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The Almighty Buck Games

When DLC Goes Wrong 261

Posted by Soulskill
from the horse-armor dept.
kube00 writes "Poorly done downloadable content is one of a gamer's worst nightmares right now. Where a publisher stands to make some money, gamers get screwed. Whether it's the overpriced extra maps/costumes DLC, on-the-disc-at-launch DLC, or DLC that is nothing more than a remake of other content, no game is safe from bad DLC. That includes Modern Warfare 2, Bioshock 2, Uncharted 2 and a host of many other popular games. Is there a chance to fix this system?"
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When DLC Goes Wrong

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  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @03:28AM (#34194012)

    I disagree with that broad statement. If I'm interested in the DLC, I probably felt like the game itself had good value. If I didn't thoroughly enjoy a game, I'm not going to be paying them any more money. What's a "complete" game anyway? I'd rather play a good short game than a tedious long one.

    Furthermore, if DLC comes out months after a game is released, it indicates the devs didn't just decide to withhold content for a premium. And I can understand being in a situation like "We have this interesting side story to develop, but that would push back the release date a few months." I'd rather have that option to extend the game if I'm enjoying it.

  • Re:Yes! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @03:37AM (#34194036)

    DLC can be good for experimental game ideas. Most of the fallout 3 DLC took place in different settings than the main game, there were some interesting ideas in there. Some were utter failures, mothership zeta was terrible. On the other hand, point lookout was great, and most of my favorite fallout 3 experiences were from that.

    Obsidian loses points though for making the end of the game contained in a DLC. I don't know if they had the original ending and decided they could do better (which would be more legitimate) or if they decided they'd be losing money to put all that content in one game (less respectable) or if they decided they could squeeze more out of us by breaking it up (woudn't put it past them).

    However it happened, it was a good game and I didn't think twice about buying New Vegas.

  • by interactive_civilian (205158) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `uromam'> on Thursday November 11, 2010 @03:41AM (#34194052) Homepage Journal

    If I pay for a game, it damn better be a COMPLETE game. But these days, they sell incomplete games now and the missing parts later. DLC is nothing but a scam.

    While I agree with this in principle, I have not yet bought a game that I felt the base-game was incomplete and the DLC felt like a money-grubbing scam. The closest was maybe Borderlands, mainly because the base game storyline was pretty weak. BUT, it was still a damn fun game, even only in the base game. The DLC enhances and extends the game and makes it significantly better, to the extent one might argue that the DLC should have just been part of the original, but I don't fault them too much for it. I think GearBox did alright with their compromise between putting out a game within a reasonable timeframe and putting out a game with all possible content (including stuff you may not have thought of or developed yet).

    A lot of people hate on Bioshock 2, especially for PC after the recent no-DLC-for-PC debacle. For my part, I was very disappointed that Minerva's Den DLC was not coming for PC, mainly because the console users said it was quite good. But, I'd already felt I bought a complete game, so even with this, it was a case of missing out on truly EXTRA content. (And, apparently, they've decided to port Minerva's Den after all... someday)

    And, as for DLC done right, one only has to look at Valve and everything they've done for TF2, L4D, and L4D2. And, they release it for free!

    I agree that I hate the idea of a developer releasing an incomplete game and releasing the story piece by piece, and I WILL NOT buy such a game. I'm keeping my eye on Bioshock Infinite, and if it is anything like that or in any way heavily DLC based, I will skip it. I play games on my computer, and I'm not going to buy an incomplete game that also includes the risk of not being able to get the complete content. If a company does go the incomplete game, bit by bit route, then, assuming it does look like a really good game, I'll just wait for a GOTY edition that bundles all of the DLC and main game into one (and probably save a ton of money, too).

    So, I hear you about wanting a complete game. I agree that DLC *can* be a scam. However, in my experience, DLC has been a good thing, for the most part (or, at least not a hindrance, in the case of BS2). And my money will only go towards supporting games which, if they must have DLC, do DLC right.

  • by Fallingcow (213461) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @05:13AM (#34194390) Homepage

    I wouldn't say L4D had DLC. It had the rest of the game that should have been there at launch, and which those of us who pre-ordered were told would be there eventually. That's not DLC, it's "whoops, we very obviously sold you 2/3 of a game at full price, so here's a patch to enable shit that was already in it but didn't work quite right so we couldn't enable it at launch, and here's a very tiny kind of crappy campaign we had the intern toss together to make up for your not having the entire game you paid for until a couple months after it was released".

    We were also told there would be all kinds of extras released for free over time, like those for TF2--that part never happened, and the map editor was delayed for months, seemingly to prevent L4D from becoming too entrenched and/or preventing modders from cloning too many of L4D2's announced features (many of which were promised as free patches for L4D--go figure) so that the sequel wouldn't flop.

    It was either a dick move on Valve's part, or utterly incompetent management of the L4D project. Either way, though I still like them better than most game dev companies, I won't be buying any future Valve multiplayer games until they've been out for a while and I'm sure they're going to support it as they promised and not cut its feet out from under it by announcing a sequel 6 months after its release, to hit shelves a year after its release.

