A Dirge for the Sinking Ship

Ask certain people in the know, and they will tell you that the current gaming market is unsustainable. It’s pretty rare that I turn my Sauron eye to the forums for support, but this particular comment about Electronic Arts’ recent layoffs is the kind of science I like to see laid on people. It ties together with troubling research I’ve done on my own end, and while I’m not on board with the full conclusion, there does seem to be some strong evidence that the gaming industry is stuck in the Death Star trash compactor and can’t seem to get 3PO on the communicator.

I honestly have a genuine fear about what the next 3 or 4 years might bring in the gaming marketplace. Even if there is not dire writing on the wall some troubling graffiti has turned up portending dark days ahead. The industry has been in a struggle for nearly a decade to monetize their transactions outside of the initial purchase, and instead of making progress the rise of the used market, an unreliable consumer base and the omni-present piracy revenue suck have just made things worse.

So, when Bioware and EA put so many resources into developing a hardcore gamers-game like Dragon Age, and people light pitchforks on fire because of optional DLC, I can’t help but feel intensely frustrated at what I see as thin-skinned entitlement and monumental naivete.

I consider many in the angry mob to be friends, and it does not give me pleasure to stand against them. But, I firmly believe that if you want to keep getting games like Dragon Age, like Fallout 3, like Uncharted 2, like The Beatles: Rock Band then gamers are going to need to get on board with or at least stop openly revolting against things like Day-1 DLC.

I have been watching with trepidation and concern the past 2 years as a conflict of game publishing ideology has erupted between the once mighty Electronic Arts and the laser-focused, unrepentant capitalism of Activision. And, as EA sheds hundreds of jobs, and more importantly dozens of projects, my worst fears are come true. The focus on scatter-shot approaches to new IPs and emphasis on driving quality over quantity is great for warming cockles in hearts, but ejaculating dozens of crappy iterations of go-to franchises has tragically triumphed as the profitable way to go.

The only way to sustain that emphasis on gamer-friendly qualities is by making a profit on the releases that do well to off-set the costs of doing business. Warden’s Keep isn’t about greedily slurping up the ignorance of gamers. It’s about funding the next Mirror’s Edge. It’s about having the resources to take chances on games that gamers love.

Have cake or eat cake. Sorry, kids, you only get to choose one, and I fear now even that choice may have been taken from our hands.

While we were all squabbling in the corner over meaningless skirmishes about DLC and dedicated servers, the war was waged on another front and it’s starting to look like we lost.

I hate to be dire, but I’ve seen 3 years of the Bobby Kotick doctrine, and if that’s what the future for companies like EA and TakeTwo and THQ is going to be then we’re going to sit back in a few years and long for the day when we got to whine about Day-1 DLC in a game like Dragon Age. Let me describe the future I see. Subscription based services married with microtransactions. Hobbled initial releases where the DLC is not just an optional quest, but key game mechanics. One-time required online authentication that prevents multi-player for used games. A virtual death of games like Mirror’s Edge, Dead Space, Ghostbusters, Brutal Legend, Borderlands or Dragon Age.

You're standing on the Titanic, and you're complaining about the color of the deck chairs.

If I sound mad, it’s because I am. It is an unfocussed rage that simmers and burns, because many of the kinds of games I adore are destined for the dust bin. And, the reality is that no one is clean in this fight. Publishers have adopted a model that is proving unsustainable to match the rising cost of development. Retailers who struggle against thin new-release profit margins have compromised the industry as a whole for their own profit. Gamers have waged their own zealot war against a changing marketplace, irresponsibly made unreasonable decisions about their entitlements and bent the rules as they see fit to get what they think they’ve got coming. Nobody comes out of this smelling like a rose.

As our well-informed forum commenter mentions in his post, the acquisition of Playfish along with the cancellation of mid-range games might as well be EA’s white flag waved in the breeze. You recall when Activision let go of Ghostbusters, Brutal Legend and the Chronicles of Riddick remake. These are exactly the kind of games that major publishers can’t afford to make any more if they can’t find a meaningful way to continue profiting beyond initial sales. These are exactly the kind of games that EA just ejected.

