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The Almighty Buck Games

When DLC Goes Wrong 261

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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  • Yes! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zcomuto ( 1700174 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @03:18AM (#34193970)
    When people realise this, and stop buying DLC.
  • by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <rodrigogirao@@@hotmail...com> on Thursday November 11, 2010 @03:19AM (#34193974) Homepage

    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.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday November 11, 2010 @03:20AM (#34193976)

    Where a publisher stands to make some money, gamers get screwed.

    Is there a chance to fix this system?

    As long as you approach the world with the attitude that it owes you something, there is no chance to fix the system. You will always be disappointed and feel "screwed".

  • There Is a Chance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by umbrellasd ( 876984 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @03:23AM (#34193992)
    Don't pay for the shit DLC, and Supply and Demand economics will take care of the problem.
  • Re:Yes! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @03:24AM (#34193998)

    Some DLC is great. The Undead Nightmare DLC for Red Dead was practically an entirely new game, and both the Gay Tony & whatever the biker one was called where both great content add ons for Grand theft auto.

  • Let's Be Honest (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cylix ( 55374 ) * on Thursday November 11, 2010 @03:34AM (#34194030) Homepage Journal

    I get the feeling someone is on the war path with video games lately. At least regarding the story trend and I'm not saying I disagree... just saying.

    In any event, the issue isn't even as specific as DLC. Sure, there are plenty of awful examples and I would very much like to point the finger at Halo. Whole sections of multi-player simply disappear if you do not purchase the down-loadable map packs. This isn't even close to misrepresentation, but more like bandits along the highway. At some point, someone thought it would be a really good idea to cripple your current style of play unless you pay a few dollars. I believe someone's soul is headed toward damnation for that one.

    Ignoring fire and brimstone, let's get back to the broader and real issue at hand. Bad game or bad content for purchase are not really the issues either. The fact is if we had more honest reviews floating around this would be a no brainer. The truth is we as gamers have been sold out countless times by these fan fiction writers who like to pretend they are writing a game review. In my personal experience, Red Dead Redemption was pretty much the worst multiplayer experience I have had in a while. It however managed to have a lot of good reviews. A more recent example of abuse of a good name is COD Black Ops. This is a good example of how to take something that wasn't terribly and just twist it into a hellish house of mirrors reflecting on a shadow of it's former self.

    Having been in the broadcast world for a good while in the past there are important lessons I did learn there. What I happen to like or dislike may not necessarily be in tune with the populace at large. However, I would like to point out that the current early trend with user reviews seem to favor my opinion http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/call-of-duty-black-ops?rating_login=1 [metacritic.com].

    I believe what has happened with both retail games and addon pay content is something very simple. It appears to be much easier to simply spend oodles on marketing and advertising rather then produce something original. (Well, original is probably a bad term... how about enjoyable). It cannot be argued these triple a titles have a fairly large budget, but in my horrid and unimportant opinion is that publishers have gone the McDonalds route. Seriously, how else would you sale poison the the people of our great nation.

  • Re:Yes! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Starteck81 ( 917280 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @03:43AM (#34194060)
    Considering how well Zynga is doing selling virtual items in games like Farmville, Mafia Wars I suspect that we will only see this trend grow.
  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @03:50AM (#34194084)

    Beautiful Katamari

    It was a very short game, and the DLC was available from day1, completing the game. IIRC the original game was pretty low priced though, so instead of looking at it as being ripped off and getting nickel-and-dimes for the full game, you could say that they were offering a half-game for half price and you could buy the rest if you liked it.

    I'm not sure, this is a big grey area. When am I not getting a full game I've paid for? When am I genuinely paying for extra content? How long *should* a game be?


  • by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Thursday November 11, 2010 @03:58AM (#34194124) Homepage

    I bought Fallout 3 when it first came out. Had a blast, but was occupied at the time and didn't buy the DLC. In the intrim the GOTY edition came out, with all the DLC, for $50. Only problem is, the DLC hasn't dropped in price -- and there is $50 of it. Now I can either buy $50 of DLC, or $50 for the GOTY edition. Either way they want me to spend $100 on the game, and I can't justify that. Something is wrong here!

    Now I just wait for the GOTY edition to come out.

  • by lostmongoose ( 1094523 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @04:04AM (#34194158)
    You chose to give them your money. They *owe you nothing* other than what you could access out of the box. Unless you're paying a monthly fee, you have no entitlement to anything beyond that. If you are paying a monthly fee and the devs aren't performing as you think they should *stop paying them*.
  • by Squapper ( 787068 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @04:08AM (#34194172)
    As a senior game developer, i can tell you that no game released nowadays is EVER complete. And trying to making a game complete is like trying to write all the digits of Pi. It cant be done, you just have to draw the line somewhere and say "this is good enough". We work until our employers pry our hands from the keyboards and force us work on a new project. Then we sneak back and work a little bit more on the old one either because we are ashamed of the quality or because we love the project. And we HAVE to move on to new projects, otherwise game development would not be economically feasible and there would be no AAA projects such as the ones mentioned in TFA.

