[Rant] Pyromania: The Right Way to do DLC
The Pyromania Update recently came to Team Fortress 2, the greatest hat-wearing, gun-slinging, childish-yet-mature first person shooter the world has ever seen. It’s been around for some time now, and whilst companies like EA and Activision are recycling the same old shit year after year, Valve instead builds on Team Fortress 2, fixing bugs and balancing the already gymnast-like metagame to create an incredibly fun multiplayer experience. This is one of the reasons it has kept a very strong player-base since release.
Even if you’re not a Team Fortress 2 fan you have to agree that the way that Valve went about the release of the latest TF2 update was pretty damn awesome. The update was released to tie in with the last of the ‘Meet the Team’ series, a set of videos that allow players to get to know the nine playable killers in Team Fortress 2. The final video was ‘Meet the Pyro’, with the Pyro being the most mysterious of all the characters. A masked killer, questions have been raised over his or her gender, race and background.
Valve began toying with us, the players, in an Alternate Reality Game which began with mysterious items appearing alongside the random weapon drops that occur during a TF2 game. Equipping Sherlock Holmes gear on one of your characters would change the description of all these items, and piecing together all the descriptions revealed a Sherlock Holmes quote. This was followed by more mysteries, including a blog post in the form of morse code which revealed the release date for the Meet the Pyro update. Now I don’t know about you but I find this to be a much more entertaining and engaging way of releasing updates than simply chucking them off the production line for $15 a pop.
And this tangent leads me on to the crux of the article: downloadable content. The advent of DLC was a big step forward for the PC and console market. It allowed users to download games and content for existing games without having to leave the house. Now this is great for the sort of fellow who thrives in a toxic haze of sweat and fast food – leaving the house is the last thing they want to do – however it does have its problems as well. It gives developers the opportunity to extort extra money from the consumer for content that doesn’t add much value to the game.
For example, take a bow Bethesda. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was a great game, but did people really need armor for their horse? It’s only purpose was cosmetic and even then you have to admit it did look a teensy bit shit. Everyone who bought that DLC back in 2006 should be lined up and shot for encouraging this kind of crap. And it didn’t stop there, oh no. Just last year Epic Games released Gears of War 3 in which a player could use guns to shoot things. Sounds pretty standard. Wait, what’s that? A small amount of money would allow you to paint their weapons? Well hearing that is music to my ears; the game just would just not be as good if I couldn’t run around with a pink polka-dot sawn-off shotgun. Thanks Epic Games.
Of course those are a couple of extreme examples of DLC being a blatant attempt at stealing from the innocent and/or stupid. But the point is it doesn’t stop there. Space Marine power swords, Just Cause monster trucks, Fable III dog outfits, the list goes on. There are even games that base themselves on the DLC payment model. Railworks: Train Simulator for example. Beyond niche, I’m willing to bet that more people bought gun skins for Gears of War 3 than play this game. But then it’s no wonder why no one plays the bloody thing given the fact that in a train simulator you’re required to buy the trains separately. At roughly $10 a pop this DLC is almost a warning to anyone who even contemplates giving this ‘game’ a go: booking an appointment with a psychiatrist would not only be more beneficial but cheaper as well.
To be fair, DLC isn’t all bad. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare was great fun and I couldn’t complain about why it wasn’t included in the original game because Red Dead Redemption was so much fun as a stand-alone title. However I would be reluctant to class Undead Nightmare as DLC; it was more of an expansion pack and they’ve been around for a long time. Command and Conquer and Age of Empires are examples of great standalone games that were then enhanced with the aid of an expansion pack. The key word is expansion, compared to content. Content could be anything. It could even be jizz. Downloadable jizz. Now there’s a thought.
I can just about bear pointless DLC that I don’t need to purchase but it’s the pointless DLC that I do need to purchase that riles me most. Call of Duty is the worst offender; if you don’t have the new maps then your multiplayer experience is severely impaired. Peer pressure also comes into this: your friend has the new maps so in order to play soldiers with him you also need the maps. Whenever I open up Steam I am greeted by an advert for Modern Warfare 3’s second DLC ‘collection’; It would cost me $15 if I were a gullible fool. It’s stupidly overpriced, and this is only compounded by the fact that Valve release updates with similar content for Team Fortress 2 without charging a penny.
By now I’ve had my fair share of complaining without really offering a solution. Well here’s an idea: make DLC worthwhile or don’t make it at all. If you really want to add gun skins or horse armor to your game, then include them in the base game. If you’re going to make a game about trains, don’t charge extra for the trains. This kind of money-whoring needs to stop. I don’t want to discourage legitimate add-ons that add playability to a game, such as Swords and Soldiers: Super Saucy Sausage Fest, but these seem to be rare compared to all the useless crap that devs serve up. I implore you, the consumer; don’t buy this crap. You don’t need virtual items to play your game (providing you’re not one of the seven people who play train simulators); you’re better than that. You deserve better. You deserve the full package. You deserve more than just mouthfuls upon mouthfuls of downloadable jizz.
I hope you found this rant at least mildly fulfilling. If you want to read the final paragraph then please pay $0.99 for a pointless add-on. Thank you.