Let me put it this way, if having Day-one DLC in a game like Dragon Age means that Bioware gets to make the sequel, and not having it means they don’t, I will happily take the opportunity to make my informed purchasing choice and I will fold my arms and look sternly at those who gripe and complain. Drawing the line in the sand has consequences, and I’m not nearly invested enough in the ideology of consumer activism in the gaming marketplace to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

If you want an industry that can take chances. If you want an industry that can be agile and adaptable to niche demands. If you want publishers that are willing to explore new IPs and put resources behind projects like Dragon Age, then you, my stubborn and well-intentioned comrades, need to turn down the righteous fury.

Comments

Elysium's anger is wholly misplaced. Pointing the finger at one thing as the reason for the recent problems at EA is being disingenuous.

He feels that gamers have a false sense of entitlement and goes on to detail the false sense of entitlement that developers have, using the fear of what horrible things the future might hold (ie more Bobby Kotick) as a counterpoint to his argument.

Elysium, I'm sorry for whatever made you take the wrong road that day long ago, the road you now tread where you will buy anything (as evidenced by the Conference Call), but EA and friends do not deserve my money simply because they release a game - they need to earn it with good games and even then it needs to be the right time so that I can actually afford it. We are in the midst of a global financial crisis after all.

It's frustrating to me that you would lambast those of us who would take a stand, draw a line, and say it has been crossed. Without such people we would still be living in the days of horse armour. Developers, like children, are constantly testing our limits of acceptance and as such require continual reminders of what is and is not permitted.

I understand your desire to support the industry in which you have entangled your life and the fact that you care so for your favoured developers is cute, but it's all ultimately pointless because I assure you that not a single one of them give a damn about you.

I would imagine my comments in the last podcast were sufficient to support my view, but: dude. Awesome. Love ya for putting this on the front page.

Gaald wrote:
Give me some time to enjoy the game you wanted to deliver before putting out stuff you think is extra.

The moment right after a game is released, before the full weight of retail sales are filtered back into a company's coffers, is their weakest moment financially. They've just put out the game, having paid for all the distribution and printing costs associated. They've been paying all these yahoos at the office for god knows how long, and they have to wait a bit for money to start filtering back in.

This is the perfect opportunity for DLC. The company needs money right bloody now, and getting that cash via electronic downloads directly from them or a reliable third party is a fantastic way to start flushing those drained bank accounts.

To me, the argument about day one DLC just doesn't make sense to me. Like I said on the show, if you don't like it don't support it with your money. I see it as a vote of support by the companies, more than anything else. "If you liked that, how about a little more where that fire came from, scarecrow?"

Hey, there's so many great games coming out that I can't keep up with them. If there's some kind of industry apocalypse where the number of annual games drops by 90% I probably won't bat an eye. I have no doubt I'll find plenty of great games to play that will keep me entertained, and likely not the same blockbusters that the "OOH NEW SHINY" crowd keeps shelling out money for. Yeah, I pre-ordered Left 4 Dead 2. I'm in the minority though when I comes to the number of hours I put into Tropico 3 and X3: Terran Conflict. Even if no new games come out ever, I have a huge library of older games that I still love, dating back to the early 80s.

So I'll keep whatever sense of entitlement I have and if the industry decides it no longer wants to cater to my tastes, I'll survive.

Let me preface this all by saying that I don't really have a dog in the Dragon Age fight. I have no interest in the game and won't be purchasing it, or "Warden's Keep," anytime soon. What I do have an interest in is the future of video gaming and the way that future is being created by products, even ones I'm not interested in, that are being released today.

BritishDan wrote:
"but it's hard to escape the suspicion that content that could be sold for extra money on day one could have been included in the original package on day one, as well."

This is entirely wrong. For about 20 different reasons.

First of all, just because DLC was complete by the time the game shipped, does not mean that it was done before the game went gold and was shipped to manufacturing. Two very different schedules.

Second of all, as you yourself point out, the game is complete without it. If Warden's Keep was released a few weeks after the game was out, would there be an outrage? If you wouldn't be upset, then perhaps your only problem is that the DLC came out too quickly? Is that really the issue?

