Cheaper Digital Games Sounds Great But What About DLC?
We’ve recently been hearing a lot about digital downloads as the world moves more and more towards a persistent online environment, something likened to Web2.0 but with gaming.
It’s kind of weird of that a persistent online environment has led to actual persistent online environments within the games we play, as if there’s some clever metaphor or comparison to be drawn or something. But I digress.
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A short while ago a few big names threw around the announcement that digital games would be cheaper in future, as part of their prime directive. One of these big names is Microsoft. They said that their online Games Marketplaces for Xbox 360 and Xbox One would be seeing more sales and cheaper offerings; an obvious reaction to the massive amounts of success Sony are enjoying with their PlayStation Plus subscriptions, and how Games for Gold simply cannot keep up.
Nonetheless, having seen the likes of Steam Sales and Humble Bundles on PC, it’s great to see that consoles are finally joining in; especially now when so many of you guys are finally on uncapped and have an acceptably decent line speed to work with. (Thank you ANC?)
Thing is, as much as digitally downloaded games sound great because you have them stored on your hard drive and therefore don’t need to fiddle with discs when you want to play something, there are some very obvious drawbacks such as hard drive space and, in some cases, the inability to play offline — something I’ve experienced with Alan Wake recently.
And it’s not as if digital download offerings have not had sales before. Which then leads me to my next point. See, the thing about most sales is that it’s all good and well to have the games discounted but sometimes you want the game and its respective downloadable content as well. This is okay for when there’s a publisher sale or something similar on, where all DLC is discounted to an extent as well. However the proposed cheaper digital game offerings doesn’t seem to account for cheaper DLC.
I can pull quite a few examples of this from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace, but let’s use the Batman: Arkham City example since I went ahead and used the header image above. Arkham City has depreciated over time and is now available for around R150-R200 (region-dependent) on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. However all downloadable content available for the game is still listed at its release price, which means that you’re effectively paying double for the game with its DLC.
In cases where this can be taken to an extreme, let’s look at Borderlands 2: The game costs around R200-250 and the season pass which includes four DLC packs for the price of three, costs around R200-250. Effectively if you want the full Borderlands 2 experience, including all DLC packs, you’re going to end up paying more than that since not all DLC is covered with the season pass.
That is ridiculous.
I can understand to some extent that DLC releases after a game so it’s not as old, and many developers rely on DLC sales for various reasons including patching a game (ahem) so this is motivation enough to keep the DLC priced as normal for a bit longer. But I mean come on now, if I go back to the Alan Wake example, that game is a good few years old now and yet the DLC for it has barely depreciated if at all. Surely after the first year or two they can drop the price a bit?
The thing is, it’s most unregulated because people tend to care about the cost of the games themselves, often disregarding DLC because they either won’t play it or don’t mind paying extra for it because it’s more game for a bit more money. But don’t developers see that if they drop the price a bit, they can attract more customers? The DLC has already made money for them after the first year of its existence, surely. After that it should be about promoting the game and that requires some sacrifice on their parts.
In order for cheaper digital games to work, DLC must also be cheaper, or else what is actually the point if we can just wait for a sale and get it all at once?