The big fear a lot of gamers’ had when the DLC craze started kicking in was that developers and producers would, instead of making legitimate expansion content, start slicing portions off the base game, selling you these portions as extras, for a premium, of course.
Now, I’ve defended DLC before. I don’t see anything wrong with genuinely offering smaller chunks of expansion content for fans. Some people complain about Horse Armor, but while I can’t see the appeal, I don’t mind developers making a few bucks from the people who do. In the end, it helps support the developer of games I enjoy.
But the danger of this model is how tempting it is to go in the opposite direction. Instead of adding new stuff, remove some that you would have previously given away for free and charge for it. Same amount of investment, greater ROI. It makes good business sense. We’ve all had enough exposure to the EAs and Bobby Kotick’s of the world to believe that this thought would never cross anyone’s mind. Once once they’ve chopped the game into smaller offerings, well, that becomes the new standard, the new average, and no one blinks when they chop off even more. Notice how the length of FPS campaigns dropped to 8 hours and now to 4-5 hours?
In this light, I felt a surge of rage this morning when I checked Steam for the daily deal to discover that there appeared to be two King Arthur 2 games on sale. KA2 had been released for $40, as expected, but there was also this other one, Dead Legions, for $10. Was it a tie-in game? I checked the page, it looked very similar to KA2.
Turns out it’s a ‘prologue’ chapter for KA2. A 10 hour mini-campaign that people who blindly pre-ordered the game get for free, and those of us who wait for reviews can pay an extra $10 for. How splendid.
Now, I don’t mind pre-order incentives when it’s some fucking helmet or ring that gives you a +2 bonus over other starting items. Whatever. But 10 hours? How long is the single-player campaign likely to be, in total? I’d be very surprised if it was more than 30. So we’re talking 25% of the single-player game here.
Like I said, I don’t generally mind most pre-order bonus offers. But there is a threshold for this shit. Cutting out 25% of the first day content so you can either make an extra 10 bucks or encourage people to make poor economic decisions is too fucking much. Slapping ‘prologue’ on the description isn’t very fucking convincing either, I’ve played games with prologues before. The prologues were in the fucking game, where you’d expect them to be, not sold separately.
It’s a pity. I was genuinely thinking about buying KA2, the theme is cool.