  • by mcvos (645701) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @05:39AM (#34194502)

    It's interesting to see how DLC is detested in computer games. In boardgames, expansions are popular and sell like wildfire, even if they tend to hurt the game experience (the basic game is often sleek and elegant, and expansions add lots of extra crap). But when people love a game, they love to pay to get even more of it. In RPGs it's even worse: a game is considered unsupported if there's not a regular schedule of source books and other stuff prying money out of our wallets. But here, more stuff usually gives the game more viability. The basic rules are nice to get you going, but we want more setting, more adventures, more careers/classes/abilities/spells, etc.

    There's no real reason for it. There are lots of excellent games that have a complete and very enjoyable game in a single package, but the big sellers are the ones that keep releasing more and more stuff.

    Why wouldn't this work for computer games? A big part of it is of course the way in which the game is released. If the basic game is broken and no fun at all, you'd be crazy to spend money to get more. Releasing an incomplete game and finishing it in DLC is a terrible idea. But releasing a small but fun complete game for a reasonable price, and then selling expansions and more content to those who love it so much they want to get more out of the game, that sounds like a very sensible approach. A company might make the last game you'll ever need, and live from continued support, expansions and new ideas for that game, and of course the new customers that are attracted to such a well-supported game. But yes, it needs to be about honest support, and not merely teasing some extra money out of your customers' wallet.

    I think there's also a collector's itch at work with boardgames and RPGs, though. That's probably less the case with computer games, simply because they're not physical products.

  • Mandatory DLCs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TechBCEternity (561141) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @05:43AM (#34194512) Homepage Journal

    With Modern Warfare 2 it gets worse,

    you need the DLCs or you won't get matched into a multiplayer game or when you do you get kicked out after a couple levels

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @06:11AM (#34194606) Homepage

    As an ex senior game developer, you and I know very well that the problem is that we write two (or three or four) games for every one that's published. And we do this because most of the industry is institutionally incompetent.

    Writers who can't make themselves understood; designers who say "give me an engine then I'll tell you what I really needed it to do"; engine devs who think they're writing the game; game devs who think they're writing the engine; artists who view resource limits as only applying to lesser talents; testers who are just frustrated designers; project managers who want to be producers; producers who want to be distributors; distributors who want to be writers, it's a massive dysfunctional clusterfuck from beginning to end. What amazes me is that anything actually gets released.

    If we had the discipline (as an industry) to write just one game for every game released, they'd all be AAA, and turn at healthy profit at $30 retail.

  • Re:Yes! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ratinox (582104) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @06:59AM (#34194766) Journal
    I don't know about weak; I'd maybe go for "naive", especially since they were producing a very sandbox-y game. However, it's worth mentioning that it was a completely different development studio, so it's hardly surprising that their design goals would be different. Personally, I think it was laudable of them to actually listen to their fans and provide the functionality they asked for, rather than simply ignoring them as so many studios seem to.
  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@nOsPAm.keirstead.org> on Thursday November 11, 2010 @07:38AM (#34194868) Homepage

    Look at what Rockstar has done with Red Dead. First DLC pack is free and adds totally new capabilities to the game.

    Now, one might argue this pack has content that should have came with he game in the first place and all it means is the game was rushed...

    Well, that explanation does not hold water with the Red Dead Undead pack, because it really is a totally new storyline and side-plot of the game, where you kill freaking zombies. It is also VERY well done and well worth the $10.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @08:31AM (#34195062) Homepage

    I'll clarify my point: each AAA game that gets released tends to have been (re)written at least twice. There's no need for that to happen, other than poor management of the process. Egos run rampant, mavericks are brought in and allowed to throw away man-years of work because they think they can re-write it all in less time than it takes to fix it, code is written before requirements, requirements are delayed until code is available, content is produced before it's clear whether it's needed, or suitable, and all the while layers of writers, managers and producers fight turf wars over what game they're actually trying to create.

    Games are expensive because the process of developing them is horrendously wasteful. Take a look at the credits on any AAA title and ask yourself how many of the people there actually contributed to the game that's on your screen - the version that actually got released, rather than all the abandoned attempts. It's surprisingly few.

  • by skorch (906936) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:37AM (#34196046)
    As a current game developer, while I can sympathize with a lot of your points on a general level, it sounds to me like you worked at some particularly shitty companies if all of those things were perpetually true at once.

    Not saying that none of them happen anywhere, but they certainly don't all happen everywhere. And after that, change the details and the job titles in your description and you could be complaining about just about any industry in existence today.
  • by scot4875 (542869) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @02:52PM (#34199116) Homepage

    I can't speak for everyone, but my opinion on this subject is that when you buy an expansion for a board game or an RPG, you *own* it. You can use it, put it in your closet for 5 years, then take it out again and it will still be there. You can turn around and sell it or give it to a friend.

    With DLC, you don't actually own anything. You have your original disc, and you have access to the DLC for as long as the company selling it is kind enough to let you keep using it. But if you get your XBox 1080, then in 5 years decide you'd like to go back and play one of your 360 games, it's a crapshoot as to whether or not you'll have access to any of that DLC.

    This is why I don't buy DLC, personally. It's imaginary property. I'm sure I'll have to break down and buy it soon enough, because that's the way the industry is heading, but for the time being I don't feel that it's justified; I have plenty of other things to do and to play without resorting to DLC.

    --Jeremy

Money is the root of all evil, and man needs roots.

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