We have talked about this before, taking money from the consumer once a game has been sold. Way back when Microtransactions were finding their feet in the main console market, and more recently when Shadow Of Mordor a single player game announced that it will also have loot boxes. As would be clear from reading those articles, we tend to think that the devs deserve the extra money, maybe it’s because some of us work in the IT field and know the ins and out of software development which is similar to game development. As it stands though, DLC are still one of the hottest contested topics in the gaming world today, and as a true gamer, we are never really done with our opinion.
We live in a different time today than we used to a decade or 2 ago. Mobile phones were non-existent, movies were in technicolor, and 30 FPS was the limit for the human eye. A lot has changed since then. Mobile phones are everywhere, movies come in 4K and 3D, and the FPS is nearing the 200 mark now. You know what hasn’t changed, the price of a standard AAA game.
A blockbuster video game which is supposed to have state of the art graphics, needs to be perfectly optimized for the platforms it’s releasing on and it needs to touch the 100-hour gameplay mark, ohh and it needs some top-notch voice acting too. All this for 60$ or as the Indian version goes 2500-3000 INR. In the book, Blood, Sweat and Pixels, the author Jason Schreier makes a rough calculation of a budget during game development. Taking the average salary of every person involved in the game as 10,000 $ per month, he estimates how much a game could cost. A team of 6 people who sit down and develop a game for 6 months, need 360,000 $, for a 10 person team who work on say a Shovel Knight for a year, its 1.2 Million dollars. Imagine the cost of games that are published by Ubisoft, EA and Activision who employ 100’s of artists, dev’s, writers and so on and this is not including the cost of licensing, renting, resource bills, taxes and what not. And yet when that game comes out, it needs to be sold at 60$ a pop, or else you might be voted as the most evil company in the country.
The budget is not the only thing that has changed of course. Across the documented history of video games, you would see how their scopes have increased over the years. From dark narrow dungeons to sprawling open worlds. The visions have been expanded and delivering the same thing over and over again is not an option (take Assassin’s Creed for example), a game should do something new, do it better and do it bigger than its predecessors, or else it’s just another dime a dozen video game relegated to the Internet meme hell for the 5 seconds of attention it will get. How would the dev team add that extra city which is half built, but not ready to be shipped and yet the release date is upon us. What about that awesome quest they came up with a little too late in production, which absolutely needs to be in the game. Finally all those shaders and costumes that the art team has been working on, isn’t it right to share them with the world, and get paid for them too.
Attention spans, are another thing that have changed over the years. Earlier we had to wait for months before the next big budget release happened. We had to ration our game times so we can tide over the time until the Winter releases happened. That has changed now, there is a big AAA release almost every month; summer and Winter breaks may have major releases every week. How do you as a game developer, keep the customer interested a week after your game has released. What about the time, when he is finished the main campaign. How do you keep him glued to the game, 6 months later if you do not promise him that you will have new content ready by that time. Hell, how do you ask for the gamer’s money without promising him content for the next 6 months?
The truth is times have changed. Games have changed with them. DLC have always been a part of the video game experience (think the Lord of Destruction Expansion for Diablo 2, or the Age of Conquerors Expansion for Age Of Empires 2), and they have changed too. A lot of gamers though haven’t. They still think their 60$ should get them the same experience they got a decade earlier, when the same 60$ don’t have the same value (and in most cases, they do get more than what they used to get from their 60$).
Of course, sometimes, the companies don’t help themselves either, remember the Capcom disk locked DLC for Street Fighter, or the Horse Armor DLC for Elder Scrolls. But for every one of these examples, there is the Witcher 3 expansion packs, the Mass Effect 3 Ending DLC, the Reaper of Souls for Diablo 3, and the Taken King for Destiny. DLC and expansion packs which made the games objectively better than in their original form.
DLC when done right, will always compliment your experience. That’s what it stands for
Downloadable Content with ‘Content’ being the key word.
Quid Pro Quo is an attempt by Gamers’ Nation and IndianNoob to encourage dialogue between the different gaming communities in India. An on-going collaboration where both sites take sides on topics which are some of the most hotly contested in the gaming community. And as a show of camaraderie, we host their article, while they host ours. Give And Take. Quid Pro Quo.
This article was Contributed by IndianNoob