Not being a game designer myself, I'll admit that I'm not fully qualified to discuss whether or not it was technically feasible for "Warden's Keep" to be included in Dragon Age at the time it was released. However, I would posit that most consumers are not in a position to completely understand this, either. To someone who reads a lot of news and interviews online, it might seem reasonable that "Warden's Keep" couldn't be included in the original package because that had already gone "gold"; to the average consumer at the checkout stand, it looks like a cash grab.

Now, I know that we have some professional game developers who frequent this site. I'd be interested to hear their comments about this explanation for things (that the content had been locked so the DLC had to be sold separately). I don't know anything about you, BritishDan, so you may be the developer I'm looking for, but most of the explanations of this process that I've read have been written by people who are repeating BioWare's official position. Does anyone inside the industry, unrelated to BioWare, care to comment? Sephirotic?

BritishDan wrote:
And thirdly, Bioware invested in making a complete game and also invested in making this content. Even if the Warden's Keep were completed before DA went gold, why is it that you would expect it to be part of the package? Either a) you think you deserve to get it for free, or b) you think everyone should have to pay for it when they buy the game. I thank them for not forcing b down our throats, and I don't understand the entitlement mentality behind a.

The distinction between "Warden's Keep" and Dragon Age is a completely arbitrary one that has been defined by BioWare and EA. That's fine; that's their right as producers and distributors. What's concerning is the realization that that distinction, particularly with day-one DLC (and most especially if, as you posit, "Warden's Keep" could have been included in the original game but wasn't), is one that could be made at any time about any aspect of the game.

"Warden's Keep" amounts to little more than a side quest. Up to this point in the history of video games, the side quests that were finished when a game shipped were included in the purchase price of that game; the Butcher's Quest was a part of Diablo when you bought it, and you didn't have to pay extra to visit Wutai in Final Fantasy VII. What it seems like BioWare and EA have done in this case is to take a segment of the game that would have been traditionally included in the finished product, cut it off, and sold it separately.

BritishDan wrote:
Remember, you are buying a product, not a complete accounting of all the company's efforts over x time. If one team programs two games at the same time and releases both, you don't expect that buying one ought to give you the other for free, do you? Then why, if they create extra content beyond a complete game, do you feel that you deserve that for free?

This is a straw man, and I don't see how it's relevant to this discussion.

BritishDan wrote:
And it's not like Dragon Age is lacking in content, is it? All the reviews I've seen so far go out of their way to praise Bioware for squeezing so much content into the game. But it's still not enough?

More than anything, I think that BioWare and EA mismanaged the public relations aspect of this release. However, it's exact this aspect of the release that I think EA is most curious about: how well do consumers react to day-one DLC? How well do they react to day-one DLC that is sold to them in-game? If you release an expansion pack on the same day as the original content, does it sell well or poorly?

It's this public relations aspect that I'm referring to when I say that "Warden's Keep" is testing the waters for this sort of thing in the future. I don't mean that "Warden's Keep" is an example of DLC that completes and incomplete game.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I'm not going to be buying Dragon Age, because it doesn't interest me. Dragon Age and "Warden's Keep" might not be the best example of abusive DLC, but it's the most recent, and, I feel, represents a further step toward the DLC- and microtransaction-intensive future Elysium envisions in his article.

I don't see it as necessary to accuse people who don't like day-one DLC as being "thin-skinned" or carrying a sense of entitlement, or being naive. This is a consumer culture in which many different ways of collecting money co-exist. I've gone on vacation to resorts where everything is included, and I've gone to others where the management charges an extra fee for even a beach chair or towel.

Some people like one type of arrangement or the other, and both forms of payment exist, without anyone talking about the need for the industry to use one or the other method or face going out of business. The underlying issue is whether the consumer feels he or she is maximizing their value. And that's going to vary based on the specific features and price structure of the game.

Gaald wrote:
Second of all, as you yourself point out, the game is complete without it. If Warden's Keep was released a few weeks after the game was out, would there be an outrage? If you wouldn't be upset, then perhaps your only problem is that the DLC came out too quickly? Is that really the issue?

It's all about perception. To me releasing day one DLC gives me the perception you are looking to nickel and dime your customer as much as possible. Yes had they waited a month and said, hey we've been working on some DLC here it is, I would have probably been super excited about it.

Give me some time to enjoy the game you wanted to deliver before putting out stuff you think is extra.

I think it's just them wanting to get the word out early that there is more to this game if you want there to be more and to show you that they aren't blowing smoke up your arse.

