DLC, Again

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A bit OT, but I feel that they even had hats to buy in this game was weird.
I mean, everyone I know who has Portal 2 played through the co-op once and never touched it again. What's the point of buying costume stuff for a character you are only ever going to play once or twice, in a game that never changes, and only one person at a time ever sees you.
It's bizarre.
I guess there must be retards out there buying this stuff though, or they wouldn't do it.
I'd be interested to see how well the Portal 2 "dlc" is selling though. I can't imagine it's doing anywhere near as well as TF2.

Dexter111:
Now you're telling me, "but you've got the seats, you've got the wheels and you got the stereo as per brochure, who cares what's in the back seat".

Except NOTHING of what you said is what happened.

What happened was, you went to buy a car and no one told you that, after you bought it, you also qualified for some extra decals you can put on your car for a small charge.

Point is, Valve never enticed you with the new appearance. You didn't buy the game expecting new hats and mustaches and what have you. The face that you DON'T have them out of the box did not dissuade you from buying the game in any way, shape or form. The fact you might get them in the future (free or otherwise) was not used to sell you the game in any way, shape or form.

So, in the end, you have NO REASON to feel cheated when they sell you new hats. Because you didn't think there WERE hats at all, and you bought the game anyways (i.e. you agree the game is worth whatever you paid for it).

Sutter Cane:
No, it's more like saying, Hey, we're making a sequel to ammovie you really like, but many of the eventd of the film will revolve around the events of a short film that we made that you can only see if you go out and buy the special edition DVD.

Wrong. Special Edition DVD requires you to purchase the entire movie again for a larger sum (after you've likely already purchased the original DVD once, which makes the buying of the original seem mood). DLC just requires you to buy the DLC itself, not the entire game again.

Your analogy is flawed.

Also this isn't the first time something like this will have happened. Again, it's often quite common that to fill out pieces of a storyline you, as the consumer, will have to buy additional short-story content created after the original. This doesn't even necessarily have to be the same medium as the original content (if the original content is a movie/game for example, then the filler-content can often be a book or comic).

There is nothing new under the sun really. And again: Complaining that content costs money is more or less idiotic unless we are talking Day 1 DLC.

Totally agree with you Shamus! It's not like the company's twisting your arm to buy these, it's a little extra for those people that want hats! I would never buy these, my main focus is on gameplay but I'm not going to bitch and moan because they are selling some hats to make them a little more money and to give some gamers a little more fun because they now wear a silly hat in game.
About the greed thing... We all have to be greedy (to keep up a quality of life we are happy with), we live in a capitalist society where money talks and to run a AAA games company can not be cheap. Besides, this extra money is very likely to go back into making more games and if a company like Valve is making more games, I am not complaining :)

Caligula_II:
Completely free DLC coming out this summer...just thought you guys should know.

Most likely PC only. Microsoft isn't gonna allow a free download of a decent sized patch.

fix-the-spade:
Well, I'm not going to answer you Shamus, just ask yet more questions!

I am playing a game, the DLC/add on/whatever is there, I've had to download it onto my hard drive because the game won't let me play it without the latest version.
So my hard drive contains vast amounts of conent that should be playable, it's there, it's installed. But I am not allowed to touch it due arbitrary imposed constraints.

Does that mean the developer should pay me when it comes to replace my hard disk because of all the crap they've put on it for me?

Since they've already put it on there, is there any moral/ethical reason I shouldn't just hack the game until I can use it?
Hunting down illicit downloads is one thing, but is it reasonable for a dev to forcibly* install content on my machine and then not let me use it? If I buy a DVD and it won't play I either take it back or start look at work arounds until it does, surely this is no different?

What about discs with content already on them that has to be unlocked? Resident Evil 5's minor infamy for the multiplayer 'download' sticks out in my mind. Would it be unethical to just copy the UI/front end for multiplayer from somewhere and patch it in myself rather than paying for it? It's on the disc, I paid for the disc, the law says I own it regardless of what the EULA might tell me.

Downloaded and online content seems like a massive moral/legal grey void to me. More specifically a void with no botom and no guard rail to stop customers falling in.
The ever increasing amounts of paid DLC and heavy DRM is going to hurt us as players (even more than it does now). I don't particularly fancy the idea of resorting to piracy to actually be able to play/back up/modify/enjoy games, but it is increasingly looking like the future.

*whilst not literally forced game updates are still a Hobson's choice, you can either take the update and all that implies, or junk the game you just spent $60 on.

