Developers Face A No-Win Situation With Downloadable Content
I've been thinking about it. There's just no way out for developers...gamers have them painted into a corner concerning downloadable content.
But first, let's be clear- I'm just as annoyed as anyone that publishers can - and do - charge for content we probably should've received on the disc in the first place. The advent of downloadable content aka DLC is just too attractive from a business standpoint, you know? "Sure, we can release the game and then charge more to add onto it; damn good money-making opportunity, boss!" But for the most part, I do not believe developers intentionally leave out content for the sake of raking in more bucks. I'm not jumping on that bandwagon.
Look, examine this from all sides: Firstly, developers - basically all developers - are gamers, too. And in speaking to many of them over the years, there's one trait that ties them all together, and I should think it's painfully obvious. They want to create the best game possible. They really do. Hence, if they want a game to have such-and-such content and they've got the time and resources to put it in, it'll go in. Publishers don't have quite as much pull over this process as some of the more skeptical and cynical gamers seem to think, and I've heard designers verify this in the past.
Secondly, the game makers in this case are in a no-win situation. Even if the DLC is fantastic and free, you will inevitably find people who complain that it should've been in the game in the first place. Then if you charge at all, those complaints increase in number and volume. Then, if you charge even more and the DLC isn't up to snuff, well, prepare for the windfall. And in the latter case, I would agree that we have every right to go, "Hey, this extra content blows and it so not worth $15." And that is a well-documented, ongoing problem this generation. Then you've got the on-disc locked content that has ignited yet another raging controversy.
Thirdly and finally, another part of the aforementioned no-win situation is the position developers often find themselves in: While the publisher can't dictate every step of the design process (as I said before), they can still make requests and even a few demands, and that has to be weighed against what the fans and consumers desire. It's essentially the epitome of the "between a rock and a hard place" saying. I should add, however, that I haven't finished a game this generation and said, "This was missing something and I didn't enjoy it." If it wasn't very good, that was one thing. But incomplete...? I'm sorry, I haven't seen that too often.
In the end, there's just no winning this battle. If there's any extra content at all, developers will inevitably face accusations and skepticism, regardless of the quality of that content or the intention behind it. It seems not a single gamer is willing to accept the possibility that maybe, just maybe, a team made a great game, got everything they wanted in it, got a lot of great responses from fans, and decided to issue more great content. ...no, that'd just be too tame and uncontroversial.
4/16/2012 9:22:01 PM Ben Dutka