DLC, Again

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MisterColeman:
Companies should continue to expect backlash anytime they do DLC. If we become complacent, and even start arguing on their behalf, it just furthers the outcome of quality games being chopped into pieces by greedy marketing departments, because those are games I won't buy no matter how rave the reviews are.

On a case by case basis even if Portal 2 has valid/sane DLC (it does); I'd rather not see it at all because of what it could lead to. The outcry sends a message to the rest of the industry. It is the exact same reason we fight for free speech in even the most rediciulous of cases.

If you want to send a message to the rest of the industry, why send it to Valve? Like Shamus said, plenty of other big developers out there are doing DLC in a much more damaging way than Valve. And yet Portal 2 got a much bigger backlash than the others. That's the stupid part. That's the part that makes no sense.

The complaint I have with DLC is the part of the equation we don't see. A lot of games are designed the same as a movie or book, where a story is laid out and plans are made in advance. Prior to DLC, plans might have changed as development went forward, but they needed to stick close enough to the layout to create the game the planned on. They needed enough content from the start to make their game the game they intended.

With DLC, we have no way of knowing if a Developer views it as a way to put off development of certain aspects of their game; using it as a tool to procrastinate, or cut corners to save time and/or money. Who knows if that 25 hour RPG was supposed to be a 60 hour RPG when it started but they intend to release another 35 hours of content as DLC here and there for the new couple of months?

I don't like being "nickle and dimed" to death in order to play the game I thought I was initially purchasing - Yes Dragon Age, I'm looking directly at you. Little things like Portal 2 does, is fine by me. I could care less about hats or other people buying hats. I can tell they add nothing to the game and therefor, they didn't use the DLC as a way of putting off developing the game.

I miss the age of expansion packs though. Packs that included bulk updates and add-ons for a one-time fee. Comparing DLC to expansion packs, I'd opt for the expansions any day, mostly because they weren't rubbed in your face in teh game. You may know an expansion existed but you didn't have NPC's reminding you about it in the middle of the game every time you went to chat with them.

I like that Shamus tries to interact with his audience, it's always nice to see this.

Anyway, my biggest gripe with DLC is the cost.

A 5$ DLC is 1/12 of the game price, a 10$ one is 1/6. Have you ever seen DLC with that kind of content?

The voice actors can't hammer out texture maps once they're done recording their lines. Not everyone is going to finish their assets at exactly the same time. There will always be a few idle people here and there

A lot of the work is done by outside studios. They do the model/textures/etc. they are paid for then move on to other projects.

If other players want to pay for this DLC and the company is willing to sell it, why do you feel the need to demand that the transaction not take place?

If some other players don't want to pay for games and take them for free from internet sites, why do you feel the need to criticize them? This isn't an argument.

Traun:
I like that Shamus tries to interact with his audience, it's always nice to see this.

Anyway, my biggest gripe with DLC is the cost.

A 5$ DLC is 1/12 of the game price, a 10$ one is 1/6. Have you ever seen DLC with that kind of content?

The voice actors can't hammer out texture maps once they're done recording their lines. Not everyone is going to finish their assets at exactly the same time. There will always be a few idle people here and there

A lot of the work is done by outside studios. They do the model/textures/etc. they are paid for then move on to other projects.

If other players want to pay for this DLC and the company is willing to sell it, why do you feel the need to demand that the transaction not take place?

If some other players don't want to pay for games and take them for free from internet sites, why do you feel the need to criticize them? This isn't an argument.

because you know piacy is immoral when it's simply because you don't want to pay for something. I can't believe you just compared those 2 thing. That's the worst analogy I've heard in a LONG time. This idea that "I don't like the product therefore it shouldn't exist." pisses me off. Just cause YOU don't want it, doesn't mean everyone else doesn't as well. Don't like it, don't support it, don't by the damn hats. If they don't sell, then valve may try something different next time, and if they do sell then the consumer base has spoken that hats are something that they want, and are willing to buy and thus are valuable. Who are YOU to tell people what they should and should not be interested in?

That was a great read, Shamus is probably too smart for the internet however.

Traun:

If other players want to pay for this DLC and the company is willing to sell it, why do you feel the need to demand that the transaction not take place?

If some other players don't want to pay for games and take them for free from internet sites, why do you feel the need to criticize them? This isn't an argument.