Supposed you pre loaded Portal 2, the data is on your hard disk. But you can't play it because the release date is isn't out yet and you haven't paid for it. So what now?

Just think about it as pre loaded material. If you don't want it go to the folder that contains the Hats and delete them.

Why does it bother me that these transactions are taking place at all? Because it shows people will pay for anything, no matter how small and pointless it is. Which means more of it will be made and there will be a lesser focus on providing a quality experience. Why bother making a multi million dollar title, when you can just cut corners and make up the profit and deficit with stupid pointless items that take five minutes to make and cost five dollars?

AngryMongoose:
You could call them Microtransactions...
Pretty sure that's already the accepted term.

But then buying a candy bar for $1 or a pack of peanuts for $0.50 are not a microtransactions while spending $5-15 on virtual stuffs is?

RanceJustice:
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".

And if that were true, you might have an argument. But that's NOT what's happening HERE.

Portal 2 is a full game, and a fine game at that. It's not missing anything. The DLC isn't actual game content, it's cosmetic differences. It's a DAMN good pizza. They're just charging extra to make it LOOK different.

I don't mind them selling the hats... if someone wants to wear a silly hat on their awesome robot and are willing to play of it, well go for it!

Also, I didn't even notice you used the number 4 twice but skipped the number 6 (or 7 was it?).

Ahh the self entitled fuckwit, one of the many banes of gamers as a whole. Like the mad uncle you keep in the cellar. I never thought I'd actually be embarrassed for this simple luxury of playing computer games but when it associates you with the kind of knuckle dragging, mouth breathers that bitch and whine about hats, HATS! of all bloody things, I can't help feel a slight twinge of shame.

And if it isn't the score bombers its the damnable "Whatever Next" brigade. You know the type, the ones that latch on to something small then blast it out of proportion. There are some of them in this very thread. "What? Selling cosmetic items that have no impact on the actually game? What's next having to purchase every single feature separately?"

I don't have any idea why you would defend this. Recently developers feel like it's OK to sell you a game with non essential parts missing so you feel like you don't have the full game until you buy these items. This kind of thing can be acceptable for games that are not full priced or have been constantly upgraded with free content (TF2) but when it's a full priced retail game when you buy it you should get the whole game. Oh and EVERYTHING (well maybe except commentaries) in a game is game content. Portal 2 is a move in the wrong direction, games like Crysis, GTA, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Super Meat Boy are the RIGHT direction. Portal 2 may not be the worst in money grabbing behavior, but it does not make it the best.

So the game costs 40. One hat costs 5 [citation needed].

I extrapolate this to mean Portal 2 is worth 8 novelty hats.

That's just sad.

Bring on the free content to boost the value.

I can't really argue with the Portal 2 DLC, particularly as the hats only really work as a sort of status symbol - so making the hats free to everyone would make them mostly worthless and thus no one would particularly care about them. Valve has definitely got it right with the non-gameplay-impacting content offered as extra to make them a quick buck whilst giving away more major DLC for free. There is a huge problem with what a lot of companies are doing but Valve is not one of those companies.

Cursed Frogurt:
Again, people are getting furious over HATS!!

I think Yahtzee said it best: People are shit.

Granted that was his way of explaining why he doesn't play multiplayer but this applies really well here too.

As always, Shamus, your column is a lonely voice of sanity in the wilderness of teh interwebs.

Personally, I think you dodged the most pressing question because it puts a serious hole in your logic that you don't want to face. That is: Don't you think making content that used to be achieved through actual gameplay and skill available to the highest bidder both unethical and a step in the wrong direction in gameplay terms?

It might be a step forward in DLC for the industry, day one DLC is a step backward for Valve. Valve needs to remember that one of the reasons its games are so popular (and rarely pirated) is due to all the good will they're generated through the years by selling us games with a reliable and stable DRM scheme rather than ripping us off and/or forcing us to jump through hoops like EA does. Day 1 DLC is a good business decision in the short term, but are they even considering their PR, which was pristine to this point? I don't want to have to start buying my games piece by piece, and with this decision Valve decided that this was the direction it's going in.

In my opinion, Valve should put these flavor items in the game for free, when they've been created before the release date; as these flavor items would have made the game better. As insignificant as gestures and hats are, they're part of the game: the game I paid $50 for.

"3. It's wrong to sell virtual items. These items exist only to get more money from players.

As opposed to the rest of the game? The hats in Portal 2 aren't any more or less real than the portal gun itself, and both were made for the purposes of making money."