I would have to think you're more likely to keep your game and buy DLC if there is DLC out there already when you are done with the game and ready to trade it in then you are if the DLC is a promise some x number of months away.

I mean the supermarket already has the checkout aisle stock full of candy and gossip mags when you enter the supermarket to purchase a gallon of milk and a dozen doughnuts. They don't say to themselves, we'll stock the shelf about 10 minutes after he's in the store so he doesn't feel pressured or doesn't get the wrong idea. No they have it ready asap.

I see the early DLC the way sort of way. They are getting ready for those making the early return trip back to Gamestop.

I hope it doesn't devolve to the point where games are gimped and can't be completed with out DLC.

Spoiler:
Things aren't free.

It is a reality that costs have to be offset somehow. Either companies make layoffs, cut salaries, cut other overhead (printing & shipping etc) or consumers pay more. I have no problem with day one DLC, as long as the initial product isn't gimped to where it can't be finished.

I would agree with anyone who thinks putting an ad in the middle of RPG story text is a little obnoxious, but having additional content ready to purchase seems perfectly acceptable to me. The same goes for microtransactions, if someone wants to pay $1 to buy a sword more power to them, the game developer just needs to make sure that those microtransations don't brake the game.

I think we can see some beacon of hope in all the financial gloom. Look at the small companies like Runic or Ironclad who have proven that if you create a game that is legitimately good, and you keep your costs down you can succeed. (and hopefully get bought out by EA for 300 million)

First of all, I just want to say this: f*ck Bobby Kotick.

Now what I find funny out of all this is two or three years ago, we all saw EA as this big evil. I am honestly really surprised how much they turned around recently and am really happy for them. Sure, they still do some stupid things (see: "the new sh*t" advertising), but the company turned from what Activision is now to a company worth white knighting.

It is sad to see them having to turn away from the quality over quantity outlook they had. I guess no good deeds go unpunished.

Also: f*ck Modern Warfare 2.

I think Parallax Abstraction verbalized a large part of my thoughts in a manner that I could not hope to achieve. So, everything he said +1.

Now to try and say something original myself. Since I sit somewhere in the gray area between the black and white painted in the article, I'm of a mixed mind about it. I do not mind DLC per se. There is nothing inherently wrong about the idea of DLC. What I find wrong about EA DLC in general is the price. They tend to price their DLC about 20-100 times more than I think it should be worth. I was also very vocal about the Warden's Keep NPC in the game, as I find its implementation to be nothing but a cash grab. No matter the appologists' arguments to the otherwise.

But this is all just minor squabbling. I really don't care about it that much. I chose to vote with my wallet (a course of action you, my friend, have advocated more than once in the past). I will not pay for the intrusive advertisements in my games. The real problem I have with the premise of the article is the Titanic analogy. Me standing on the sinking ship complaining about chairs implies that if EA goes down, so does the gaming. As if somehow EA is gaming. It is not.

Elysium wrote:
If you want an industry that can take chances. If you want an industry that can be agile and adaptable to niche demands. If you want publishers that are willing to explore new IPs and put resources behind projects like Dragon Age, then you, my stubborn and well-intentioned comrades, need to turn down the righteous fury.

I have no love for EA what so ever. They kept telling me for years that I'm a second class citizen as a PC gamer, and now that their wrong business decisions are sinking them, they come back to me for bailout money. They can shove it where the sun don't shine. Yes, it would be terrible if 10000 people (or however many EA employs) lost their jobs, but new companies would form, and people would find new jobs. And perhaps some of these new companies would be worthy of my money because they would create games that I would want to give my money to.

Maybe it is time for a purging fire. To cleanse the industry of rotten set-in ways and allow new ideas to grow.

Excellent post Elysium.

I think many readers are getting hung up on the term DLC. The bottomline is like you said, profit margins are decreasing and development cost are increasing. This is the only "Light" at the end of a very long dark tunnel for most developers.

People decry about the graphics in Dragon Age (Which I totally disagree), but if you want crazy graphics then that bumps up development costs significantly. I would venture to guess that graphics/3D is the culprit for the high costs of today's games.

