DLC: Daring Loud Cries (for money)

151353-dragon“We are apparently at a point now where the Collector’s Edition is not the ultimate manifestation of a game.”

~ Tycho

I think Penny Arcade has it right on the nose — as much as I love BioWare and am eagerly consuming DAO this week, their microtransaction/DLC methods whiff of a shifty deal in a back alley.  Of course, this is all under the EA banner, and I still itch unbearably whenever I think of how much they presented us with a gutted Sims 3 and then expected us to spend upwards of $100 to purchase the rest of the content.

As Tycho said, it’s downright confusing as to which version of the game came with what “free” DLC — I too bought the Collector’s Edition, and still had to pony up $7 for Warden’s Peak.  This is the double-edged sword of the microtransaction argument: people say you don’t *have* to buy this stuff, and technically that’s true, but you also have to live with a substandard version of the game as a result.  It’s like buying a car — you don’t have to buy an air conditioner with it, but you know you’re going to, because it’s a cheaper experience (in both senses of the word) without one.  And yes, it’s extremely tacky to try to be pushing this stuff on us on day one.  We’ve certainly been through this before *gives Cryptic a look*.

I do hope they continue to develop new content for DAO, and it’d be a swell move on their part if some of it was free, even — a gesture of good faith, or somesuch.  But my other quibble is with pricing.  You see, “microtransaction” to me is actually “micro”.  Like, $5 or less.  I don’t know why we consider $10 or $15 “micro”, but I guess that’s just semantics.  In any case, if you didn’t get either Warden’s Peak or the Stone Prisoner as part of your purchase, you have to spend $7 and $15 respectively to unlock it.  Having just completed both quest lines/areas, I have to say that while the quality of the content is good, both new areas are pretty short, representing about 30 minutes apiece.  They also leave you with a few legacy items: Warden’s Peak has some nice armor and special abilities, as well as granting you a base once you retake it, and Stone Prisoner adds a jive-talking golem to your party for the rest of the game.  So you have to decide if that’s really worth the price, for you.  I don’t regret it, but it does seem fairly pricey.  After all, Baldur’s Gate 2 let you capture multiple bases and add all characters to your party without an additional cost.

Fidgit even went so far as to accuse BioWare of scamming players, mostly because if you don’t buy the Warden’s Keep, you’ll be shut out of a standard RPG feature — a storage chest.

Really, with all the confusion over the different editions, and with the sour taste that day one DLC purchases leave with many, it would have been a classy move on BioWare’s behalf to just give all players these two pieces of content as a pleasant surprise, and then gone on to work on further paid content.

“Regardless, day one DLC that must be paid for will likely continue to cause frustration in the future, especially when it includes aspects that can improve the play experience.”

~ The Escapist

“Seriously though, I’m all for DLC, but give players some time before buying the full game and buying the content you’ve already made, right? I’m otherwise really geared up for Dragon Age: Origins, but day one DLC gets on my nerves.”

~ Destructoid

15 thoughts on “DLC: Daring Loud Cries (for money)

  1. Tizlor November 6, 2009 / 4:59 pm

    I… I didn’t know about the storage chest. Sort of annoyed about it now.

  2. Scott November 6, 2009 / 5:20 pm

    I don’t know where I stand on this, but it’s humorous reading everyone else freak out.

    First everyone gets pissed that Borderlands merely announces the theme of their first DLC. Never mind that the DLC won’t actually arrive for a couple months, everyone freaks because “zomg they’re cutting out content and making us buy it later!!1!” Never mind that Borderlands went into Certification Mode in August, which is when some of the team shifted into ideas for DLC…

    Now BioWare ships an awesome game with DLC that is also available on launch day. When was this DLC produced in relation to the game entering Certification Mode, and so forth? Gamers are so finicky, I don’t think studios can “win” no matter what they do. If BioWare had waited a few days or a week, would there be an outrage? What if they admitted the DLC was ready on launch day but they intentionally withheld it a week to avoid an outrage? The result would probably be… you guessed it: outrage.

  3. Longasc November 6, 2009 / 5:59 pm

    He is right. You also have to pay for the shared storage feature in LOTRO. Guild Wars lets you pay for extra storage panes. And well, DA:O has Warden’s Keep – and it is an offline game that works like future MMOs could be paid for in future: FEE FREE ONLINE GAMING – but pay for entrance in many dungeons and pay extra for game features and storage.

    It is an alarming trend. Microtransactions are fine and dandy, but too much micro transactions are macro level bullshit.

  4. nellie November 6, 2009 / 7:02 pm

    I agree in some degree about not putting out DLC content on one hand, on the other hand they did give out more items then originally intended with the copies and to my knowledge (i could be proven wrong on this) everyone who preordered got stone prisoner for free collectors edition or not.

    I think in part some of this additional content that they are selling/giving us on day one was on schedule to be later dlc content but as the game got delayed for 6 months (it was orignally due to release in april and had a last second delay) they had the content done and ready to move with it, so they moved one dlc pack to free with preorder and the other one just made available off day one.

    Personally i’m more exited then upset about it, having it available and ready to buy lets me know they actually have a good working system for supporting the game more down the road, and the game is sooo unbelievably good i’m looking forward to additions. It also leaves me very hopeful that they will be able to add some form of multiplayer down the road through the dlc system.

  5. Naithin November 6, 2009 / 7:17 pm

    I’m of split minds on this matter.

    I believe them when they say this content was developed after the game went gold (for PC), as the PC version was originally set to release far, far earlier in the year.