Well, if that is the case, surely it would be appropriate for Valve to charge for the Portal Gun itself, on top of the $50 game. Maybe next time they will; they already sell weapons in TF2.

There's a difference between selling you something, and trying to deflower your customer's wallets. This smells like the latter.

Oh look, day 1 purely cosmetic DLC available in Portal 2 instead of having none.

Honestly, people that have strong feelings against those particular DLCs should probably review their gaming priorities.

Notice the emphasis put on the word particular above.

I still hate any content that is already on the disc but I have to pay for. That, to me, is inappropriate.

I don't mind DLC, but Kotick's idea can go to hell.

At the end of the day, provided that games don't start going down Kotick's line of thinking, the DLC is just an extra that you can have if you want. So long as the original game is solid I don't mind, and it's one's own choice to buy or not anyway.

Again: aren't the hats free if you have them in TF2?

Wow that comment about Kotick pissed me off. Charging for cutscenes? WTF??? That's not being innovative, that's just being a dick and seeing if you can get away with it.

I've really only had two problems with paid DLC:

1. Companies charge too much. If a game costs $60 brand new, and a hat costs $5, then the hat is like 8% of the value of the ENTIRE game. I understand it's a "because you we can" thing, and honestly I am fine with that concept. Lower the price to something like, say, a $1 and you might get five people to buy it, or 10, or 100 for every one person that would have bought it at $5. Likely you would make at least the same amount of money and have more people enjoy the product and overall happier customers. I'm not talking about those grumpy crybabies that don't want DLC at all, you really are never going to please them. If you stopped offering DLC, they'd just find something else to bitch about.

2. Paying for content that should have been part of the original game. If content you download changes the main storyline, it should be part of the original game. You obviously intended it to be there, but you took it out to grab a quick buck. Charging for cutscenes? They have a special room in hell set aside for those people.

when i pay for DLC, i have the idea that i'm paying for the extra works that is done for that DLC. when i know that the DLC already exist on the disk i don't want to pay for it,because they are asking money for something they created in the production for the game, for which i paid 60 euros(netherlands). so yeah, i find it greedy in that situation.

now on the first day dlc. it really depends how they use it. with dragon age II i got a code for both the DLC, so i got it free. it was a reward for buying a real copy of the game. if you buy it second handed, then i think its reasonable that you have to pay for it. but if they don't give codes with games and you have to buy the DLC on the first day then its just wrong.

and yeah, some companys are really bad at giving good prices on their DLC. to pay six euro for one character? hell no.

So, I read the thing about Kotick wanting to sell in-game cutscenes seperately and everyone in the comments seemed to rage at him doing that. However Shamus raises a good point here, there's nothing really wrong with offering to sell an extra little thing if people want to buy it.
Personally I'm not against either of these things.

DISCLAIMER: I'm a Valve fanboy and I'd like to point out Kotick is an idiot.

A bit sniddy but ultimately I have to agree with many of the points.

If you don't like the DLC don't buy it. If enough of you don't buy it the company gets the message. If the quality of the game slips word of mouth will hurt their sales.

The only thing I have against day DLC is when they cut it out or just don't give you access to it on the disk. Now I am not talking about small stuff but like large sections of the game. Understandably there are some games which are exceptions based on their design but take Bioshock 2 for example. All the original DLC was already on the disk. That is just bs especially when the game was clearly missing segments of it because they diverted assets (arguably more to multiplayer which didn't makes sense since a different company worked on it but still it is noticeable and game ruining)and because of that the single player suffered.

The thing of the matter is you will never know the single player suffered until ether your friend wasted his money on the game or you do which is sad if you are like me and like to get games day one.

Anyway it is call market forces people. Supply and demand. If there is a demand the company has a right to fill the supply. Now someone tell that to the politicians. (Bammm political reference. :P)

AndyFromMonday:
Yes, my copy of World of Warcraft DOES contain the celestial steed mount but it's not an integral part to the game. World of Warcraft is also an MMORPG, which is different from say a single player game. Look at Mass Effect 2. The DLC that links the gap between ME2 and ME3 is absolutely needed if you want to make any sense of what the fuck is going on. Fighting games also engage in this bullshit. You pay 60 dollars expecting a full game only to have to pay more for extra fighters. Nowadays the cost of a full experience isn't 60 dollars, already a steep price, it's somewhere between 80 to 90 bucks. This means bad news to most gamers who are on a budget, which is most gamers.

