There’s still a lot of untapped potential in DLCs (Downloadable Content). Video game companies are doing pretty good things with them today. Continue reading
I received The Walking Dead video game as a Christmas gift from a good friend of mine. Money is a little bit tight around my household, so this was a very welcomed treat. Playing that game was absolutely and completely incredible. Clementine became my daughter. Every decision I made was agonizing, heartbreaking, and so much fun. The Walking Dead was nothing short of GOTY material. Everyone who has played this game will agree with me there.
I’ve been looking forward to this DLC ever since I’ve heard about it. This game had to be something special.
So…. was it?
The story’s broken up into five parts, each can be resolved in about thirty minutes. Each part is loosely connected to each other. The parts occur on different days around the same area: a gas station. Unlike the actual game, the DLC’s story focused on the area rather than the characters within the area. The player was able to see how the area grew and changed. This was different from the original story and entirely unexpected.
The gameplay was unique and a heck of a lot of fun. The five parts were different enough from each other to have their own challenges that was like the challenges in the original game. These challenges were tied intimately to the stories of each part. Revealing any of them would be next to impossible without spoiling the parts, so I won’t do it. But that won’t stop me from gushing for a little bit longer. The challenges worked very well and added so much to the scenes they were part of! Honestly? Some of them sucked me in and made me feel like I was experiencing what the character was. Yes, I was tense and on edge.
There was only one problem that I had with the game. Only one. The parts were too short for me to develop a connection with the characters. Sure, they were written really well and the voice acting was just as good as the original game. The animation had that same cartoony, yet serious, style that’s expected with the series. Despite all of it, I found myself wanting more out of each part than what was presented. So if you go in knowing that and expecting the story to focus on the area rather than on the characters, you will get a lot more out of it.
If you loved the game, you will get a huge kick out of the DLC. I doubt you’ll love the DLC like you loved the game, but that shouldn’t stop you from picking it up. I recommend picking up this DLC!
I’m a believer in free market capitalism. Seriously. I am. It empowers both the customer and the producer. The customer will pay for the products and services they want. The producer will then produce the produce or create the service the customer wants to make money. It’s a symbiotic relationship in that way. Sure, it gets far more complex than that. But when you look at the nuts and bolts of it, this is free market capitalism.
One of the nice complexities of free market capitalism comes into play when the customer no longer wants the product they purchased. They have the option of selling the product. They could do this at a garage sale, advertise it in a newspaper, or go to a resale shop to get rid of it. This option has been around for about as long as products have been sold at shops.
Gamestop came about, filling the need for a video game specific resale business. Sure, they sold new games as well… but it was nice to have a place where gamers could buy and sell used games.
This is where the problem begins. Video game developers didn’t get a cut of the profits when gamers sold their used games off. In a free market system, the video game developer would not see the used video game market as lost profits, but rather would focus on creating quality products within the resources they had. Work with what you have, not with what you want.
The moment video game consoles were equipped with internet connections, developers had a tool to make money off of used games. Sure, they claimed DLCs were there to help expand on the video game… give the gamer more experiences… more levels to go through.. etc. But is that really what DLCs are used for? Really? I’ve lost count of the video games that lets me purchase ammo, guns, lives, etc. I’m left with the impression DLCs are there to help nickle and dime the gamer.
More than that… online passes. They added it to as many games as they could, letting gamers purchase the used games. But they wouldn’t get the entire game unless they would pay the developers a small tribute… err… I mean fee. A small fee. That way, they are increasing their profit margin and tapping into a market where THEY DO NOT BELONG.
What do I mean by that? Why don’t video game developers belong in the used video game market ? They made the game, after all. Heck, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot realized that when gamers purchase used games, they remain invested in the video game industry and are likely to purchase new games. So clearly, they have a stake in used games! So, why don’t they belong there?
Free market capitalism.
Video game developers are not letting the market naturally develop and grow. Rather, they are trying to take control of the market by taking away rights that customers take for granted. It seems straight forward that we can resell anything we purchase. This was because we believed we owned the damned product that we purchased originally. But as it turns out, we do not. When there are things like online passes and DLCs, the game can’t be truly owned by the customer. The proof is when they try to resell it.
If they owned it, then there shouldn’t be a problem with selling it to another person. That person buying the used product should get exactly the same product as the one who originally purchased it.
Does that happen?
Nope. That’s because the company retains a sense of ownership over the product. They can force customers who dare purchased games used to pay them extra to have the same experience as buying it new. And they justify it by calling it “online passes.”
The video game industry is over-reaching here. If they aren’t making enough money to develop their AAA titles, then they should re-think their business model… as it is not working. Their traditional business model is dying, as it is not compatible with the realities of the modern day marketplace. They need to look at the customers and figure out what they want rather than punish customers for what is perfectly reasonable: buy used games.
DLCs are meant to enhance the video game experience, giving the player some extra to enjoy. For example, let’s look back at a classic game like Super Mario Brothers 3.
I loved Super Mario Brothers 3. Out of all the games for the Nintendo, this game was one of my all time favorites. Probably my 2nd or 3rd favorite game of all time. This game had eight challenging worlds, each level unique and exciting. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve played this game and beaten it. Easily hundreds of times. Easily. If Nintendo would have found a way to give me an extra world to play in, I would have gladly paid the extra money for it.
So yeah, that’s what DLCs are meant to be. Adding to the entire experience. Giving the player something new and fun to do.
Is this what is happening with DLCs these days?
There is a strange phenomena occurring in the video game industry called disc locked content. When the gamer purchases the game, there is content on the game disc that is not included in the purchase price. The gamer has to pay extra to have additional portions of the game unlocked.
Capcom did this in 2011 with Street Fighter Tekken X. Capcom included 12 locked characters that the gamer had to pay extra to unlock.
Epic Games did this in 2011 with Gears of War 3. Epic included locked characters, weapon skins, and maps that the gamer had to pay extra to unlock.
BioWare did this in 2012 with Mass Effect 3. BioWare included a locked character and mission that the gamer had to pay extra to unlock.
All the companies listed have reasons for why there was additional content on the disc that was locked. Their reasons were numerous, but seemed to all say they weren’t doing this to be greedy. Let me ask this…
When we purchase a video game, is it reasonable to expect access to everything that is on that very video game? I believe so. When I head to the store to purchase something, I feel it is reasonable to expect to use every feature of the thing I am purchasing. That doesn’t give me unrestricted access to every update the game may have in the future. It seems reasonable to expect, at the very least, full access to the product I am purchasing.
Why are video game companies allowed to do this? Why do they have the right to do this and the consumer is called entitled whiner when they say this isn’t fair?
I believe these questions are important, as we will all have our own take on the answer to them. Whatever answer you may have should influence the games you purchase and how you view the video game industry as a whole.