The Problem With Pre-release DLC

Have a look at the comments on this article, announcing the £20 season pass & DLC for new Lord of the Rings game, Shadow of Mordor.

If you can’t bring yourself to turn off your comment-blocking plugin and trawl through the bile (and I don’t blame you), I’ve got some here.

The Season Pass content in full:
– [insert a bunch of content we cut from the game so we could sell it separately as DLC]

Oh god. I was thinking about buying this game. But seeing this has put me off as I realize I would only be getting half a game…

It looks like a great game, and I’m thinking of getting it – but I don’t want to get nickel and dimed if I want to fight Sauron..

I remember when extra content came out a year later as an expansion if the game was good. Now they make it all before the game is even released and sit back whilst they charge us to get the full version of the game.

this clearly isn’t additional content, it’s content held back from the game in order to charge you extra. If the main game cost thirty quid then that’d be ok, but not at full price.

These are pretty typical of the reaction to finding out that DLC content is underway (or even completed) for the game, before it’s released. Worst of all, in the eyes of gamers, is content already on the disc (and therefore developed alongside the standard content) – the recent reveal that Destiny DLC is in the region of 9Mb per download stirred up these comments again.

Developers reading this will probably be thinking “yes, but all of this stuff has to be budgeted for. And with the rising price of developing a AAA game, the amount of stuff that you get for your £50 is shrinking. So although this stuff’s developed at the same time, or planned well in advance, it’s being paid for out of a different pot – the DLC pot.”

While that may well be true (it’s been a few years since I’ve seen a AAA budget, but that was certainly the way things were heading the last time I did), explaining it doesn’t seem to help. Players don’t care about your budget, or how the accountants and project managers are splitting everything up. And nor should they. In the same way that it’s not the end player’s concern that Destiny cost $500m. They paid £50, they want to feel they are getting their money’s worth.

The problem with pre-release DLC is a colossal messaging cock-up between developers, publishers, and their customers. One that really needs to be resolved.