With DLC clogging up Marketplaces as far as the eye can see, The Apathetic Gamer discusses their impact on our gameplay experience and whether we’re actually getting everything we believe we’re owed with from money.
Has everyone seen Mad Max? Despite this movie’s ridiculous and offensive message that women are actually just as capable of things as men are (ridiculous, am I right?), it’s an action packed thrill ride with just enough social commentary for me to make a tenuous introduction where I reference it.
In the movie, Immortan Joe temporarily leaves his lair where he milks the teats of happy people with the privilege of being near his prestige, and pours some of his vast reserves of water on his radiation damaged population, who, in kind, revere him as a god for the occasional gifts he gives them to alleviate some of their benign misery.
As I watched this scene, I was struck with how similar this is to how gaming developers treat their consumers. Well, that’s a bit of a lie, I was actually pre-occupied with trying to get the popcorn piece out of one of my molars, and instead thought about this stretched metaphor when I wanted to write a blog about how much downloadable content (DLC) annoys me. Still, the message and (more importantly) the effort is there.
In the gaming industry, companies such as Activision, EA and Bungie leave their lair, where they milk gamers’ back sweat from the full blooded version of whatever sequel they felt like releasing that Christmas, to go and be benevolent gods. This results in the pouring out of thing such as more ‘inventive’ Call of Duty map packs and absolutely anything that they think can make more money out of Dead Space 3.
In the eyes of the checked shirt, soft shoe wearing video game making elite – We are the radiation ravaged peasants begging for more of their drips of product.
At least, that’s how they see the world of DLC; a privilege. A good natured bonus. But it isn’t. What the fuck kind of planet are they living on?
It is not a kind gift to desperate gamers to reward them with an £8 add-on which puts in a map or short story the developer thought was too shit to put in the original. In the past, people have been expected to pay for meaningless pixelated items as trivial as outfits, power ups, and slightly fucking different gun designs. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has so far released three pieces of DLC, giving you 12 more multiplayer maps to run around in and pretend that you’re happy with your life. One of these, Havoc, is currently priced on the Xbox Store at £15. £15. £15 on top of what you’ve already paid.
Take one of my favourite games; Batman: Arkham City. If you enjoy wasting the time God gave you on this earth as much as I do, a big part of this game is collecting Riddler Trophies. However, at points in this game some of these trophies aren’t just blocked from you because you can’t quite use the remote batarang properly, they are blocked from you because you haven’t bought the DLC to play as a character who can access them. What kind of unholy slap in the face is this?
“We appreciate your custom in buying our subpar sequel for £45, however we don’t appreciate it enough to give you full access to a map you paid for with your own human money. Now try to pretend the Clayface boss battle isn’t the worst thing in the world.”
I don’t order a burger to get 3/4’s of a burger, and the option of paying extra to get the other quarter, only a slightly less tasty quarter probably rubbed through the kitchen fryer’s ass.
You are not rewarding me by charging me to play more of a game I already paid £45 to play on my £350 console. Much in the same way I am not rewarding you by urinating on your face when you ask me to borrow my hand held fan.
This all came to a head this last month, when noble game developer Bungie announced it would treat fans of its massive title Destiny to a little, forty-fucking-pound, treat. The perks (identified by a journalist who gives more of a shit than me) is a narrative extension, some rough sort of sequel to previous DLC and an expansion of gameplay features. It will be a huge change to the game, which begs the question, why are gamers paying to make up for how shit it was?
If I may be a little extreme for a second – this is almost akin to paying for a plastic surgeon to go to plastic surgeon school after they absolutely savaged your nose job.
This is offensive in two ways.
- It treats the gamers who made the games online environment such a thrill to play in like the kind of abused puppy who already suffered 55 quids of abuse, only to want another 40 quid more, despite the RSPCA’s best efforts.
- It just makes you think WHAT THE FUCK ELSE HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?!
The multi-billion dollar company that used to make Halo sequels is now so non-fussed about originality it doesn’t even make sequels anymore, unless sequels translated into DLC counts in their eyes. Seriously, there are 24 individual DLC packs for the Halo series, which the exception of Combat Evolved, ODST and Spartan Assault. They’re almost exclusively for multiplayer map packs as well. Who even needs to buy this? It’s now becoming the trend to persuade gamers into buying add-ons with so little reward for cost that it would make a bet on Corbin Bleu to become the most famous cast member of High School Musical feel reasonable.
Granted, Destiny is trying to bring the MMORPG to the console, something no-one ever fucking asked for, but every expansion does not justify the cost of a new game when, I think we can all agree, it just isn’t one. World of Warcraft’s counterpoint against this is that the big, expensive expansions happen three years apart, and aren’t used as pocket milkers with the sole purpose of making up for a shit first release.
DLC is the excuse to stop being original. The more we buy for one game – the less anyone has to make an effort to create a new one. And that has led us here, to the point where developer best known for making disappointing, but at least original sequels to an original idea can’t even be bothered to do that anymore. They would rather charge us up the arse for another dollop of water on our radiation burned faces.
This might be a little bit audacious – but why don’t game developers start selling finished products?
Imagine a world where your £55 product is worth £55, and not just £55 because that’s the price some slim guy in a suit who hasn’t played a video game since Mafia Wars said they should be? After this, after taking the time to finish a game properly, maybe if developers want to do more they can make a new game with the satisfaction of knowing that their previous effort was all they could give – and not what they wanted to give to meet a Christmas release date and then start charging you more for the leftover bargain bin scraps?
GUEST BLOGGER: The Apathetic Gamer
“The Apathetic Gamer is a journalist and gamer who cares so little, he writes about it in an impassioned rage. He is also aware of the hypocrisy.”