One point I would make is about the 'If your boss offered you $100 an hour to play Tetris, would you refuse because you hate "greed"?' analogy.

What if we change it to 'If a homeless guy offered you $100 for directions to the nearest McDonalds, would you refuse because you're blatantly taking advantage of someone who clearly can't afford it?'

I suspect there is a sliding scale between taking money from someone who has more than you and taking money from someone who has considerably less. Personally I feel that taking more than someone can afford to give is taking advantage of them, perhaps others feel differently.

This is no way an issue with the Portal2 stuff, unless you assume that people paying $5 for digital hats in a two player game are actually suffering from some kind of mental illness. In which case it would be a terrible thing to do.

I'd like people to stop being absolute greedy idiots with this portal 2 DLC. The DLC is absolutely optional and effects nothing in game, it's all cosmetic stuff that they are not making you buy.

Most people don't get that some DLC isn't chopped out of the game because they wanted to make money, it got chopped because there wasn't time to make it. Sonic and Knuckles, that whole Kratos climbing Titan video was supposed to be a level, these were cut out and one was actually charged for. These are just the easy ones to pick out, there's TONS games where stuff gets cut out and it's never seen from again.

BUT the companies who run out of time now, can still finish these levels and offer them AFTER the game is out but that's still time spent after the game went gold. Is there some BS DLC? Sure but calling it all out on that is just ignorant because it's not possible to know what wasn't finished when the game went gold/printed.

My ending statement is, this stuff is optional to buy, either do or don't whining about is just insane.

Im just going to ignore all the portal two dlc haters from now on

the real problem here is that people can't differentiate between their own opinion and the opinion of all other players
the "Need" and "Worth" of a game or DLC is COMPLETELY(and i can't stretch that enough so i say it again) COMPLETELY SUBJECTIVE

companies have to balance between all the different subjective thoughts of the whole demographic to get the most bucks out of them
that's why games cost 60 bucks and not 30 or 100 because there are enough people to buy it at 60 so they can max their profits as opposed to 30 or 100

if they would put out Mass Effect 3 for 200 Bucks a copy there would still be a lot of people to get this game
not because they are idiots but because that game is so much worth to them or even more

and if valve releases the next DLC with stickers you can put on your hats but are barely visible there would still be people buying it
and again not because they are idiots but because it's worth the money for them because of a myriad of different reasons

of course those are extreme examples and they will never be reality because the company wouldn't get the best possible profit out of it

the point that i'm getting at is that there is no simple answer to if a DLC is useful or needed or worth the money and it is not on us to judge people who buy DLC or companies who put out DLC to make more money
it is their decision and we have absolutely no right to say anything about that
either we buy it or we don't
and if we don't buy it then we kindly shut up because it doesn't concern us

thank you for your attention

Hmmmm. Can we elect Shamus the most intelligent and levelheaded guy on the Escapist? No? Can we elect him to congress? He's not running? Can we elect him lord emperor?

All kidding aside, I love the incite here. I have often surmised how people will criticize an action while doing it themselves. (Though in a different context) Ever notice how rich people like to criticize others on being greedy? How the cocky disparage others for pride? How a person will judge a people group for being judgmental? Crazy. I'm just bummed Portal 2 had to be the most recent victim. I mean, DA2 is sitting right there, just asking to be torn apart. Anyway, great article. Very nice follow-up to the last one.

The problem with it is that it's sleazy. They're selling simple models for real world money. All you get are low effort models that in total cost practically nothing to make in the first place. They're selling something that shouldn't be sold in the first place.

For five dollars you shouldn't be getting a hat, you should be getting a new character, complete with new animations and dialogue. Something with substance. They're selling bottled air and sure you don't have to buy it if you don't want it but that doesn't change the fact that it is nothing more than a greedy attempt to pocket undeserved money.

I don't mind as long as it's freaking useless stuff. So you can identify who's the gullible victim of commercialism, and who's still a free man. Like the dozen or so people worldwide who didn't rush to buy that celestial steed aka transparent cow overnight.

To me the worst argument is "It's day 1 DLC so it's greedy, it should come out a month later" because, really, how long are co-op hats going to be relevant in a fucking puzzle game?

