EA: Complaints About On-Disc DLC Are 'Nonsense'
from the tomato,-tomahto dept
We’ve long discussed how game downloadable content (DLC) can be done right, but more often than not it’s done very, very wrong. On the positive side you have CD Projekt Red, who recently decided to offer two free pieces of DLC for The Witcher 3 every week for months, helping to build a positive relationship with fans while keeping the game consistently in the public (and media’s) eye. More often than not however you have efforts like Bungie’s recent flubs with Destiny, or Ubisoft’s pretty but incredibly shitty DLC approach to Assasin’s Creed, Unity.
And then there’s EA, whose quality control issues, treatment of employees and obsession with low-value microtransactions are now legendary in the gaming industry. The company has made nickel and diming DLC high art, at times stuffing $60 launch titles with dozens of pieces of DLC at $5 or more a pop — already embedded on the disc. Whether you like this idea or not, there’s little debate that EA has quite often pushed the idea of microtransactions too far.
But what you might call obnoxious and greedy, EA COO Peter Moore continues to call “innovative value proposition.” Speaking recently to Gamespot, Moore quite-proudly proclaimed that it’s “nonsense” to believe publishers sell incomplete titles in order to make money off of missing content:
“A lot of that resistance comes from the erroneous belief that somehow companies will ship a game incomplete, and then try to sell you stuff they have already made and held back. Nonsense. You come and stand where I am, next to Visceral’s studio, and you see the work that is being done right now. And it’s not just DLC, this is free updates and ongoing balance changes.”
Well, one, things like “free updates” and “balance changes” are part of routine maintenance for a title, and since they often involve fixing bugs — aren’t really part of the conversation. Still, Moore would prefer it if gamers thought about future EA DLC as if it were “APIs,” not content already on the disc that customers should have gotten with the original game:
“Think of them as APIs,” he said. “Knowing down the road that something needs to sit on what you’ve already made, means you have to put some foundations down. What people are confused about is they think DLC is secretly on the disc, and that it’s somehow unlocked when we say.”
And sure, Moore’s not entirely wrong. Many are quick to point out that in modern game development, DLC quite often runs parallel and separate from core game design, and the core structure of DLC developed at a later date often exists on disc to make integration easier. Few deny that, and DLC can certainly be done well. But DLC did in fact start with many developers shaving core content off of the original game to make an extra buck, and there’s little doubt that many titles are left intentionally sparse so users need to acquire pricey DLC to fully flesh them out. Moore also ignores the unholy atrocity that is pre-order DLC bonuses, which involves only being able to get a vast array of content if you pre-order from select vendors.
Cumulatively, the frequency of poorly-implemented microtransactions is still annoying, and it’s certainly not “nonsense” if the modern gamer feels that the value proposition of many modern titles from AAA developers has slowly been circling the toilet. On the flip side, it has been interesting to watch the resistance to poorly-implemented DLC slowly erode over the years. Back in 2011, gamer disdain for nickel and dime DLC was utterly palpable. During the first quarter of this year, “extra content” generated roughly $921 million out of EA?s total digital revenue of $2.2 billion, meaning there are plenty of people who now either think DLC offers a great value position or have more disposable income than brains. I personally ignore 99.7% of all DLC.
Granted Moore is the same guy who tried to argue that EA won Consumerist’s “The Worst Company In America” poll simply because it’s big. And EA is the same company that consumes talented developers and shits out broken dreams as a matter of course. As such, EA’s probably the last one gamers should ask when trying to differentiate value from a heaping $5 pile of nonsensical, supplementary horse excrement.