So, this is it then?

Say what you will about old games and the improvements in technology that the gaming industry has made over the last decade or so, but one thing seems to be turning into a constant: we are waiting for months after release for “finished games”.

Now, I don’t mean episodic games. I’m talking about release a full priced, AAA (often) game that comes out and is either missing a chunk of the story that was pulled to be included as DLC or games that just didn’t get the polish they deserved.

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As an aside, I don’t have a problem with DLC as a concept. Because, I’m sure most of you have been gaming long enough to remember, DLC used to be something to extend the life of a game. When fans were clamouring for more after the ending, sometimes they’d get a smaller nugget as DLC, like Bioshock’s Burial At Sea. Now, DLC is used to fill in purposely created gaps in a lot of narratives to be able to get a little extra on top of the title price.

I could probably fill up a Simpsons/Family Guy rolling credits list of games that would make a list of the kind of games I would describe, but for the sake of your eyes and my fingers, I’ll pass for now.

But let’s look at some of the major offenders here:

No Man’s Sky: This game is going to forever live in infamy. Released actually unfinished. The game lacked the lion’s share of features that the developers had touted. It received a recent update, seven months (approximately) after initial release and we’re just starting to get (what I feel) is close to what the game’s original concept was meant to include.

Mass Effect Andromeda: Can’t say I made the wrong choice in cancelling my pre-order here. The thing that makes this a real debacle is that BioWare is one of those studios who I feel (and I’m sure many would agree) was great because they showed serious attention to detail in their games. And then this happened. Now they’re releasing updates (granted in a timely manner) that are meant to fix and “tweak” the animation issues and increase customisation options. Good for you BioWare. Too bad you didn’t think about this, I don’t know, before selling it?

Destiny: I won’t over scrutinize Destiny. If you read me regularly, you know how I feel about the lackluster release that Destiny received.

So, now we ask: Why?

Well, the simple answer is money. The companies that own these studios want to see results in their quarterly profit reports, and sometimes that means shoehorning in a game to a release date it isn’t in any way prepared to meet. I know this is a business. I’m in no way naive. But when the companies do this, when they release unfinished, terrible looking games – it isn’t just the companies at fault. There is a level of complicity among us as well.

In some cases, like ME: A, how could we know? People take for granted that BioWare produces excellent games, especially for a series that is more or less beyond reproach. And then it ends up having serious issues. But in cases of games like Destiny, we know. We know what the first game was. We know it came out unfinished and missing a lot. But I guarantee, even for a lot of people who complained about it, they will be on the front lines to pre-order and pick it up day one same as the last. And in that, we show our complicity in this crime against the medium.

So what’s the answer? I’m not sure. I know that we need to find some way to make it clear to companies that we won’t be apart of the cycle any more. Whether it means boycotts or at least turning every game into a “wait and see”, something has to change and hurting the profit margin is all they understand.

– The Ego

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Just when I thought I was out…

What’s enough to bring you back to a game. And I don’t mean a franchise. I covered Second Chances on Monday. I mean, you’ve got a game, you probably bought it a year ago, but it’s being published by one of those good studios who keeps giving you content (for free no less). But it’s been sitting on your shelf for the better part of the last year. So what kind of content is enough to bring you back?

Take Diablo 3 for example. Now, Blizzard is renowned for constantly updating and providing new content for all of their franchises, and Diablo has been no different in this respect. Here we are nearly four and a half years later and they are still giving us the goods. Recently at Blizzcon, they announced a new playable character and a new mode.

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Yup, it’s the Necromancer from Diablo 2.

So is that enough? I know it’ll be enough for me to dust off the game. And frankly, if I’m willing to, I bet a lot of others will be too. I got the platinum for the regular release on PS3 and I got the platinum for the re-release on PS4. So suffice it to say, I’ve dropped hundreds of hours into the series already.

And it’s not like I don’t have other games to play. But I’m curious. Plus I feel like when companies go out of their way to provide free content and support after this long – I owe it to them to at least check it out. Plus the idea of playing the old Diablo on my flatscreen should be pretty cool. I wasn’t privy to the original Diablo games because I didn’t have a PC that could run any kind of games when I was growing up.