I can't argue about the Portal 2 DLC. It's not in any way pivotal to the gameplay or story. They're goddamn hats. The moment Valve start charging for actual content is the moment I'll become angry. For e.g., TF2 items. They pretty much change the way a class is played and yet they allow people to buy them. If they were only cosmetic items I wouldn't care but it's a step to far. You technically get an advantage by buying them.

In regards to day 1 DLC, it's disgusting. Most of the files for the content is already in the game and yet they make you pay for it. You pay 60 dollars, an already steep price and you end up having to pay even more to experience the whole game, something which you thought you'd get when buying said game. Instead, you end up with a part of the game.

Also, I actually CAN dictate what a company should do with its resources and time. I'M the buyer. They're trying to appeal to ME, not anyone else. Treating user suggestions like shit and continuing to screw gamers over isn't a very good tactic, but apparently putting a "friendly face" and creating drama assures that you'll sell bland, boring and unoriginal games in the millions(I'm looking at you Activision). Correction, I can't dictate what a company should do with its time. WE, as gamers CAN. If we unite we can make publishers and developers dance to our music but unfortunately no one is willing to do so. The gaming community is strong but in the slightest bit united. If we actually do unite our forces and forget our differences we could, without a shadow of a doubt, run the entire industry.

Valve was always seen as a respectable company that would never stoop low. Gamers consider this a betrayal due to many previous "less respected" companies using these sort of cheap tactics. EA, Activision, 2K, etc. DLC is seen as evil because these companies saw it as an easy way to make money instead of as a way to complete their game. Valve has never done this until now and gamers always thought they never would associate themselves with the evil, barbaric tactic that DLC is considered to be.

It's not that I'm against DLC, it's that in against the way it's implemented. It screws over gamers. The thing is, we CAN change this. In fact, we could change the entire face of the gaming industry and make them do our bidding if we had a common goal but unfortunately we don't. There are to many crowds subscribing to different ideas for the gaming community to ever actually make a difference. Petitions do jack shit and so do "protests". Remember how well those so called "protests" went for Left 4 Dead 2? Yeah... The only possible way to unite the community, actually the only possible way to unite people of different view points is to give them a common enemy.

Rant over.

In response to the gamers running the industry...

I think you are right to a point. We do control the industry, but not because of whining on message boards. Our dollars do the talking. Why does Activision churn out COD year after year? Because our dollars have voted this as the case. Why is DLC becoming more and more prevalent? Because we, the gamers, have been shelling over our green backs.

Point of the matter is, your're voting every time you purchase a game or a DLC. You're voting that this kind of thing is what you want.

I have an issue with people thinking that DLC is inherently evil. Someone earlier in this thread mentioned that Fighting games are becoming bad at this. Truth is, this doesn't bother me. Take the following situation...

Would you rather a publisher release DLC for a game for new fighters, arenas and perhaps game modes every so often for a few bucks or have them sell you a new copy of the game the next year for $60?

Personally, I would rather have the option to download specific characters or maps and spend a fraction of what it would cost to get these few additional characters in a brand new game.

Really, publishers should move more towards this model - specifically fighting and sports franchises. How many people complain about Madden coming out every year with essentially no changes outside of a roster update? Wouldn't you rather fork over half the price for DLC with those roster updates while EA works on an entire new engine that will come out in a few years?

MasterV:
FINAL ANSWER:
Because the game already feels unfinshed.

For the record, I haven't bought the game

How did you come to this conclusion without buying the game?

MasterV:
customers are not satisfied with the product they purchased and they (rightly so) bomb the review section of Metacritic. Wah Wah.

Who cares? Only idiots trust aggregate scores,

Also This, they rightly so review bomb the game, and then you say only idiots trust aggregate scores? You are you to say that article's logic is flawed?

aww hats! I might buy em, though I don't have the game yet..

Seriously, this is just for fun. The best example of dodgy dlc is still Assassin's creed 2. They literally skipped 2 chapters in the end you could pay for later.

Ah well, it's a beloved game from a beloved company so it's bound to get a lot of hate. (you know it makes sense)

I feel that DLC like this (really, it's microtransactions to me) is perfectly fine. Nothing was held back from the game, it's no way incomplete without it, and it's purely cosmetic so your robot can look different in multiplayer if you'd like. Would people be making this huge a fuss if there weren't any at all? Would people be going "OMG, I can't believe there's no way for me to change the appearance of my avatar in multiplayer"? I highly doubt it, so why are people going "OMG, they're charging for completely useless, comsetic changes that don't affect gameplay at all"?