    And the point of doing minor DLC is not to make money from it directly. The point is to give a promise to the consumers that there will be DLC shortly, and make them hold on to their copies instead of reselling them, which would bring zero money to the publisher. This is not some theory of my own, it is what our publishers tell us when they are ordering us to do minor DLC. Why they charge so much for stuff that would have done it's job perfectly when released for free is beyond my understanding though.
    It's funny that the example in TFA where the true strategy was most obvious, the DLC for Alan Wake, was where the author was most happy with the product...
  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @04:43AM (#34194268)

    But where do you draw the line? Borderlands released extra content as DLC- some of it was mostly based on existing art assets such as the arena based content, but other DLC had a lot of new content- the zombie island release.

    You could argue that both these should've been in the game at release, you could argue that the arena one should, or you can argue that both are worthwhile bits of additional content.

    The problem is that some people will claim it should all have been included in the game, but then as the game was full of content in the first place - more than a lot of games - then what incentive would there be for developers to create that content in the first place? They'd already made enough for a complete retail release.

    Assassins Creed 2 had DLC which covered a "missing strand" of the storyline, but the missing strand didn't effect the retail storyline- some would argue this is part the game so should be free, but again, AC2 was a far longer, far more detailed game than the vast majority of other games out there- should it really have been free?

    A lot of calls for DLC to be part of the game seem to simply be people just wanting more free shit, a sense of entitlement to something despite much resources having to be invested in that content.

    This isn't to say some DLC is completely unfair, but it's hard to filter out complaints that are valid from those that aren't, and with the line blurred and largely subjective as to what is acceptable as DLC and what isn't then it's not likely to get resolved any time soon. Worse, some of the most succesful DLC in history is MW2's map packs, yet 2 out of 4 maps or whatever are just maps from existing CoD games re-released, despite this it's succesful because people pay for it- if millions of people are buying that crap then what are we to expect? The article complains about just this sort of thing but it's not like content descriptions aren't accurate- it was stated from the outset what is included in DLC content packs like this yet still people pay for it.

    I'd say DLC is often far from a scam, some DLC I've paid for has been well worth it, some of it not so. I think it's perfectly valid- The Orange Box on the 360 had HL2, Episode 1, Episode 2, TF2, and Portal - it would make sense that Episode 3 (if Valve ever release it) is DLC rather than a new release, I certainly don't need a new disc for it. I'd never have expected more from AC2 - I think I certainly got my money's worth from that game, so releasing the extra content as DLC was fine for me.

    The real question has to be when you buy a game, "Does this game have enough content to justify purchase?", if yes, and DLC later comes out, you have to ask the same about the DLC. If it's no to either question yet you buy it anyway, you don't really have much of a leg to stand on to complain- it's your own fault, it's not like there isn't a ton of information out there about how much content each game or DLC pack actually has.

  • by moriya ( 195881 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @04:49AM (#34194290) Homepage

    I can't effectively counter the points you made with regards to what title has done this or that. But I'd like to point out a current example of something similar. It isn't exactly as described. But it is somewhere along that route.

    Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was released earlier in the year and practically on Day 1, there was a "map pack" released. If you were to remove the PC platform from the equation, you could say that this is akin to point #1 to 2nd-hand buyers of the game. Those who purchase BC2 as a used product would not be able to get this map pack, along with 5 others (soon to be 6) released. As a result, a player who do want to play on these maps would have to cough up cash in order to get a feel for it. Even worse so is that there is no way to really try it out to see if it is worth the price.

    As for point #3, DICE is now notorious for this. Their VIP Map Packs 2 through 6 are largely the same, and contains virtually everything that was already seen in-game and was on the game disc. However, they were largely either locked or needed a few additional files in order to fill in the spaces. The community for BC2 has since then coined the term "Mode Packs" as the maps are the same but only its layout are different. It is akin to remaking other content, when these content should have been either finished or released since Day 1.

    I have played the game on the PC end for many months. It is irritating at times that these so-called "new maps" are nothing more than the same thing but just in a different mode. Many of the players in the BC2 community also feel the same as well. We do want new maps but the same maps designed and played differently isn't our definition of "new."

    You say that games are products w/ big teams. I've no issue with that. A game being worked on by a large development team will definitely be working hard to make it as good as possible. However, the growing issue at hand is the lack of content being shipped with the game. More and more games are becoming less complete or less fulfilling because they lack the content that long-time gamers have wanted. PC players are becoming more left out because of how games are being designed today due to the overwhelming market of the console platform. And with DLC, the developers and the publishers are using that option to rake in as much cash as possible in order to keep players playing their games.

    I personally do not mind DLC as a whole, as long as the game itself is fulfilling, enjoyable, and has plenty of things to do in it. But this is not the case any more. DLC is stifling the modding community and the PC players are getting shafted and ignored. The devs and publishers are too narrow-minded to focus on anything else.

  • by VendettaMF ( 629699 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @06:43AM (#34194706) Homepage

    The correct reference point for how long a game should be is "Elite" on the BBC Micro by Braben et al.

