Sunday, March 11, 2012

Former BioWare Goon Calls-Out Gamers For Bitching About Day-1 DLC

Here's the deal: a character who worked for BioWare (now over at Riot Games), who goes by the name of Christina Norman, has given the middle-finger (Kotaku's words, shared by me) to gamers who believe that Day-1 DLC - or, rather, the "Industry's Mushroom Print" - is a complete sham/utter disgrace to the game it's for. Pulled from Kotaku, she spoke at GDC recently:

"There's no point in releasing DLC a year after your game has come out when most people have already sold your game back to GameStop three times. That means getting it out early; that means even day-one DLC. That is a terrible thing to some players. Players rant—they know nothing about this DLC that's coming out except its name. But then it's 'oh this game must be incomplete, the game must be ruined.' Game developers are not evil. (Some are evil.) But most are not evil. We just want to release awesome stuff. Players please, give us a chance. Judge our games based on what they are. Judge the DLC based on what it is. Stop thinking you're a producer and telling us when and where we should be building our content."

There's a problem with that, something that commenter Eight-Bit Generation put in such elegant words that I'm reposting it here, with permission (the entire thread can be viewed here):

"My two cents, since I’m one of those folks who isn’t buying these games because of the DLC practices.

The points continually being thrown around by supporters of these practices (like Christina Norman and some Kotaku commenters) seem to amount to these:

1) Players are not "entitled" to anything. (The "let your wallet speak for itself" argument.)

2) People will get "fired" if they aren’t making DLC in the space between going gold and release. (The "watch out for the little guy/developer" argument.)

3) Players are "hurting" the industry by not supporting these practices. (The "shame on you" argument.)

4) Players "don’t understand" how game development works, so they shouldn’t get angry when a company decides to jack up prices on particular titles on the backend and deprive them of access to everything on the discs they pay for. (The "you haven’t done it, so you can’t judge it" argument.)

To all of those I say: Bullshit.Players ARE entitled to not getting disrespected by the companies they’re buying products from. Consumers actually ARE entitled to know the full contents of what they’re buying, at least in America. The ME3 and SFvT DLC are not inherently disrespectful, but the way that the companies treated them certainly is. If it weren’t, so many people wouldn’t be getting pissed about it.

I said in another thread on SFvT that I’d be fine with their on-disc DLC if the packaging said it was in there. E.g. "Includes characters for additional fees on disc." Or, "Microtransactions for additional content included!" Instead, both of these were cases where the company didn’t say peep about this content being on-disc and it required an XBLA flub-up and someone hacking the SFvT disc for us to find out. It’s a classic attempt at pulling the wool over consumers’ eyes. That’s disingenuous and disrespectful, and yes, that matters.

Because for all intents and purposes, Mass Effect 3 was $70 out of the gate. SFvT is $84 out of the gate. Consumers should be told that up front, on the box, in person.
The other arguments, like watching out for the little guy, are a bit ridiculous. If the company is over-hiring for a product to pump out day 1 DLC, that’s not the consumer’s fault. Moreover, it doesn’t apply to on-the-disc gated day 1 DLC regardless. (This is in response to that chart that keeps popping up.)

The idea that players are "hurting the industry" is disingenuous because it’s not the players setting the prices or doing these things. To be honest, I feel the industry has a pretty solid tack on how to deal with re-sales of games with the online pass type approach. It rubs a few people the wrong way, but most I think see it for what it is. But that’s starkly different from loyal, new-game purchasers being asked later in the same day to pay $10 for relevant in-game content that’s on that disc.

Finally, that one about how we "don’t know what it’s like". That’s really more of an ad hominem. You’re attacking the person rather than the argument and invalidating their opinion because they aren’t a game producer. While being a producer might add weight to the argument, not being one doesn’t invalidate it.

This isn’t a rant. This is me explaining why those arguments don’t really hold water. You know, if DLC works like this and most people go for it, then the companies got it right. But I can tell you right here and now that I have not bought and will not buy Mass Effect 3 or SFvT because of the DLC practices they embraced. I’m speaking with my wallet, and now I’m here explaining why these companies didn’t get my $70 and $84 respectively.

Finally, in response to this: "We just want to release awesome stuff."

Then do so. But do it in a way that doesn’t piss off a lot of players. If you think your game is worth $70, charge $70. Or be up front about what you’re selling us. Respect your customers enough to realize we know when we’re being jerked around.