Sunday, 20 May 2012

Paid DLC - and how it's damaging public relations

 It's amazing how quickly the gaming industry changes over the years, it has now been thirteen years since Quake 3 released, one of the first games to require a '3D Graphics Accelerator', and about as long since video games have been played competitively online. The advancement in these trends, however, is nothing that I'm against – in fact I'm glad.

What I am against in the recent gaming trends is the advancement of so-called 'DLC' which is, essentially, just another way of scrubbing the money from the people who have already paid copious amounts of money for your game, and it's damaging the public relations of the company. DLC may be good for business temporarily, but when people realise that the developers/publishers are essentially selling a game that is intrinsically unfinished, and you need to buy the remainder of the content, the players are going to want to play the game that they have already paid for in full – but they're going to be more careful when buying games from the company in the future.

DLC is slowly creeping up in price too – I could forgive the DLC if it were like Croteam's 'Legend of the Beast' DLC for 'Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter', which comes with three new versus maps, a new survival map and three additional missions for the cooperative campaign – all for £3.99 ($6), but they're not. They're all from publishers who leave out the additional content, then release it steadily, in packs of five for £15 ($25), which is more than half of what I paid for the game (that's right Call of Duty, I'm looking at you).

It says a lot when the additional content costs more than the game itself.

What has the DLC changed for me? I won't be buying another 'Call of Duty' game because every time I do I feel like I have been cheated out of my money by withdrawn content which ends up having you removed from games if you don't have the content – and I'm sick of buying new content for the game that I paid more money for than pretty much every other release that year. The result? I won't be buying Black Ops 2 or any other future instalments in the series.

"Call of Duty: Black Ops 2" graphically looks more of the same, and will no doubt have even more, and more expensive  DLC.

The reason I've been buying them thus far though, is that because up to 'Call of Duty: World at War', they offered completely free DLC – at least for PC, in the form of game updates – and you'd get a few new maps, for free, in a bug-fixing patch; it added longevity to the game, something that the 'Call of Duty' games today are severely lacking. If it weren't for the free 'DLC' styled updates that came out for the older games, I wouldn't have bought these half-baked excuses for games anyway.

This is not how you do public relations.

However, before the thought enters your brain that 'nobody releases free stuff nowadays', that's not true. The Rebellion game 'Sniper Elite V2' released a patch not so long ago that added additional maps to it's 'Team Deathmatch' multiplayer mode, a mode exclusive to the PC version of the game – all free of charge – and the PC version cost far less than the console version too. Now, I don't know if this is some clever façade that Rebellion are putting on their players before they can finally spring their budget-breaking extra content on us later, but the fact that they even released any additional maps for free is something that guarantees that I will buy more games from Rebellion.

Sniper Elite V2 gets some brand new multiplayer maps with the latest patch.
This is how you do public relations.

Also, it's included with a bug-fixing patch – they are mending their game that has balancing and graphical issues. Now this wasn't intended to be a full attack on the 'Call of Duty' series, but when was the last time that you saw a patch released to drastically influence the balance and spawning system in the game? That's right, it'd probably be around 'Call of Duty: World at War', and while I'm not judging them for knowing how to make the money at the least cost, Rebellion are at least trying to make their game a more enjoyable experience for those who bought and want to play it, unlike 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3' where they pretty much have left it as it was at release - poor netcode, low quality graphics and terrible balance.
Call of Duty still runs on the same engine as Quake 3 Arena.
 Free additional content is a dying race, and the idea of removing content from the initial release of the game to plaster it on as DLC the following month is a rising one. I don't want to be buying half-baked games for full-price if I'm just going to be advertised at to buy more stuff that either have been part of the game in the first place, or released fairly cheap as a tactic to extend longevity and secure the buyers next purchase.

Roll off the Activison games, roll on the Rebellion. I know who's earned my money.


  1. Great article. I can remember playing the first CoD games for the PC. Each new game got less and less attention as the developers started concentrating on the Xbox versions. I guess that's where the money is...

    I was also surprised you didn't reference Valve or Blizzard in your article. They are probably the best of the best when it comes to patches that not only fix bugs and balance issues, but add content.

    Thanks for the article! Cheers,

    1. No problem, hope you liked the article. I'm also surprised I didn't mention Valve - I'm one of those 'Steam fanboys' people keep talking about. But yeah, the shift of Call of Duty to console was sad, but ah well - tons of better games on PC now.

  2. I mostly agree with the opinion of this article and wish DLC would be handled better by everybody and not pull the kind of crap that they pull with CoD.

    But I have to argue with the subtitle on one of those images stating "Call of Duty still runs on the same engine as Quake 3 Arena." This is just flat out wrong. When they made Call of Duty 2 they licensed the id Tech 3 engine. Since then they have modified the engine to include all sorts of new shit and optimize for their own purposes. The engine has changed drastically and is a far cry from "the same engine" at this point.

    1. OK, I'll admit it was a bit sensationalist with the engine stuff. But yeah, point still stands.