    It was held back for a simultaneous release with consoles (this, personally, grates on me a lot more. 😛 ) leaving a lot of PC folk time to twiddle their thumbs…

    …Or to develop more content.

    But while I do believe this is the case, I think that there is some merit to the general complaints levelled, especially after seeing Tycho mention that the ‘Deluxe Edition’ from retail didn’t include Wardens Keep. Seriously? They couldn’t have retroactively allowed the game key to unlock this DLC as well or something?

    So yeah, that’s definitely an ass move there. I don’t know that I agree either with holding the DLC that was ready artificially either. If they released it 2 weeks or 2 months out from the game, I may well be ‘done’ with the game never having experienced it, or at least have moved on from playing the OC. (I do intend to play with the Toolset, so I guess DLC will appeal to me based on what resources it adds there, much as the NWN1 expacs were always more about the tilesets and resources added to me 😛 ).

  6. WalterD November 6, 2009 / 9:02 pm

    Why didn’t they just include the DLC in the retail version of the game, and raise the price of the game? If your game is already $50, I don’t think raising it another 5 or 10 would really curb sales. Call me old fashioned, but I think extra content that’s ready on day one should be just plain ol’ normal content.

  7. Roam November 7, 2009 / 10:40 am

    How peculiar, Warden’s keep was included in my CE of the game.. Are you sure you redeemed your serial codes properly? Might be able to get your 7$ back.

  8. Ryver November 7, 2009 / 3:38 pm

    The Stone Prisoner is given to every retail copy of the game. Not sure about digital downloads for the PC though.

    This may be one of the rare cases where the physical box would have paid off.

  9. Tizlor November 7, 2009 / 4:31 pm

    The Stone Prisoner IS included with the PC retail version, I was just at the local EB.

  10. Doug November 8, 2009 / 12:12 am

    Personally, I think day one DLC is the only thing to do to combat used game sales. At least until Gamestop/EB and co. actually give some sort of financial benefit to the developers.

  11. tarisai November 9, 2009 / 5:37 am

    I wasn’t really considering the Wardens Keep DLC (Stone Prisoner and Dragon Armour came with my retail, as I believe it did with everyone’s) untill the quest came up for it.

    I think this is quite cheeky.

    I wouldn’t mind if I could play the game without it and feel as though I didn’t need it; but now someone asks me to travel to the Wardens Keep, and downloading the content is a dialogue choice!

    This leads me to feel as though there is a gaping hole in my game, that I need to cough up $7 to fill.

    As far as marketing goes they’ve done a good job. I do want it. However I feel this is a step too far: actually referencing DLC content in the vanilla plot line. They present it as an essential expense, rather than an an optional detour.

    I guess this is EA’s doing? Can we hate EA more please?

    Another thing which I think is rather cunning is “including DLC with retail for free”. This makes us think “well, we got two DLC packages for free so paying for a third is a good deal” but the two free DLC packages are obviously part of the vanilla game.

    Sneaky hobbitses! FAT HOBBITSES!!!

  12. Tdubs036 November 9, 2009 / 8:44 am

    The free parts of the DLC at launch seems a good idea – it encourages people to buy the game new rather than second hand which means more money for EA. Most gamers seem to take against any company that tries to maxmise profits, shock horror!

    If at the end of the day if the DLC is just bits cut and then re-added from the vanilla game, if its free then what does it matter – all that is required is putting in some promocodes and waiting for a download. Between this or DRM I know which one is better – imagine DRM for Dragons Age, the SPORE crapstorm all over again! My real gripe is the “Wardens Keep” – to have content avaliable at launch that you have to pay extra for just appears to be cashing in.

    I bought the collectors addition for £40 from GAME, expecting to have all the DLC thrown in. However once I had downloaded everything Wardens Keep was still there flashing at me. Apparently only Steam downloadable collectors edition comes with all the DLC free to make up for no cloth world map. But since my collectors edition didn’t have it in the case I basicallt paid £10 for a bonus CD of content I would have got with the download anyway.

    Plus I had to pay for the DLC as want the whole experience, talk about “sick as a parrot!” when I started playing.

    Good thing is that the game is making up for this distasteful experience by being bloody brilliant!

  13. Hatch November 9, 2009 / 11:45 am

    I’m really glad I read this post, because otherwise I wouldn’t have figured out that I get the Stone Prisoner for free. Now to decide if Warden’s Peak is worth it….

  14. Naithin November 10, 2009 / 4:29 pm

    As a rather belated mini-review of the Warden’s Keep DLC now that I’ve done it..

    Utility of it aside (a more recent post of Syp’s here links to a bioware staffers mod to add a stash to your camp!) is the quest line there any good?

    Yeah, it is. I enjoyed my time there. Despite how short it was – and it was, very short – it was all of very high quality, could’ve fit into the main game without any raise of an eyebrow, save for the density of it. You are given a lot of lore in such a short time, a lot of events to go through, and the bosses are encountered, of course, as a result, very quickly.

    So. Worth $7 if you didn’t already get it up with your DA:O package?

    …Yeah, I’d say it is. Necessary? Absolutely not.

    As an aside, not a fan of the DLC’s implementation in game either. Putting a quest giver in before you’ve bought it? Ouch.

    On the other hand, I can see it being useful in the future. I mean, practically everyone knew about this DLC due to all the drama surrounding it. But what if, somewhere down the track, you just happen to be playing, and haven’t been following the DA:O news or anythin’?

    Good way to get you to notice it without any extra effort on your part. Don’t want it? Ignore it. Annoying? Yeah, to some people. I’m a sucker for DLC though, so I’d probably at least go look at it and see what it’s all about. 😛

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