With EA laying off 1500 people, with poor earnings reports from just about all the game studios, they do have to find a method of earning more, otherwise... we might find there will only be a handful of new games in the future instead of 2-10 per week that we're used to seeing right now.

*Redacted -- I got snippy*

To those bringing up decent feedback, I've had my say and I don't want to bog down the discussion with rehashing my interpretation. I think the discussion is excellent and I'm reading it with interest.

Someone should seriously hire Parallax into some sort of professional consumer advocacy position.

The best article I've read on this site since I started visiting here, and that's saying something. I couldn't agree more. The entire industry seems to be in the throes of a remarkably painful transition, and I think it's important to realize that things cannot stay the same. Those companies that successfully adapt will define the shape of gaming until the next major transition. Those that can't will rot on the roadside, a pungent reminder of the danger of stubbornness.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:
I've seen an alarming propagation of the point of view that somehow consumers owe the industry something, almost like we work for them rather than the other way around.

As a consumer, your only responsibility it to demand value for money and to support the products and services you believe in.

Parallax, I agree completely with your whole post, but just wanted to QFT those two points. This "blame the consumer" attitude is completely illogical.

Elysium wrote:
Someone should seriously hire Parallax into some sort of professional consumer advocacy position.

I may need a job soon. I wonder if the Entertainment Consumers Association wants to start a Canadian office. We do have a lot of industry players up here after all.

emyln wrote:
People decry about the graphics in Dragon Age (Which I totally disagree), but if you want crazy graphics then that bumps up development costs significantly. I would venture to guess that graphics/3D is the culprit for the high costs of today's games.

I'm sure saying this won't make me popular, but graphics whores are the actual people ruining the industry.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
I'm sure saying this won't make me popular, but graphics whores are the actual people ruining the industry.

Which speaks volumes as to the roots of this impending crisis.

Hear, hear!!

I could not agree more. The notion that the mere existence of DLC on day one means that the game must be a shell designed to suck you in an keep micro-transactioning you to death is pure nonsense. Consumers have to take more responsibility for informing themselves and making rational purchasing decisions and spend less time railing against straw men.

I've seen some site Warden's Keep as an example of DLC that goes over the edge and I have to say that I disagree. About the only thing it provides that might be considered a "must have" is additional storage and Bioware has already addressed that via free "DLC" that adds a chest to your camp. Beyond that it adds texture and some nice, but not game breaking or game defining, perks.

Bioware is not the devil here, they are one of the good guys and they are trying to find ways to reap the rewards necessary for them to keep doing what they do well. DLC, when done right, is a win-win. The players get the oft-talked about re-playability and get more out of a game setting that they like. The developers get a revenue stream and a way to encourage folks to hang on to their copy of the game. It also lets them get at least some revenue from consumers who choose to purchase the game used.

In the end though if we keep behaving like spoiled little children all we are going to be left with is throw away games and iPhone crap (not that an occasional beer and pretzels title like Plants vs. Zombies isn't a nice diversion, I just would not want that to be the entirety of my gaming experience).

adam.greenbrier wrote:

Not being a game designer myself, I'll admit that I'm not fully qualified to discuss whether or not it was technically feasible for "Warden's Keep" to be included in Dragon Age at the time it was released. However, I would posit that most consumers are not in a position to completely understand this, either. To someone who reads a lot of news and interviews online, it might seem reasonable that "Warden's Keep" couldn't be included in the original package because that had already gone "gold"; to the average consumer at the checkout stand, it looks like a cash grab.

I've posted this already in the CC thread, but I'll post it again here.

That's a completely irrelevant argument. It doesn't matter when the DLC was completed, it doesn't even matter if all you're actually downloading is a code to unlock the DLC and the content was already on the install DVD. You paid your $60, you got your game. You have the option of paying $X extra for Y more hours of gameplay. That's either a good deal or it isn't, and there are thousands of review sites and forums that will help you decide.

"Warden's Keep" amounts to little more than a side quest. Up to this point in the history of video games, the side quests that were finished when a game shipped were included in the purchase price of that game; the Butcher's Quest was a part of Diablo when you bought it, and you didn't have to pay extra to visit Wutai in Final Fantasy VII.

Again, that is completely irrelevant. Also, quite probably there were plenty of side quests and dungeons that got cut from those games because the budget wasn't there to finish them. The income stream from DLC could have paid for the development time to finish them.

