Hi there Wagnerockers. I know I haven’t written in nearly 2 months but it’s because I had my university finals. Now I have this short hiatus from that hell on earth to give you some of my insights. Plus I want to thank Dennis, for bringing tons of new readers.
Originally I thought to generally talk about the survival of franchises, but I will focus on DLC phenomena from a few years back
DLC, short for downloadable content, is a form of reusing cut material from the original game, to make a few extra bucks. On paper, this is not a bad thing. One of Mass Effect’s DLCs sold 200,000 copies for 5$ which means the number all rappers sing about in the couple of years they are still relevant. Players get a new facet of the adventure normally they would never see, and the developers have more money to create more awesome things.
Now the DLC concept, as many good things, has been corrupted. Bioshock had already the DLC on the disc, but still needed a special code to release it, overpricing in countless of games and the Mass Effect3 fiasco.
If you wonder why I many times mention that series is because I probably spent so much time on that it rivals the amount of time I spent on Heroes of Might and Magic III and V. if you played these 2 games you know what I’m talking about. The IRL day cycle changed so quickly on these. Probably a bug turned into a feature.
So what is the right price for a DLC? What is the right price for another indie platform game? What is the right price for a one-eye prostitute? In all 3 cases, the answer is the one that gives you the most of money. Games themselves have a huge range of costs from free to play to 60$. The DLC is no difference.
If you are bickering about games being too expensive, I agree they are. Where I live a strong recession is starting, and the cost of gas and bread has risen. Buying expansive games or the ones that want weekly or monthly fee seems irresponsible.
A cost of the game is linear to its success, also the number of DLC and their cost. Remember the developers make these awesome challenges and adventures to be most appealing and fun to make money. Charging more money means more money, that simple.
One thing I noticed since the rise of the DLC is the disappearance of expansions. This only shows how in our age maybe the episodic nature of games fits perfectly. We want everything, and we want it ASAP, and it better be good. A Song of Fire and Ice book takes about 3 years, and this one man in front of his computer. Can 10 people or a 100 people make a great game faster than he? Yeah, probably they can.
Telltale Games have gotten onto something that many people disregard, episodes. Half Life episode 3 might never come out as it replaced Duke Nukem Forever as number 1 vaporware (term for a game that should but won’t come out), but they do deliver. Dividing their story-centric games into episodes, they created a new business model for releases. Why it is not adopted? Because money from DLC smells better since there is more of it.
My suggestion is LCG, living card games. Video games should not look down upon their analogue brethren. As gamers usually do (even I raised an eyebrow sometimes when one of them called himself a gamer, until one of them bit me and turned me into one of them). The LCG concept was developed by Fantasy Flight Games for their collectible card games. Realizing they could never compete with game like Magic and Legend of the 5 Rings, they developed this concept to increase sales not by purchases per player, but players. Until now, they haven’t dropped that concept.
In short, one oversize basic set, as the video game itself, and endless expansions called DLC. Let’s delve further into the analogy. The expansion pecks are quite small compare to the basic set, but they are released often, and are divided into cycles, cycles like in chapters. If a game is done that way it can essentially survive endlessly, if it updates its art and continues to bring to fans.
Personally I enjoy starting watching a show only when it is cancelled, so it would feel like a unified piece of greatness. But I won’t wait if it is really worth it, and probably restart from the beginning as soon as it’s over. Same thing happens with games and DLCs for me.
So essentially, I don’t think DLC are bad. If you call the 2 big Team Fortress 2 DLC, Pyromania and Mann vs. machine good because they are free, I disagree. Team Fortress 2 became free later on because Valve is testing its players with different ideas. Steam checks players activity to learn more on what they like, I just wished they would release some of that research. But one thing is sure, DLC aren’t going anywhere, you will only see more of them with greater length and impact (just like a woman and eh, you probably get it). And now they are not made from scraps left on the editing floor, they are built to keep the game as relevant as possible for as long as possible, like singles from washed-up rappers that just nobody cares about (but they do got millions so I don’t know).
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Filed Under: Editorials
About the Author: Asaph Wanger is long time gamer, working as an independent tabletop games writer and developer.