Who's To Blame For DLC? That Would Be You

Games are a passion and a hobby for millions of players worldwide. As is clear from even the most cursory glance at the comments on any post here at Kotaku, gamers feel very strongly about their content and its makers.

They are also a business. An exceptionally large, very valuable business. The most recent ESA report [pdf] asserts that US consumers spend over $US25 billion dollars annually on gaming.

So where is the wall where gamers ultimately rebel against adding to those billions? The upcoming release of Mass Effect 3, featuring controversial day one DLC, is proving to be a fertile ground for the argument.

Forbes, a business and economics-focused publication, is not where one would ordinarily look for gaming news. And yet it is there that a contributor makes the economically-focused argument that players have created the seemingly endless problems with DLC themselves, by proving — angry words aside — that they are willing to pay for it:

The truth is, if items like map packs, DLC missions and pre-order bonuses didn't sell, they wouldn't exist. Plain and simple. With each new bold "affront" to gamers, these companies are testing the waters to see just how far they can go with an a-la-carte model. Do you think if no one had ever bought the first Call of Duty map pack, that they would have kept making more? Now the game sells $US1B worth of $US60 copies in two weeks, with every player knowing full well that twelve more maps will be coming in another three packs for an additional $US45.

He then admits that he personally finds the Mass Effect 3 DLC to be a good enough investment to pay for, and that he looks forward to playing it, but concludes:

All this said, there is a limit. Eventually companies will find a breaking point where they are simply taking too much away from games and charging too much on top of the original price so that it drives consumers away. As soon as the numbers stop adding up, the practice will reach a plateau.

The problem is that we're not there yet, and though each new step forward takes us a little closer to that cut-off line, we simply haven't shown these companies that what they've done is truly that hurtful to us. If it was, these products and games simply would not sell, and the practice would be scaled back. And that isn't what's happening.

Every player's individual limits are, of course, in a different place. Some fans will pay nearly any price for their favourite franchise right at launch, while others prefer to wait a year or more and purchase fully collected editions on sale for half price. But even while many will quite accurately shout, "It's not my fault, I haven't played along, I'm not buying it all," it's clear that there's something to the argument that enough players still do.

The $US50 price point for new games fell by the wayside with the rise of the current console generation. $US60 has come to be fully tolerated and $US70 looks not to be the straw that will break the metaphorical camel's back. Where, then, will we see new game prices finally plateau?

Why the Exploitation of Gamers is Our Own Damn Fault [Forbes]


Comments

    If ONLY games were $60 new here.....
    Then most of us wouldnt have cared about dlc

      That's why I buy from the UK. I pre-ordered the BF3 limited edition for $56 with free shipping from there, whereas in Australia it was over $100. The only downside was having to wait a week for it to arrive.

      This. Oh Australia, you frustrate me to no end in that regard...

      We're also paying a hell of a lot more for digital content over other countries. I refuse to purchase anything of the 3DS eShop due to the fact we pay twice what Americans pay, same reason I never buy anything from EB games. Importing and American accounts FTW!

        Dont forget insane delays on content, while DA2 was very average compared to DA:O the almost week long delay that was imposed on Australia was crazy.
        Made me almost regret buying it

    "Who's to blame for DLC? That Would Be *The Same People Who Are To Blame For Making Call Of Duty And Its Map Packs So Very Successful Which May Or May Not Be You*"

    There. I fixed the title so it's much less offensive to my fragile self-esteem and pre-existing societally imposed guilt-issues.

    Well said, Forbes person.

    As always, the Internet commenters are 99% of the noise but 1% of the gaming population.*

    *Statistic made up, but it feels right.

    Hey! I didnt buy the stupid horse armour in Oblivion!

    It's already hit my limit. I've deliberately held off on buying games I knew would have DLC, so I could wait for a version containing all content made for the game. Not only that, the price is much lower (when all things are considered), and it's sometimes released only 12-18 months after the first release.
    Did it with Mafia II, Fallout New Vegas and the Total War franchises.

      I know that feel. Arkham City can wait for me, because I'm in no rush to buy every costume and challenge map and whatever.

    Replace 'DLC' with 'game prices' and you have the Australian version of this article.

      Its sad how accurate that is.....

    $50 for a new game? Try $100+ in Oz.

      Yeah but don't forget we are paying in AUD that is why it costs more, there is a 50 dollar handling fee for them to touch our filthy Australian dollars.

    I personally have never purchased any DLC whatsoever, that's not to say I'm against post-release (as in >1 month after launch) DLC, the model just doesn't appeal to me. I preferred the times when we got expansion packs 6 months to a year after the release of the game for about half the price of the original game with a substantial amount of content, potentially rivalling the original game. It takes 4 or more DLC packs (doesn't apply to all games) to total what I feel is worth a further purchase and by that stage the total price of the DLC exceeds what I'm willing to pay for more content.

    DLC is fine. In fact, I love it. I bought all the Oblivion stuff and used it all extensively (yes, even the horse armor). I got all the Fallout 3 stuff, I bought all the Halo map packs and whatnot.