@Elysium: I get carried away sometimes too often. Parallax did a far superior job of presenting the view I inexpertly attempted to present.

I also have to give Parallax Abstraction props for his post and Elysium props for his article. You both did fine jobs of articulating very different points of view.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
I'm sure saying this won't make me popular, but graphics whores are the actual people ruining the industry.

I've got your back on this, Quintin.

How cheap do you have to be to complain about a 7 dollar add-on, sheesh. Just don't buy it, but complaining and taking the flag for "HELL NO WE WONT DOWNLOAD" just makes you look bad and poor and irish

I was just thinking that perhaps the problem lies in the fact that PC gaming is still going through the transition period from paid expansions released a while later to near instant DLC releases. In console-land DLC is prevalent, but for PC there hasn't been that much of it and traditionally we've come to expect such small pieces of content for free.

It's a little similar to the MW2 dedicated server arguments where we've been made accustomed to something and later had it changed, except in that case there is nothing replacing it

Mex wrote:
How cheap do you have to be to complain about a 7 dollar add-on, sheesh. Just don't buy it, but complaining and taking the flag for "HELL NO WE WONT DOWNLOAD" just makes you look bad and poor and irish

I'm not sure the price is the issue but you raise an interesting question in the case of Dragon Age, if it had been cheaper would that have made a difference?

I've seen an alarming propagation of the point of view that somehow consumers owe the industry something, almost like we work for them rather than the other way around. No, we are the ones paying them, they are the ones who are supposed to provide the product that we want. If some modern games have unrealistically high budgets that require additional optional content (and I have bought lots of DLC) or a million plus sales to make something profitable, then it wasn't budgeted or planned properly and that's the publisher's fault, not ours. The industry is so caught up in this arms race for technical fidelity that they don't care if they cut off their own limbs to win it. Yes, we as gamers are dazzled by the visuals in Uncharted 2 but are gamers demanding that every game look this good or is the industry demanding that of itself? Outside the gaming press, I never see people complaining that a sequel to a game doesn't look substantially better than a previous installment.

The only issue I have really with the "consumers" is when certain consumers complain ever so loudly about companies when the reality is that the same companies are just shifting to what the consumer is demanding.

Theres a reason the things happened to MW2.. or Dragon Age.. consumer attitudes and tastes shifted.

Theres a reason EA paid $300M total for Playfish (though chances are EA management will screw that up like I said they will) its because consumer attitudes are shifting.

The only thing Ely pointed out is that those who stand on their personal sinking ship railing against the companies are really just railing against the "world"

Thats the sense of entitlement I talk about.. not the right for the consumer to "speak" with their wallet since that's EXACTLY what I always say to do.. don't like something.. don't buy it....case closed move on.

I for one embrace the idea that I will have to pay $150 to support games like Dragon Age because I enjoy that type of game.. its just that I'm rapidly a minority.. so I have to expect to PAY more to ENJOY that type of game to be developed...

Because if I don't its going to be a world full of Mafia Wars and social gaming crap that I can't stand...

Unless there's a monumental shift to what a company has to PAY real people to develop games like the scope of Dragon Age then its kinda silly to just claim that high budgets are always "unrealistic" since last I checked the market sorta set salary rates for Artists, Producers, Developers, Q&A and games like Dragon Age require HUGE amounts of resources you can't realistically do "on the cheap"

I find this article very confusing. Pretty much everyone who makes the games I like is doing just fine as far as I'm aware. Just because the moronically massive monoliths are in trouble doesn't mean the gaming industry as a whole is about to go kersplooey.

Frankly, I can only welcome a gaming industry with fewer Halo 3s and Modern Warfares and with more 2D Boys, Stardocks, Amanita Designs and the like.

As such, I find Parallax Abstraction's posts to be very much closer to my point of view.

I'm not sure that I understand the logic of the article, but it seems to be this: If I want Mirror's Edge (a game that I did not play, but that we are taking as a symbol of 'quality-over-quantity' here, which is fine), then I need to buy the DLC in Dragon Age purely for the sake of increasing my purchase price for Dragon's Age. Similarly, if I want more Brutal Legend (another symbol for quantity-over-quality), then I need to purchase whatever DLC they might develop for that title or for other EA titles, on the assumption it's all going into the same pot. If I'm misreading, someone please correct me, but I'm drawing that conclusion from these places:

Warden’s Keep isn’t about greedily slurping up the ignorance of gamers. It’s about funding the next Mirror’s Edge. It’s about having the resources to take chances on games that gamers love.