Rockstar and GTA V are another good example. Now, I have friends who play GTA Online and only GTA Online. Granted – it can be pretty fun. There’s a whole slew of things to do there. But after a while, I feel like greener pastures are calling. Playing the same sorts of missions against/with the same sorts of people gets dry and requires a break. But then they release major updates like Heists and Bikers. Again – for free.

With major updates to the game the likes of Bikers (giving you the ability to form a Motorcycle Club and buy and manage illicit businesses, run MC missions and purchase your own clubhouse) it’s a real game changer. And, again, something worthy of blowing off  the dust and popping the game in for another run.

Then again, there is also examples of games like Destiny. Where the running joke seems to be “People still play Destiny?”. They seem to be putting out a combination of free and paid updates to the game, and it seems to be a harder and harder draw towards maintaining and bringing back their player base. Though, that probably has more to do with the initial offering than the applicable content.

But is that enough? Is new content a good enough reason for you to come back or is playing the game while it’s new and fresh the only joy that can be derived from the medium? Especially in this trade and play culture that we have set up all around us. Once beaten, does it get dropped off for something new and shiny? What about when it’s not free? Are you likely to pick a game back up if it requires you dropping another 24.99$ to access the content and play with friends? Where is the limit as far as price goes?

You can sound off in the comments below, I always respond. You can also now find me on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. So please like, subscribe, follow, etc. Everything helps. And as always, if there’s a topic you’d like to see covered here, just let me know. The new plan is to release content on here every Monday and Friday. This will allow me consistency.

– The Ego

“Coincidentally”

I read a couple of good, albeit old, articles on the concept of day one DLC. You can find them here: Forbes + Cinemablend.

They both offered some interesting perspectives on the day one DLC issue. I have to say, I hadn’t considered it from the business perspective, that, offering that extra content to the end-user up front definitely influences the possibility of the extra purchase attachment. So, go businesses, I guess.

Pretty sure this is how the first meeting went:

That being the case, honestly, I still feel like releasing DLC that is a paid release the same day as the game comes out, is a huge gob of spit right in the face. To me, and others I can safely assume, telling us that the money that we’ve chosen to spend on that particular diversion over, say, going to a movie, a night of drinking, etc isn’t good enough for the developers/publishers. Now, obviously, not all of them fall into that boat. Getting that in my copy of the Witcher cemented in my mind that I will be that much more likely to purchase a CD Projekt Red title. Even if the DLC is minor contributions (though they are adding a New Game + option), I’ve never been as moved by a videogame company as I was when I cracked open my copy of Wild Hunt.

So when I see games go live, and then they “offer” you the further experience that can be added at a minimal cost, I just get mad. The issue is with the duality of my interests as a gamer. Because, like many, I do want the “complete experience”. Now, I’d like to have that out of the box, but the industry seems to think that we are just brainless consumers who are going to buy whatever is put out in front of us. Sadly, to some extent, they’re right. If we weren’t buying it, it wouldn’t keep being made and put under our collective noses. So we want it. Not necessarily on day one, but knowing that it’s there and you can buy it and then complete it at your leisure, it makes it that much harder to avoid. Especially if you want everything that is meant to capture the full picture. While the other side of me is screaming: THE GAME JUST CAME OUT AND YOU WANT ME TO BUY MORE!? So, where’s the line?

I also hate how a lot of companies sell the concept of day one DLC like it just so happened to work out as such. I can tell you, from my experience working in the gaming industry as a tester, DLC doesn’t just fall out of the core product like an apple from a branch. It takes weeks to prepare something as simple as a fully functional E3 demo. Weeks. And that’s, generally, a subsection of an (otherwise) functional game. Actually putting together a complete piece of DLC is something that can take months.

So when something comes out as DLC the day the game drops, there is no way that they just happened to wrap it all up after the game has gone gold. Hell, when I was working on the project I was on, they stopped even finishing correcting polish bugs just to make things look a bit shinier. So you can bet your sweet-ass they’re not producing even something as small as a new bonus character.

Like I said, releasing expansions, like WoW or Borderlands, at least, isn’t something that drops at release, and is easily justifiable in terms quality. If I have to put any real thought into whether or not it’s something worth it to pick up, then the truth is, it probably isn’t.

Now, I know how businesses work: They aren’t running charities. So, even when they are doing something good (Witcher 3) there is probably still something they’re planning on the back end.

Stay tuned, I’m prepping to tackle day one patches next. Hot topics in-bound.

– The Ego