Well Shamus you're right, there is no problem with the DLC in Portal 2 taken in isolation, but as you hit on in point 9. this is part of a wider trend that is having a deleterious effect on games and the experience we get for our money.
That is a problem, a huge problem IMO, and even if Portal 2 isn't committing any sins itself its still accepting and promoting the concept of DLC... a baton that other companies hardly need any more encouragement in picking up and doing perverted things with.

Finally in answer to your point 5: Yes it true I would not reject an offer from my boss to play teris for $100 an hour (in reality I would as I work in the public sector and that would be a gross misuse of tax payer money, but i'm down with the idea of being paid lots for doing not much). The difference here though is that my being paid $100 an hour by some faceless megacorp isn't going to spoil anyones entertainment... DLC just might.
I'd like to underscore that because I think you really missed the point here Shamus, DLC can reduce the enjoyment people derive from the game they bought, that is what makes it wrong, I say wrong because I don't want to get into pointless specifics like "greedy" or "unethical" which are frankly higher motivations which are completely irrelevant to my enjoyment of a game.

On the whole I agree with you Shamus, and yet I remain a conscientious objector to DLC which I believe does more harm than good and has the potential to radically alter the face of gaming for the worse from a consumers perspective.

Shamus Young:
*snip*

Whenever you speak/write of DLC Shamus, I imagine you standing above someone and hitting that person with a huge plank shouting "WHAT DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND!?".

thumbs up if u think pizza toppings should be free... oh, wait, wrong site. nvm, i still think i shouldnt be charged for pizza toppings..

Jedi Sasquatch:

MisterColeman:
Companies should continue to expect backlash anytime they do DLC. If we become complacent, and even start arguing on their behalf, it just furthers the outcome of quality games being chopped into pieces by greedy marketing departments, because those are games I won't buy no matter how rave the reviews are.

On a case by case basis even if Portal 2 has valid/sane DLC (it does); I'd rather not see it at all because of what it could lead to. The outcry sends a message to the rest of the industry. It is the exact same reason we fight for free speech in even the most rediciulous of cases.

If you want to send a message to the rest of the industry, why send it to Valve? Like Shamus said, plenty of other big developers out there is doing DLC in a much more damaging way than Valve. And yet Portal 2 got a much bigger backlash than the others. That's the stupid part. That's the part that makes no sense.

We need a paragon, a game company we can point to and say "they do it right", we need an example to show up the rest of the industry. Valve is probably in the best position to be that paragon so I expect thats the root cause of the backlash.

Though most of the protesters aren't articulate enough to explain their outrage.

Ephraim J. Witchwood:

Shamus Young:
(Of course, I think games themselves cost too much, but that's another column.)

Even though they've actually come down in price?

I've actually read that article just there and while it tries to say games have come down in price it doesn't really say that. Given the costs of production of the hard physical product have gone down and the consumer base has expanded companies are also making more money. One thing the article does do which I really don't agree with is you can't just slap inflation on the price of games and expect it to boom. Yes inflation should drive the price up a little to compensate for the devs money being overall worth less but games don't really affect inflation like petrol and the general cost of living does as they are not required for it.

This means that games are a luxury good as a luxury good they tend to have quite an elastic demand. This means that a high price will result in a higher loss of demand. Just to take a quick look back at inflation just because inflation is at 5% doesn't mean all good's prices increase by 5%. The general price of goods does. So say if petrol again cause inflation to rise from 4%-5% someone who cycles or walks everywhere is not affected by this. So inflation is not the be all and end all of determining the price of goods.

OT: Anyway I am fairly in agreement on all the points except for the mod one. While I don't care about cosmetic mod like DLC I have no problem with that but I don't agree with DLC you have to pay for that gives weapons in a multiplayer setting. Thankfully I can't think of anyone that does this. Before anyone says TF2 you can buy them or unlock them. I mean cases where you have to buy.

DustyDrB:
The trend I'm very much against is retailer exclusive content like with LA Noire, where missions are given to retailers (Gamestop and Wal-Mart in this case) as preorder bonuses. This just ensures that even the most dedicated fan who preorders a collector's edition from either retailer will still be missing content. I see a slippery slope here. I'm not foolish to enough to say that the retailer exclusive content will get to the point where it's even 25% of the game, but I do think it will get more substantial as long as the trend is supported.