You recall when Activision let go of Ghostbusters, Brutal Legend and the Chronicles of Riddick remake. These are exactly the kind of games that major publishers can’t afford to make any more if they can’t find a meaningful way to continue profiting beyond initial sales.

I agree that the industry finds itself in a dire situation of rising costs, a horrible piracy problem on PC, and a stagnant consumer pool, and the broader economic situation does not help at all; I would also agree that the response to the Modern Warfare 2 situation on PC did not reflect well on our hobby. However, EA charged me 60 dollars for Dragon Age while simultaneously asking me to pay more on day one for elements that are integrated into the main body of the game (as opposed to making some MP feature a separate charge, for example), and Infinity Ward has indeed removed game features that many PC gamers take to be standards. It does not make me thin-skinned to say that these are problems for me. I also question the assumption that buying Warden's Keep will pay for the next Brutal Legend, and if I'm going to be asked to make that leap I will need to see evidence of it from the company itself.

Other industries charge more for added value--cable television comes to mind, with multiple pricing tiers for digital, HD, HBO, and so on. But if we were asked to pay an extra charge per month for individual channels that had previously been taken as part of the package, then I think that people would resist. Telling them that they were helping to undermine the television industry would not be a productive response.

Mex wrote:
How cheap do you have to be to complain about a 7 dollar add-on, sheesh. Just don't buy it, but complaining and taking the flag for "HELL NO WE WONT DOWNLOAD" just makes you look bad and poor and irish

I lol'd in real life when I read this..

Zelos wrote:
adam.greenbrier wrote:

Not being a game designer myself, I'll admit that I'm not fully qualified to discuss whether or not it was technically feasible for "Warden's Keep" to be included in Dragon Age at the time it was released. However, I would posit that most consumers are not in a position to completely understand this, either. To someone who reads a lot of news and interviews online, it might seem reasonable that "Warden's Keep" couldn't be included in the original package because that had already gone "gold"; to the average consumer at the checkout stand, it looks like a cash grab.

I've posted this already in the CC thread, but I'll post it again here.

That's a completely irrelevant argument. It doesn't matter when the DLC was completed, it doesn't even matter if all you're actually downloading is a code to unlock the DLC and the content was already on the install DVD. You paid your $60, you got your game. You have the option of paying $X extra for Y more hours of gameplay. That's either a good deal or it isn't, and there are thousands of review sites and forums that will help you decide.

Dead on. Almost everyone I've seen railing against WK is missing the point.

As a consumer it is your responsibility to make informed purchasing decisions. You have to decide if DA:O is worth your money in its base form. The existence of WK doesn't prevent you from making this decisions, nor does it make it harder for you as a consumer. Similarly you can decide to purchase WK or not - either initially as part of some larger "special edition" package or separately as an option. Other than the delivery mechanism these kinds of choices are nothing new and certainly not unique to DA:O or even the video game industry.

Myself, I knew that there was a high likelihood that I would love the game, based on the enjoyment I received from previous Bioware games. Therefore I made the decision to purchase a package that included both of the day one DLC packs. So for me the DLC *was* part of the base game and I was glad to pay the money required to get it. If others disagree and either choose not to buy the game or the DLC - that's fine. But do so based on the entertainment value they provide, not based on how they are packaged - that's just silly.

@Elysium: I get carried away sometimes too often.

You and me both, brotha.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
emyln wrote:
People decry about the graphics in Dragon Age (Which I totally disagree), but if you want crazy graphics then that bumps up development costs significantly. I would venture to guess that graphics/3D is the culprit for the high costs of today's games.

I'm sure saying this won't make me popular, but graphics whores are the actual people ruining the industry.

You could be popular? I find this scenario unlikely. That said, there is a lot of truth in your statement.

I feel about as bad for a game company that can't recoup tens of millions in development costs as I do a movie maker who can't recoup tens of millions in production -- not very.