When the first rounds of DLC came into the gaming industry, people split into the hating, loving and uncaring camps, with some denouncing the clear money grubbing scheme and others defending this new way of extending the shelf life of a given title. For me, it’s never been that simple. I’ve always seen DLC from the point of view of its worth. Is it worth getting it, will it add something to the experience and most importantly, is the price right for it?
As we stand now in the industry and with the ever-growing market for episodic and cut up games, we’re never getting rid of DLC. In fact, if we consider digital sales platforms like Steam, GoG and GamersGate, then every game out there is DLC, Downloadable products. We’re sliding more and more into an era where retail physical copies become extinct and everything becomes Downloadable Content.
But even if that is true, the development, marketing and release of DLC (and I’m referring to add-on content in this) could see better practices, something that works more in the consumer’s favour. As my friend Timlah always tells me, “you only see the side of the consumer,” and it’s true, I do. Because I am one and because I feel developers should respect their audience, their fans and some of the current trends in DLCs feel disrespectful.
George Carlin once said: “One of the things I like to do in my shows is complain, it’s kind of a motif for me, complaining…so this next piece of material, like most good ideas is fairly simple. It’s just a list of people who oughtta be killed!”
As you know from reading many of my opinion pieces, I also like to complain. I don’t like to accept things as is and I will strive to make even a tiny change in the world, even if it’s just in changing your mind or opening it to new ideas—and my own in the process. “Think Better, Think Bigger,” is my motif.
Over the past couple of years, along with the rise of crowdfunding I’ve seen another trend emerge in gaming, one that will slowly reach the same level of shenanigans: Episoding Gaming. Episodic Games come in seasons, their story split into multiple chapters with their own price tag and of course the usual season pass, and over the course of potentially many years.
It used to be that episodic games were the domain of independent developers, those struggling to make enough money to meet development costs. The episodic nature would let them earn money on small bits of the game while they work on others. It also helps them by splitting the development into defined chunks, something useful I believe when they’re juggling day jobs with the game development responsibilities.
But while that is still somewhat true, there is a growing trend of full-time and highly successful game studios releasing games in the episodic format as well. Some have done it for ages and see no need to change now, as the business models suits them best, knowing how to take advantage of new episode releases to boost sales. Others use “episodic” as an excuse to cover up a delayed development and some just want to milk the trend as much as they can. Then there are the episodic titles released by major publishers, those that have no need for this type of content save for feeding the marketing fires. This last one has another side effect that I hope doesn’t become a common occurrence: releasing full games as episodic, splitting it up haphazardly in “post-production.” Continue reading Episodic Nightmare – The worrying trends of Episodic Gaming