I'll give you another one, Mortal Kombat. People are bitching that they can't get all the bonus classic costumes. I actually read a post where someone said that people were having to buy multiple copies of the game to get all the pre-order bonuses.

The problem is that it was obvious and clearly stated the costumes were bonuses for pre-ordering from a certain store. There were also codes exclusive to the DVD movie and the collector's edition. These costumes (and fatalities) are simply cosmetic changes to characters already on the disc and don't affect the game in any way, shape, or form. They're simply there to either give you a nice little bonus from buying from your favorite store or to make you shop somewhere else if you wanted the costume for your favorite character.

In fact, I'd be surprised if the costumes weren't at the very least offered as cheap DLC later at some point. Or even possibly as unlockable in-game content that no one's discovered yet (or at least not as of when I last cared to check, haven't in a week or so). If people are buying multiple copies of the game (or buying the movie if they wouldn't have anyway) just to get pre-order bonuses, that's an indication that those people have bigger issues, especially since Tobias has come out and said that people shouldn't waste their money (speaking of buying multiple copies or buying the codes on ebay for up to $40).

Now if they were offering new characters as DLC already, then yes, I'd have a problem with that, but it's another case of purely cosmetic changes that don't affect the gameplay at all. And in Portal's case, aren't a lot of the items in the shop available either through having them in TF2 or unlocking them in game via achievements? Pretty sure I read that on some forum or another.

My next case is Star Trek Online. It has a cash store with microtransactions (much closer to the WoW reference, but hear me out please). for those of you that haven't played, every 10 levels (11, 21, 31, etc) you gain a new rank and access to a new tier of ships and equipment. You get one free new ship when you make rank and can purchase any others for in-game currency.

Then there's the microtransaction ships. These can be purchased in the cash store and are different from the other ships. Like the rest of the ships, they have their own stats and layouts and are unique. So yes, while these ships do change the balance of the game, they can also be obtained in-game via an alternate currency. True, buying them in the store is easier (plus it unlocks it for all characters on your account), but they are also available in-game for those who either have more time to spend getting the marks or who just don't want to spend real money for them. In my case, since I have limited playtime to enjoy, I'd rather spend it flying the ships I want to mess around with than grinding to get them. Plus now my marks can go towards some of the other ships I looked at but didn't think were worth the money to buy.

They also have micrtransaction costumes (for both your avatar and your ship). When I got my new ship and went to customize it, I didn't really like the look of any of the parts available to me and looked at one skin that was available in the cash store. I ended up liking the way it looked best and spent the money to get it (less than $2). That doesn't affect gameplay at all as my stats don't change, just the look of my ship and it was completely optional. And before anyone says they held back the ship skins to charge for it, iirc the ship skins weren't available at launch (though some avatar costumes were). And even if they were, you still had 3 skins to choose from already, if they wanted to make a little money off a purely cosmetic transaction, more power to them; no one is forcing you to buy the skins you know.

Sorry to rant for so long, didn't realize I had this much to write; but between the P2 and MK rants (and sometimes outright hatred) I've been seeing, I just had to finally say something.

Edit: Double post, sorry.

Dr_Steve_Brule:

BrunDeign:
I'm fine with the hats.

There's nothing wrong with trying to get some extra money as long as people are willing to pay for it.

And they gave me a beanie for some reason so I feel somewhat obligated to defend them. :P

You will get a Benaie in Portal 2 if you already have it in TF2.

As for the article-good points. The pizza toppings analogy is right on the money.

No not that beanie. The grey and pink one. It might not be called a beanie, that's just what I call it.

Pr1mus:

How did you come to this conclusion without buying the game?

Also This, they rightly so review bomb the game, and then you say only idiots trust aggregate scores? You are you to say that article's logic is flawed?

For your first point the answer is simple. If people were satisfied, they wouldnt even bother review bombing the game. I haven't seen this reaction since Dragon Age 2 was released.

If you had a rudimentary ability to read, you'd realise that, just a bit later, I said that they may bomb the score, but a logical man would look PAST the score, check the "review" and decide for themselves if they agree or not. Who am I to say the article's logic is wrong? Someone who is smart enough to realise that, even though the writer has been against DLC tactics like these in the past, when it is from the beloved Valve, suddenly "everyone must follow their example".

Take off your Valve-loving goggles and pay attention kid.

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