I'm not gonna zero-bomb the game for it, though. In all likelihood, that was a publisher and not a developer decision. I'm just not going to buy the game (at least not new). It's not evil for businesses to act in their own interest, but neither is it evil or entitled for consumers to also act in theirs as well.

I feel this. I want to experience everything, be it as petty as new costumes (or hats). Sure give it free with that purchase, but don't lock me out of ever getting it.

If other players want to pay for this DLC and the company is willing to sell it, why do you feel the need to demand that the transaction not take place?

1. I don't like to get bombarded with advertising for tacky merchandise. Virtual hats for $5 are tacky merchandise. If I get the game for free I'm not as fussed about it, but I tend to avoid 'free stuff' for this reason.

2. If the DLC is selling successfully it may encourage the company to take it one step further, blurring the line between optional DLCs and mandatory DLCs. They may also take the advertising one step further reducing my enjoyment of a game I purchased.

3. I like fair marketing. If a product is worth 10 bucks, I want to pay 10 bucks for it. Very often companies will charge me 8 bucks and try to make the rest of the money on associated services like DLCs. This makes the actual price hard to figure out, and in the long term this isn't beneficial to consumers even though we may get a discount at first.

Any one who is still getting upset about the hats , is an idiot x3 , Plus valve is giving us free DLC this summer ~ :D

When it comes down to it, if people wanna buy it, they will. It's none of anyone else's business whether they do or not. You don't get to tell people what they should buy, nor do you get to say what they should sell.

The greed point is moot, we live in a capitalist society (read: Greed Land.

"If other players want to pay for this DLC and the company is willing to sell it, why do you feel the need to demand that the transaction not take place?"

Because a lot of gamers have have a powerful aversive gut reaction to all DLC based on its pervasive negative presence elsewhere? This may be a case where the DLC is used appropriately, and I agree that review bombers are just being ridiculous, but at this point a lot of people have felt burned repeatedly enough that they just don't like DLC fullstop.

Glademaster:

Ephraim J. Witchwood:

Shamus Young:
(Of course, I think games themselves cost too much, but that's another column.)

Even though they've actually come down in price?

I've actually read that article just there and while it tries to say games have come down in price it doesn't really say that. Given the costs of production of the hard physical product have gone down and the consumer base has expanded companies are also making more money. One thing the article does do which I really don't agree with is you can't just slap inflation on the price of games and expect it to boom. Yes inflation should drive the price up a little to compensate for the devs money being overall worth less but games don't really affect inflation like petrol and the general cost of living does as they are not required for it.

This means that games are a luxury good as a luxury good they tend to have quite an elastic demand. This means that a high price will result in a higher loss of demand. Just to take a quick look back at inflation just because inflation is at 5% doesn't mean all good's prices increase by 5%. The general price of goods does. So say if petrol again cause inflation to rise from 4%-5% someone who cycles or walks everywhere is not affected by this. So inflation is not the be all and end all of determining the price of goods.

OT: Anyway I am fairly in agreement on all the points except for the mod one. While I don't care about cosmetic mod like DLC I have no problem with that but I don't agree with DLC you have to pay for that gives weapons in a multiplayer setting. Thankfully I can't think of anyone that does this. Before anyone says TF2 you can buy them or unlock them. I mean cases where you have to buy.

So TF is balanced?
The sets in the game make the game unplayable its just pathetic, im looking for a server that has those cash shop items disabled, Yes your right i can grind my face off for these items but its not an MMO and i dont play that game more then 1 hour a week, well used to now i dont, but good for them i finally understand that people are sheep willing to buy anything with a price tag, or is it that most gamers are spoiled kids who dont know the value of money?

ionveau:
good for them i finally understand that people are sheep willing to buy anything with a price tag, or is it that most gamers are spoiled kids who dont know the value of money?

I resent that. Some people are living comfortable lives with a fairly high paying job, and spend part of their entertainment money on games that they love. Why would anyone have a problem with that?

My main problem is price...8 dollars for one fucking character in BlazBlue? I don't mind DLC as much as most of the time I feel the money isn't worth it. Yes, Valk, I just said you're not worth it...go back to serving tea while I play as your master.

Traun:

If other players want to pay for this DLC and the company is willing to sell it, why do you feel the need to demand that the transaction not take place?

