Pre-order culture and downloadable content – solved!
One of the biggest problems in games is the culture that has developed around downloadable content and pre-order video games. It has completely gotten out of control. These issues are actually two completely separate issues, which have significant overlap. The reason I am linking them is because they both have the same solution, which I will refer to later.
Let’s start with the pre-order. The problem is that you are paying money before receiving a product. It’s a crazy concept. You have no idea what the quality of the product might be. Have you ever played a game that was absolutely garbage? If you haven’t, I wish I was you. Can we change lives? This has nothing to do with this article, I just hate my life. Anyway, I have played really horrible games before. Unfortunately, the first “Two Worlds” and “Cabela’s Big Game Hunter” come to mind. They were both pieces of absolute garbage. Now imagine queuing for two hours in the cold waiting for a game that you have already waited for a year and a half. You paid $ 65 for this game with money you worked hard for. You followed the news of this game from day one. You were absolutely devastated to learn that he was delayed for six months. You are super excited and you drive home. You took the next day off even though you know you need the money, just to be able to play all day with a much-needed day off. You put the game on and let it install. It does its job and you turn it on. Hmm, that’s weird … this doesn’t seem like it happened with the previews. Your controls are a bit weird. A couple of hours later and you’re furious. The game is not just bad, it is bored. It is not interesting and bland. Their missions are weird, the game’s revolutionary aspects are just gimmicks. The story that they promoted as attractive is terrible. The main character has the personality of a wooden board. The game I’m describing is the 2014 disappointment known as Watchdogs. I was excited for this game for a long time. I bought a PS4 to play this game. This was the best case for the next-gen console. The poster boy of why you should upgrade your consoles. I was basically tripping myself to give my money to game developers and publishers. And then it came out. Then all the controversy happened. Turns out the game they showed us at E3, or electronic entertainment expo for those unaware, was running on a very high-end PC. The game we got looked like that game, but it went through the worst Instagram filters in the world.
This shows the problem. Textures are murkier. The lighting is noticeably less real. Shadows are less dynamic. If you look at the lights over the head of the main character in the E3 version, they seem to have real depth, in the PC version they are blurred and painted by the most lazy artist in the world. And that’s the PC! Works with maximum graphics, all functions enabled. I was playing on a console, which wouldn’t even look that good. He could also have been playing with my dad’s glasses or playing a completely different game. I’d sue these guys for false advertising if I knew what that means.
However, seriously, we were promised that the game would look like the one on the left and that it would run on consoles. Let’s tie this to the pre-order. You walked into the store, let’s say in May. The game comes out in November. They are six months of which they have your money and you have not even received a product. Why on earth would a company have the desire to back up their claims of graphics, gameplay, story, or even just technical proficiency if they’ve already given them their money? They know that if you had waited to see reviews of this game before it came out, hopefully you would have saved your money for food and water for your hungry kids. So what do they do? They offer you a shitty level consolation prize in the form of pre-order bonuses. Oh dear, a skin for a weapon, an exclusive pet, oh dear, a level of downloadable content that consists of already created assets. These bonuses are there to trick you into giving up your money, with little to no effort on the part of the publisher or developer to give you something worthwhile. It’s a cheap scam to make sure you’re in their pocket before they have to provide you with something. Seriously, it’s a stupid concept. There is a concept of reservation that bothers me especially.
I’m a huge “Mass Effect” fan. If you ask any of my friends, they will ask you what my favorite things are, it says “Mass Effect”, food and “Mass Effect”. In that order. However, when “Mass Effect 3” was released, they announced a pre-order bonus. A brand new mission that would add roughly 30 minutes of gameplay to the game, as well as a new character to talk to. The best part was that you got it for free just to book! That is incredible! However, as the game got closer to launch, it was discovered that pre-order bonus downloadable content (or DLC for short) was already on the discs that shipped. That meant it was already in the game you just bought. The DLC you just bought was essentially a piece of code that allowed you to access that part of the game. In-game you just bought for the full retail price. That really pissed me off. That is actively trying to screw up the consumer. It is truly an anti-consumer policy. The concept of pre-ordering as a way to get access to a game you’ve already paid for should be unthinkable, but it became quite common instead, and this was the phrase “day one DLC.” This brings me very well to my second problem that needs to be solved: DLC.
It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s just that I’m disappointed
I remember when DLC was really expensive, but it was really worth it. Back then it was called “Expansion Packs”. Watch “Dragon Age: Origins”. “Dragon Age: Awakening” was a full 30-hour game that you paid a lot of money for, $ 40. However, you get a lot more for your money. Fast forward to the current game in the series, “Dragon Age: Inquisition”, where you pay $ 15 (or roughly) for approximately 3 hours of playtime. There were 3 great DLCs, which means you spend $ 45 for 9 hours of gameplay. That is a clear loss to the consumer. Worst part? Dragon Age is an example of DLC done correctly. Call of Duty has been charging $ 15 for map packs for several years. Several of those maps are just recycled maps from previous games. So they literally tricked you into buying the same thing twice! How crazy is that ?!
So here is the solution: stop. Only for. Stop pre-ordering. Stop buying shitty DLC. Stop buying products before reading a review. Hell, that last tip applies to everything, not just video games. Please be wise with your money. At the end of the day, money is a physical manifestation of the time you have spent. If you don’t value your money, you surely value your time. If we stop letting developers and publishers take advantage of us, if we stop giving them money for services not received, if we stop buying cosmetic items for too much money, then they will surely listen to us. That is the only time they will listen to us. When we say enough is enough! We will not take advantage of us. You need us, we don’t need you. We have to hit them where it hurts the most: their wallets.