But it’s not the publishers who are being greedy; no, it’s the gamers. Thanks to the shortsightedness of a few penny-pinchers, very few people are truly able to appreciate the upside to paying more for your games. In fact, on-disc DLC and other similar services are a stepping stone that will lead to a new generation of great games and great gaming.
“But Lem,” I can hear you saying already, despite what my neurologist tells me. “On-disc content and day-one DLC has no reason not to be included in the game already. How could that possibly lead to better games?”
First off, shut up. I paid a ton for these pills, and I expect them to at least make you all sound a little less whiny. Secondly, it’s such a simple answer that even a grade-schooler could grasp it: the more money a developer has, the better their games will be.
I’m going to throw some big concepts out here, so bear with me. Game development is a process that runs entirely on money. The more money a developer has to throw around, the more they can put towards a project. This leads to things like bigger production values, larger set pieces, more detailed graphics, better voice-actors, and more epic music. Why else do games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto get consistently high reviews after multiple iterations? Money, dear boy.
In other words, adding more money to a game is like injecting it with a cocktail of awesome mixed with some kick-ass. Unfortunately for developers, the costs needed to make these insanely good games are constantly going up. Even EA, with all of their million-selling franchises, has been consistently losing more money than they’re making since this generation began. Naturally, this means developers have to ask gamers to pay a little extra for their products to guarantee future awesomeness. Sometimes this leads to things like DLC released on day one or content locked on the disc.
Yet for even these meager attempts at raising the price of games, gamers still refuse to pay for them. Gamer entitlement has rapidly grown out of control since the beginning of this generation. “Why should I pay so much to be able to play the games I like?” to paraphrase about 9 out of 10 forum gamers. “I can get the same amount of content in other games for way cheaper.” This may sound sensible and logical on the surface, but asinine comments like these only show just how ignorant these people can be.
Allow me to divulge a valuable piece of wisdom that will clear up this confusion: You get what you pay for. Never in any other medium has this kernel of truth been more evident than in video games.
It’s no real secret that the best services in gaming are the ones that cost the most*. Xbox Live Gold costs $50 for a year of online, but it’s hands down the strongest online of the consoles. Activision released an optional subscription service for Call of Duty last year, but the DLC and fancy stats you get with it make it the most engaging CoD ever. Conversely, this same reason is why nobody takes the smartphone gaming market seriously, or why there is no such thing as a great game that is also free-to-play (don’t say Team Fortress 2. That game was better on Xbox, anyway).
But gamers still insist on being as shrewd as possible, and the developers suffer for this. Companies live and die on the money given to them from gamers, and the less money a company receives, the more likely they are to go out of business and never make games again.
Need I remind everyone about companies such as Midway and Acclaim? Back in the day, these two companies were massive forces in the game industry, and churned out quality game after quality game. So what happened to them? People quit buying their games, and they died.
Everyone suffers when a company goes under. Hundreds of workers are suddenly out of a job in a terrible economic climate filled with competing tech university grad students. They may be lucky if they can land a job pushing out shovelware for the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, gamers may never get the chance to play new installments in their favorite franchises again.
It’s a simple choice, really: Pay publishers the extra money for DLC and guarantee the continuation of our favorite franchises, or stop and watch companies go under faster than a fat, armless kid in a swimming pool. It’s time to give publishers the respect and cash they deserve. Next time you see a game you like confirmed to have a good chunk of its content locked on the disc for you to pay an extra sum on top of the $60 price-tag, pay for it with a smile. A smile and cold, hard cash.
*Unless it’s a PC or Sony product.
About the author: The Lemming is a die-hard follower of the Xbox. He started gaming with the original Xbox, and considers anything that isn’t M-rated and/or a sim racer to be games for children. Although Microsoft has since abandoned him as a target audience with the Xbox 360 and Kinect, he still feels satisfied playing his Halo rehashes and the various multiplats that he could get anywhere else.