If some other players don't want to pay for games and take them for free from internet sites, why do you feel the need to criticize them? This isn't an argument.

You inadvertently made a lot of arguments for the other side. You admit that gaming is hurtling towards, if not currently mired in a wasteland where the entire game is sold piecemeal. You admit that people paying for this bullshit is why it continues. We're already to the point that we're not talking about extra pizza toppings anymore, we're actually redefining the concept of "Pizza" as a whole.

Even as a late 20s male, I've watched how the equilibrium has balanced for years - There was a time when your game came with engine/mod tools for the $30-50 entry fee, and ALL the content on the disc or available at day one was available for you for the entire price. You even expected not only bug fixes but some actual FREE content in each patch, as a "Thank You for buying our game. Please think of us when our next project comes out". Bigger blocks of content were sold as complete expansion packs, for $20-40 and often DOUBLED the content of the original game. Look at the Doom 2 Expansions and Jedi Knight's Mysteries of the Sith - it was basically a whole other game as long as the original campaign, with completely new art assets, powers, etc.. Now...compared Mysteries of the Sith.. to Modern Warfare 2's Map Pack. Seriously. Is that Modern Warfare 2 Map Pack literally HALF the amount of content as Mysteries of the Sith? THAT is what we're upset about today. (Don't mention inflation or whatnot, it isn't even a third of a quarter of MotS)

The very concept of "pizza" has changed. It used to be that you may have paid for extra toppings, but today your same $10 pizza comes with no cheese, no tomatoes, no spices, and only 1/4 the bread which is spongy and low quality. Even when you do get lucky enough to find a parlor with a fairly complete basic definition of pizza, their toppings aren't $5 to outfit your pizza with high-quality pepperoni, but rather $5 per pepperoni slice! Would anyone put up with this? Sure, you could be told "Oh, well just get one green pepper and one pepperoni then if you don't want to pay, it doesn't affect the rest of the pizza", but you're be eating a bland pizza remembering the time when you paid a fair price for flavor. If every parlor does this and everyone keeps buying pizza, thinking its normal eventually you're paying $15 for stale, tasteless bread which is being championed as "pizza".

This is the problem. It only takes a very small return on investment for this kind of bullshit to be profitable. So when other people pay $5 for a hat or horse armor, it means that I have to live with incomplete, castrated game content in the future because it would take 90% of us boycotting the game entirely to make our point, and only 5-10% of buyers buying a piece of DLC to put the miniscule amount of work into it to create a profit. When all other regulations and ethics of business are stripped away, the last line of defense is the consumer. The consumer has shown they will well..consume...anything, nomatter what kind of turd sandwich it is, so business has lost any desire to try to cater to the customer, as the AAA gaming industry has figured out that a certain (smaller?) percentage of vacuous wallet-open drool monkeys is the most important part of their financial success. Why go after old codgers like me who have standards and remember quality, when there is an up and coming crop of kids who buy whatever they're told without any question?

double post

Glad you elaborated on it.
Can we now please return to loving Valve? Please?

I don't mind DLC at all. I think though that 5 dollars for a hat is a perfect example that these devs/publishers want as much of our money for as little content as they can get away with. Fair enough. However, I don't want to hear them bitch and moan when the reverse is done to them and people start getting as much of their content for as little money as they can get away with (read none at all). Greed works both ways.

In a perfect world everyone would stop acting like greedy pricks and people would pay fair prices for a quality product. Sadly I don't see this happening anytime soon though. I think it's far more likely that the game industry will soon collapse under the weight of it's own greed and we will have a video game crash ala 1983. In my opinion it can't happen fast enough.

I think they should be called "additional content".

Either way, people who moan about Portal 2 because of DLC are kinda foolish. It's not game centric, therefore it's a personal choice, one that they don't need to make to enjoy the game. END.

I wish I could sell non-existant hats for $5 a piece to hordes of fools. Gabe is one clever guy.

The_root_of_all_evil:
Mostly I agree with Shamus, but (there's always a but)

Shamus Young:
If other players want to pay for this DLC and the company is willing to sell it, why do you feel the need to demand that the transaction not take place?

Because you can use the same justification to promote Zynga's InsomniaVille's line of games,

you use the term "game" in a very broad sense.
all of the zynga stuff should be named "skinners boxvile"

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