  • by LighterShadeOfBlack ( 1011407 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @07:23AM (#34194834) Homepage

    I just wait a year or so for the Gold/Ultimate/GOTY edition of a game which comes with all addons and DLC built-in for £20 or less. Money saved, disaster averted.

  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @07:35AM (#34194860) Homepage

    Or they could not buy the DLC?

    These map packs work on peer pressure. Someone buys it, and pressures their friends to buy it too in order to keep playing. But that also works in reverse. If people start telling their friends "that's a waste of money and I won't buy it", they now have pressure to not use it in order to play with you.

    It's kind of sad how many customers think they're powerless. We're the ones with the money. We have ALL the power in this equation. If we used it intelligently instead of like a bunch of crack addicited morons, the publishers would be begging for mercy.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @08:30AM (#34195052) Homepage

    I've never been a senior game developer, but it looks to me like the real problem is that the industry has decided that time-to-market trumps any and all other concerns. They'd much rather have a bad game in 4 months than a really good game in 12 months.

    The only thing I can figure is that 3 bad games get more revenue than 1 good game, which doesn't make any sense. A bad game picks up a bunch of early adopters who were suckered in by the hype, but within 2 months there's no market for it. A good game can produce good revenue for years - Starcraft sold for years after it was released. So why make bad games instead of good games?

  • Re:Yes! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @08:37AM (#34195094)

    DLC can be good for experimental game ideas. Most of the fallout 3 DLC took place in different settings than the main game

    But Fallout 3 was sold at full price as a complete game. DLC came months after release.

    Some games are being sold in half with DLC being made available 5 minutes after release.

    Now I have no issue when a developer and publisher creates additional content, traditionally this was released as an expansion pack or more recently the phenomenon of "expand-alones" such as ARMA Operation Arrowhead or Fallout New Vegas but when a publisher only sells you half the game and then tries to charge you $10 to see the ending, that's what is wrong with DLC.

  • Re:Yes! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cob666 ( 656740 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @08:52AM (#34195148) Homepage

    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.

    Yes but the ability to play past the conclusion of the primary quest should have been built into a patch instead of requiring the user to pay for DLC just to get the option.

  • by delinear ( 991444 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:07AM (#34195714)

    While it's not something you can set hard and fast rules about, it's usually pretty clear if the DLC is reasonable or not. If you can enjoy the entire game experience without the DLC and are not left feeling like there were big gaps or that you are in some way disadvantaged by not having a DLC map or peiece of equipment, then that's fine. The DLC in that case will live or die on how useful/good it is. Selling half a game with the conclusion as DLC should never be allowed. Similarly putting nag characters directly in the original game who are there to try and pimp DLC should definitely not be allowed, not without the ability to disable that part of their character.

    On this last point, I thought Dragon Age was bad enough, placing a character in my camp who, when spoken to, would encourage me to buy a certain DLC mission. That position has now been usurped by Fable 3, where there's a character in my sanctuary who tries to sell me DLC from the in game shop almost every time I visit the sanctuary. For those who haven't played the game, the sanctuary is effectively your options menu, map and inventory combined - yes that's right, they nag me to buy content EVERY TIME I USE MY INVENTORY. I could even live with this horrific abuse if they just told me about each new item once and then left it at that, but so far there's only one item of DLC (a suit so you can dress up as a dog, I kid you not) and yet Jasper feels this is worthy of mentioning constantly. I should have known better than to expect anything different from Lionhead, of course - these are the same people who, in Fable 2, took key items required to obtain all the achievements for the main game and made them only available through DLC purchases (in contravention of MS's policy that all achievements in a release game must be obtainable without the need to buy DLC - they claimed that it wasn't in breach of the rules because a friend could gift you the items you needed, but of course that friend needed to get them from somewhere and ultimately someone would have to buy them).

  • by delinear ( 991444 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:46AM (#34196140)
    What's the difference between a community divide of those who are rich and poor and a community divide of those who have countless hours to sink into grinding for rare item drops and those who have very little gaming time and they want to enjoy it and not spend it grinding and still failing to keep up because students and people without jobs can spend all week on the game? As for the two profile idea, that's all well and good but if all your friends joined the pay as you go server, you'd either have to find a new bunch of friends or join their server but now without even the option to get the items from drops. Personally I don't think items that give a genuine advantage should ever be allowed for sale in multiplayer games, but if they are I'd rather see a mixed system where people who are cash rish and time poor and people who are time rich and cash poor can compete on a roughly even keel.
  • Re:Yes! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tomsk70 ( 984457 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @11:03AM (#34196318)

    Just like when people will realise The Sims is pointless, Tagamotchi's are pointless, and ipods are a rip off, right?

  • Re:Yes! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ironchew ( 1069966 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @11:45AM (#34196810)

    I wonder if this whole vote with your wallet even works anymore...

    It never has worked. Even with a novelty like video games -- if gamers aren't in direct control of the development cycle (console manufacturers see to it that the hardware is as locked-down as possible), we take what the centralized industry gives us. Really, the only way to "vote" is not to get the console in the first place and develop a competing game on an open platform. That will get their attention.

Love may laugh at locksmiths, but he has a profound respect for money bags. -- Sidney Paternoster, "The Folly of the Wise"