    But this is just despicable. None of those things I mentioned were there to fill in a plot hole. This Prothean stuff is just a joke. That kind of stuff is fine for DLC but releasing it on day one? That's bullshit.

    If you're defending Bioware/EA on this, you are what is wrong with videogames today and you're helping kill it.

      I love how everyone is freaking out about this, even though nobody has played it. I LOVE IT.

      You people are friggin' psychotic, you are the reason why the general public think gaming is immature.

        When everyone plays it we will realize that we were stupid and we all want to pay money to have a part of the game sold back to us?

        Did you even see Dragon Age 1 and 2?

        The characters you buy are obviously planned to have a place in the game and aren't just added on after the fact.

        You only have to play both the day one DLC then all the DLC they release after to see they are massively different in style, the former being obviously cut out of the game and the latter being additional quests etc after the main story has completed.

    the thought of paying US$50 for a new game in Australia OMG!

    The blame more goes on the companies who made this business model available in the first place and sold developers on the idea that they can now create less content and get more money by locking it away till people play.

    Preorder DLC doesn't count because it's bundled in with the game and usually the price of the game too. Especially nowadays when places like EB force you to get an edition with the extras because they no longer support a "standard edition" (eg Darkness 2 & Street Fighter X Tekken)

      No, the blame is rightly directed to users who gave legitimacy to that business model.

      When the horse armor debacle occurred there was a swath of concerned voices foreshadowing that this would pave the way to a future where publishers/developers would deliberately withhold content and break up games in order to maximize revenue.

      Proponents of this model of course shouted others down declaring that "no one is forcing you to buy DLC". Well you reap what you sow. Do not expect this to get any better in the future.

      Gone are the days where generally a publisher/developer would release this type of pithy content as a gesture of good will to thank users for buying their game, or where they were happy for the community to freely mod and extend the life of their products. These companies are not interested in selling you a complete product, they are solely concerned with up selling a service that generates continuous revenue streams.

    I wouldn't have a problem with DLC so much if it wasn't digitally distributed. That may sound archaic but we can shop around for a the retail full-game and get a good price including options like second-hand and importing, or even wait a while and see if different stores would do discounts for overstock or low sales. Expansion packs of yesteryear got the same benefits and even could be put on your shelf next to all the other stuff you actually own.

    When was the last time you saw a CoD map pack on special because it's stocktake time? Or even where else did you even see that map pack available to buy? Did Namco ever give us the extra Star Wars characters in SCIV for free after the outrage of it already being on disc.

    I don't remember having to buy DLC packs for my Mega Drive games.

    Whelp the only DLC I've ever bought was for a game whose developer was disbanded, so can't help but feel you're not referring to me personally, clearly I should start buying DLC from devs I don't like.

    I got Uncharted Golden Abyss for $50 when I bought my Vita... From DSE no less. Although I did have to ask for a discount and I paid cash.

    "$US70 looks not to be the straw that will break the metaphorical camel’s back."

    "$70 U.S. dollars = $65.22 Australian dollars"

    Lowest Retail Price (Mass Effect 3) = $99 Australian Dollars.
    ($106.26 American Dollars.)
    [Price is for normal XBOX360 edition, JB HiFi pre-order.]

    Cry me a fucking river America.

    Don't look at me, I don't think I've ever bought a game with day 1 DLC that takes an important chunk out of a game. Only DLCs I've ever bought were ones that added content after the game was released (Borderlands and Magicka immediately come to mind).

    I dont buy DLC, a load of wank if you ask me.

    Haha this is exactly what I've been telling people. So I agree completely.

    If only people stop buying dlc, REGARDLESS of how legitimate it is. I also think the excuse "I buy DLC to support the IP" is not the way to go. Donate if you must but don't support your favourite game by supporting DLC.

    This same argument can be applied to DRM. Developers are testing the water and pushing the boundries once in a awhile to see how far they can go. I can't believe there are people defending the ludicrous DRM put in by Capcom and Ubisoft in some previous games.

    I'd be fine with paying a small amount extra for Day One release DLC - if the games we get through digitial download were at the same price as what EA and others charge US and EU customers.

    Price parity just isn't going to happen as, like Apple, they know that if we want their product we'll pay their prices - just like the article concludes about DLC content :(

    The problem with DLC isn't that it exists - there's huge potential there (although 0-day DLC is outrageous) - its that publishers insist on charging orders of magnitude more than the value the content adds.

    Look at things like Oblivion's horse armour or MvC3 and Mortal Kombat's extra characters - each one costs around 10% of the full game's price yet adds far less than 10% more content (and certainly didn't cost anywhere near 10% of the development budget to create).

    Yeah, ok sure, consumers who keep paying these ridiculous prices certainly aren't helping, but until publishers (and lets remember that its almost always the publisher - not the developer - who is to blame here) can understand the concept of value for money, nothing is going to change. (so don't go holding your breath, folks)

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