC.

Ask yourself if DLC didn't exist, would Valve, Capcom, or other companies doing things like this have tried to ship out and sell this content as a seperate disk based add on? No, they wouldn't have. It would have just been in the game, as alternative costumes usually were.

The point is that people who are upset over this don't like being gouged, and the game industry looking for literally every angle they can to make a buck off of people. Increasingly, anything that can be held back from a game and sold seperatly will be.

You might not have an issue with this, scream about entitled-feeling morons, and everything else, but that doesn't change that a lot of people don't like it, and want their games to be self-contained, with only meaningful add ons and expansions being released for additonal payment.

While I can't speak for you, I'll also point out that a lot of the defenses of what Valve is doing is because it's Valve. You'll notice not many people have come running to Capcom's defense over what is pretty much the same exact issue, with them selling recolors and alternate costumes for characters in games like "Street Fighter".

It's fine to respecfully disagree with people, but to mock, misrepresent, and call them idiots? I'm sorry I can't really get behind that. What's more, think about how this is going to make you look if you at some point decide "okay, well DLC is going to far here" and people can point a finger at your passionate defense of Valve and ask "well, what makes it less ridiculous for Valve to do, as opposed to this other company?".

Now, I know people will probably get on my case yet again for saying this, but really I don't think Valve was effectively "Metabombed" for this, since trolls aren't that powerful on their own. While some people might be unpleasant in the way they express their dislike of trivial DLC, simply it's very existance being annoying to them, I don't think that is a reason to totally dismiss their position.

To be honest, I think DLC and microtransactions are out of control, I have for a very long time. I have no idea on how one would go about articulating a law to regulate it, but even as someone who doesn't want the goverment involved in business any more than absolutly nessicary, I really think digital transactions need to have more standards applied to them, especially when connected to other products. 10-15 years ago when digital downloads were just a whisper on the wind, people would have thought what we are seeing now is the height of ridiculous, paranoid technophobia, after all the gaming industry would "never be that greedy". Leave the door open too long, and I can almost guarantee eventually we'll see people angling to not only put games online and supported by microtransactions, but have people pay by the minute or hour like the days of things like Q-Link. It will be worked in gradually if it goes there (or I should say returns there) but guaranteed, unless someone slams on the brakes things are just going to get worse. What seems insane today, is oftentimes the sad reality of tomorrow when it comes to money making schemes. Heck, people will say "pay by the hour" is dead, but at the same time they thought the same thing about interactive movies, and look at Heavy Rain, their return is heralded as some kind of new and revolutionary thing.

That is quite a rant. Of course there is a simple way of avoiding it. Do like I do, ignore it and don't buy it. See how simple that is?

Perhaps you should go to your local store and complain about all the random crappy trinkets they display at the check out counter. Not much different.

mcnally86:
Remember how games used to come compleate and not "sold separately" ?

Really? I seem to have a cloth Bungie Marathon collectors bag from back when games didn't get packaged differently for different markets. Probably boxed away next to my collectors edition Warcraft III...

And my extended edition LotR, and god knows how many editions of Star Wars...

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