Welcome to Get Mad Monday with Aaron. I’m going to attempt to write up something bugs me every Monday. I’ll attempt to make it gaming related but general things may be written about, depending on what’s on my mind.
The term ‘vote with your wallet’ has been thrown around a lot in regards to video games. Around the time that yearly releases such as Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed hit store shelves, people complaining are often hit with the phrase. The vast majority of sales for these games are not from those that will hear the message anyway. From my experiences, Season Passes are niche. Non-gamers are happy with the content they’ve purchased, with the niche market of the hardcore being more interested in playing additional content.
As a whole, I think that DLC the best thing that online access has given game systems. When done with users in mind, the addition of new content on an existing game engine is good for developers, publishers and gamers. While yearly releases are still something that will draw a crowd, that a game with a longer development cycle or with a smaller team who are passionate about continuing their work on a project can let you enjoy more without large distribution costs should be seen as a good thing. I recognise as I write this that I am primarily thinking of added gameplay, levels and maps. I wish to make my opinion known that paid-for skins as DLC are terrible no matter the circumstance. Maybe it’s to pump up a season pass with short-comings but I can’t see how changing something’s textures could provide value for money. These should be free, maybe as incentives to bulk buy content. Hell, if they’re going to put a RockStar Energy Drink as a skin the publisher should PAY YOU for putting that in the game you’ve already paid your hot cash for.
The ‘Thirstcutter’? More the like ‘Thirstcutthisthefuckout’
Unfortunately the cutting of content from a game just to be released as DLC is quite evident; especially when the DLC releases just days after the main game comes out. I remember Batman Arkham Knight’s first DLC was included as a ‘Day One’ incentive to preorder or buy the game as early as possible. On reflection it’s a pretty shitty move of Warner Bros., but honestly it’s something that we all pretty much expect of them at this point.
Arkham Knight released on PS4 and Xbox One in June of 2015, with the broken PC version also releasing but getting refunded and pushed back after being revealed as an unstable and broken product. Before the game was released however, the Season Pass for the game was up for preorder. It wasn’t revealed until months after you could spend money on the Season Pass what the DLC content included would be. WB revealed that they would include 6 months worth of DLC. But what did this actually mean? Public outcry was the only reason they revealed the type of content included in the Season Pass. They expected people to pay AU$59.95 on faith. Ignoring that the content has been described as lacklustre, that they hadn’t informed people that some months all they’d get would be skins for Batman is pretty disheartening.
Well during November, 5 of the 6 months through I calculated that all up purchasing individual content up to that point was just over AU$30. This was a AU$60 Season Pass that only had one more scheduled update, and while the final DLC was arguably the best from what was offered I see NO incentive to get the Season Pass before this point, let alone preorder it. Once it’s out you can save a good amount of money than buying each piece of DLC individually, so fair enough but you won’t have access to most of that content at that point. Hell, you’ll likely have things to do with the base game by the time the DLC arrives. I don’t care how big a fan of a series you are, if there’s ZERO incentive to preorder, why? Like, at least wait until the game is out or the first piece of DLC is available. But in the case of Batman there was nothing for preordering the Season Pass. Mario Kart 8 at the very least offered skins for Yoshi and Shy-Guy exclusively to people who bought their Season Pass. That’s a level of incentive to buy it all at once. It’d likely be cheaper to buy all of Batman:AK’s additional playable challenges individually and ignoring skins than to buy the Season Pass.
Doing in the math in my head, I can’t see this adding up
EDIT: After publishing this I added up the cost of all the DLC bought individually. This comes to a total of AU$88.95, with AU$43.35 being new playable content (not skins, challenge packs, etc).
EA’s Star Wars Battlefront released in Australia at RRPAU$99.95. Most retailers who were pricing competitively sold the games at a price between AU$64-$79. The Season Pass, digital only, sells for AU$75.95. That’s more than what most gamers paid for the game. Even ignoring the sales price, are EA saying that all the DLC will have 76% of the original game’s worth of content? Are they looking at the man-hours that DICE have used post-Battlefield 4 and thought “Well if the dev team is going to spend that much time working on the game post launch, we need to cover that cost” which is arguably something they didn’t factor into the costs of BF4’s season pass? But that time spent patching was just fixing a product that was unfit for sale. And considering the complaints about Star Wars’s lack of content, which they charge this much on top of the original game retailing at full RRP is disgraceful.
At the end of the day, saying no to what you don’t believe in is the most effective way of delivering a message. Additional content for video games is a fairly niche market, having talked to the casual shooter purchaser, there is little desire to spend more on the games they have as they are happy enough with the base product. Hold off on Season Passes. See what they’re offering. The Season Pass will be on offer after you’ve finished the main content or feel like playing more. Hell, Battlefront had FREE additional content promised, so why buy the Season Pass until you see if you still like the game with a new map to play on. It sets a worrying standard for what publishers can get away with. But if you say “no” to buying the game and/or Season Pass at a value that you see unfair, you can send a message in the future. Unfortunately, it’s probably too late for the games mentioned here.
Try waiting for the Season Passes to go on sale. AU$40 for Batman’s Season Pass still wasn’t great value when they did that discount, but if you’re that diehard of a fan, wait until it comes around again. They will take notice of sales figures spiking at that price and possibly (though unlikely) reflect on that. But honestly, this issue is far more complex than a short blog post like this should cover. I should go into further detail but that’s not what mad people do on Get Mad Monday. I look forward to slamming down more opinions throughout the year and would love to hear your opinions either in the comments or via social media.