A DLC Too Far

Borderlands is an online game I am keenly interested in.  Keen enough that I already bought it on Steam for a 10% discount.  In my morning tweets I saw Gearbox write that DLC (“downloadable content”) was already coming for the unreleased game (Borderlands drops 10/26).  Not only was it DLC, it was DLC that players had to buy!  My immediate thought was outrage.  How dare they?  To ask for more money before I even got to play the game I paid for was a slap in the face.  (The last 5-words, in a perfect world, would be written in a self-debasing sarcasm font.)

After looking at the neat DLC pictures of a zombie isle, I had another idea.  Gearbox devs were the good guys here.  They were letting me, the customer know, the specifics of their business plan before people shelled out for the game.  Players that were interested in Borderlands as a service would now have a more concrete understanding of things to come.  MMOs are definitely a service, and so many times we buy the initial offering without having a good understanding of the specifics of the bargain.  How often will we get content updates? How about paid-expansions and their cost?  What exactly does our subscription fee cover? A lot of times it is pure faith in the developer.

Now Gearbox’s DLC has the bonus that it is likely completely optional for Borderlands, but in our DIKU-world, MMO players don’t realistically have that option of choice.  The expansions either raise the level cap, gear cap, or just simply add in new must-haves.  It’s a siren’s song, and stuffing your ears with cotton might mean all your online friends leave you behind.  So it is nice, despite my initial outrage, to have a company show their hand for the customer’s benefit well before they “need” to. 

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13 thoughts on “A DLC Too Far”

  1. Indeed, and according to Alec Meer in the RPS comments thread about it, “Having played much of the full game (but embargoed till next week), I can at least assure you this isn’t a case of holding back content for DLC – it’s genuinely adding on, not cynically putting back in.”

    Sounds like it’s definitely going to be an interesting game.

    1. edit: and I’m not a compulsive KTR reader, slavering as i wait for the next post! it’s 2am here in NZ, I’m just being a normal MMO player, honest!

  2. Somewhat tangentially, the single player Dragon Age: Origins has DLC queued up for release day as well. I just don’t understand why they do that…. let people play the game a while before asking for more money.

    1. Because now you know at the outset that DLC is planned, coming, available, etc. Otherwise the game really doesn’t become a service. If they release DLC months from now after you are done with the game, you think you will get excited enough to shell out $10 or whatever? Would you be more excited if you had Dragon Age or Borderlands DLC to look forward to instead? I think so.

  3. I was thinking something similar about Dragon Age, and I quite like the idea. It’s nice to know they’re planning a stream of module type content if I want to keep playing after I’ve finished the game.

  4. Maybe you are over reacting Ravious. Gearbox have already confirmed that the DLC is not a necessary purchase. Those who purchase the basic game can still have hours of fun in the character creator, the multiplayer lobby and the game configuration menu. You only have to buy the DLC if you want to have quests and NPCs in the game. Apparently there is another DLC pack in the works that will allow players to wield weapons and use skills.

    1. That’s funny stuff, but it does point to the general perception problem with DLC. At what point is it ‘extra’ instead of ‘expected’.

      Dragon Age better be 100% complete out of the box (bugs that will be patched aside), and all the DLC better be stuff ON TOP of that finished game. If the DLC is the last 2 hours of the game, whether I know up front or not it’s not going to sit well (or rather, will just cause me to skip it at release and buy it once the ‘full’ game is available as a $40 bundle deal on D2D)

      (And yes, that is somewhat hypocritical coming from a sub-based MMO fan, but like I said, it’s more of a perception problem than anything else)

    2. Oh! I look forward to the DLC weapon pack but at least we can equip cosmetic weapons for free as we stand in the lobby.

      1. I hope that they use some arcane coins system where you buy coins with real money first, then buy their stuff with your coins.

        1. One can only hope the amount of coins you can buy is a set number, and then the stuff you buy with the coins is in amounts that don’t match up with the amount you have to pay.

          Nothing makes me happier than paying $10 for 500 coins (with no cheaper option), and having something cost 550 coins in the shop.

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