One of the biggest problems in gaming is the culture that has developed surrounding downloadable content and pre-ordering video games. It’s gotten completely out of hand. These problem are actually two entirely separate issues, that have some significant overlap. The reason I am looping them together is because they both have the same solution, which I will get into later.
Let’s start with pre-ordering. The problem with it is that you are paying money before you receive a product. It’s an insane concept. You have no idea of knowing 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 were you. Can we switch lives? This has nothing to do with this article, I just hate my life. Anyways, I have played truly awful games before. The first “Two Worlds,” and “Cabela’s Big Game Hunter” both unfortunately come to mind. Both were pieces of absolute garbage. Now imagine waiting in line for two hours in the cold waiting for a game you’ve already waited for a year and half. You paid 65-ish dollars for this game with money you worked your ass off for. You followed the news of this game from day one. You were absolutely gutted to hear it was delayed by six months. You’re super pumped and you drive home. You took the next day off even though you know you need the money, just so you can play all day with a much needed day off. You put the game in, and let it install. It does its thing and you boot it up. Hmm, that’s weird… this doesn’t look like it did with the previews. You controls are a bit weird. A couple hours later and you’re furious. The game isn’t just bad, it’s boring. It’s uninteresting, and bland. It’s missions are weird, the revolutionary gameplay aspects are just gimmicks. The story they touted as engaging is awful. The main character has personality of a plank of wood. The game I am describing is the disappointment of 2014 known as Watchdogs. I was excited for this game for the longest time. I bought a PS4 to play this game. This was the best case for the next gen console. The poster child of why you should upgrade your consoles. I was basically tripping over myself to give my money to the game developers and publishers. And then it came out. Then all the controversy happened. It turns out the game we were shown at the E3, or electronic entertainment expo for those who don’t know, was running on a very high end PC. The game we got looked like that game but put through the world’s worst Instagram filters.
This showcases the problem. The textures are muddier. The lighting is noticeably less real. The shadows are less dynamic. If you look at the lights above the main character’s head in the E3 version the look like they have real depth, on the PC release they look blurry and painted on by the world’s laziest artist. And that’s the PC! It’s running at maximum graphics, all features enabled. I was playing on a console, which wouldn’t even look this good. I might as well have been playing the game with my dad’s glasses on, or playing a different game entirely. I would sue these guys for false advertising if I knew what that meant.
Seriously though, we were promised the game would look like the one on the left, and that it would run on consoles. Let’s relate this back to pre-ordering. You went into the store in let’s say May. The game comes out in November. That’s six months of which they have your money, and you haven’t even received a product. Why in the world would a company have the desire to back up their claims of graphics, game play, story, or even just technical competence if you’ve already given them your money. They know that if you had waited to see reviews of this game before it came out you would have hopefully saved your money for food and water for your starving children. So what do they do? They offer you a crap tier consolation prize in the form of pre-order bonuses. Oh boy, a skin for a gun, an exclusive pet, oh boy a DLC level that’s just made up of already made assets. These bonuses are there to trick you into giving up your money, with little to no effort from the publisher or developer in order to give you anything worth while. It’s a cheap con to make sure that you’re in their pocket before they even have to provide you with anything. It’s seriously a stupid concept. There is one pre-order concept that especially pisses me off.
I am a huge “Mass Effect” fan. If you ask any of my friends, they will ask you what my favorite things are, It goes “Mass Effect”, food and “Mass Effect.” In that order. However, when “Mass Effect 3” was being released they announced a pre-order bonus. A brand new whole mission that would add about 30 minutes of game play to the game, as well as a new character to talk to. The best part was that you got it for free just for pre-ordering! That’s amazing! However, as the game got closer to release it was found out that the pre-order bonus downloadable content (or DLC for short) was already on the discs that were being shipped. That meant that it was already on the game you just bought. The DLC you just bought was essentially a piece of code that allowed you access that part of the game. On the game you just bought for full retail price. That really angered me. That is actively trying to screw over the consumer. It is truly an anti-consumer policy. The concept of pre-ordering as a way to get access to a game you already paid for should be unthinkable, but instead it became rather common, and this the phrase “Day one DLC” was coined. This leads me really well into my second problem that needs solving: DLC.
It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s just that I am disappointed
I remember when DLC was really expensive, but really worth it. Back then it was called “Expansion Packs” Look at “Dragon Age: Origins.” “Dragon Age: Awakening” was a 30 hour full on game pretty much that you paid a lot of money for, 40 dollars. However, you got a lot more for your money. Fast forward to the current game in the series, “Dragon Age: Inquisition,” where you pay 15 bucks (or there about) for about 3 hours of game play. There were 3 big DLC’s so that means you spend 45 dollars for 9 hours of game play. That’s a clear loss for the consumer. The worst part? Dragon Age is an example of DLC done correctly. Call of Duty has been charging 15 dollars for map packs for several years now. Several of those maps are just recycled maps from previous games. So they literally just conned you into buying the same thing twice! How crazy is that?!
So here’s the solution: Stop. Just Stop. Stop pre-ordering. Stop buying crap DLC’s. Stop buying products before you read a review. Hell, that last bit of advice 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 time you’ve spent. If you don’t value your money, surely you value your time. If we stop letting developers and publishers take advantage of us, if stop giving them money for services not received, if stop buying cosmetic items for too much money, then surely they will listen to us. That’s the only time they will listen to us. When we say enough is enough! We will not be taken advantage of. You need us, we do not need you. We have to hit them where it hurts: their wallets.