Big Publishers Abusing DLC, Expansion Packs Have Hurt Indie Devs
We've reached a sort of apex of aversion for most things microtransaction related. Any time a big or small company mentions the word microtransaction, it's met with all sorts of community abjection, complaints and whining (not always without merit). The main problem is that this kind of attitude hurts indie devs much more than the bigger publishers.
You would be hard pressed to find a game in today's gaming climate that isn't laced with DLC from front to back or doesn't have a rather expansive microtransaction store. DLC has become the norm.
Now some of the downloadable content made available to the community isn't all that bad... some of it is quite good, even.
But then there are the bad apples, the rotten fruit, the distasteful crops; there are things like the annual subscriptions for $60 retail games, the on-disc DLC, the cash shop stores built on top of a game that's supposed to be complete, and worst of all, story characters and endings stripped from the game and resold at a premium price.
We've been seeing a constant and continued trend of DLC seeping further and further into a game's core content, even going as far as charging extra for multiplayer. I mean, obviously, multiplayer isn't part of the core game anymore, right?
These shady tactics had brought rise to a group of pro-corporate defenders, yelling at the top of their lungs that “None of this is essential to the game” and that “DLC is just extra content” and that “Endings and secondary characters aren't necessary to complete the game”.
The pro-corporate White Knights have helped fuel an anger in the gaming community unlike any other, leading gamers to become irascible and petulant anytime “DLC” is even mentioned.
The situation has become so bad in the mainstream arena that you have games like DLC Quest that parody the situation, although one could look at it as a forewarning for what's to come.
So what does this have to do with indie devs? Everything.
Unfortunately, the hate us gamers conjure up over the ridiculous schemes brought about from the AAA publishers regarding skeletal expansion packs for premium prices and disc-locked content, has festered over into every aspect of the gaming industry we partake in.
Our hate for day-one DLC and microtransactions rears its head when a company like RSI announces extra crowd-funding options by allowing gamers to fund the game by purchasing in-game accessories. Our execration of announcements for a year's worth DLC six months before the game launches has caused us to fume at poor developers who even consider premium expansion packs, for fear that the main game may suffer in light of the developer seeking ways to financially exploit the community, or in some cases feeling as if too much DLC for a budget priced game borders on exploitation.
In short, gamers aren't actually angry at poor indie devs dabbling in microtransactions or DLC in order to explore other monetary means to maintain their game, they're carrying over their pissed off, tired and wallet-ravaged anger from the AAA sector to the indie boards, the forums, the aggregators, the news threads and the community websites. This mostly spawns from the fact that big companies don't listen and they feel they don't have to.
Indie devs now have it off harder to do expansions and DLC, and have to tread ever-so-carefully because of the executive suits at the big publishing studios who about 100% of the time ignore the community and gouge worse than a heel wrestler whose move-set only consists of eye-gouges.
Given that indie devs have to listen to the community or face certain death, it puts them in a precarious position where they have run a very fine balancing act. The sad reality is that indie devs should be the ones who are able to explore different monetary means and ideas given that they're the only ones moving the industry forward.
Unfortunately, if or when indie devs try different monetary means, they're usually met with the same kind of resistance and hostility one might find in an thread from the Electronic Arts forum board... or even on an article about an Electronic Arts game.
Sadly, indie devs have to deal with a two-fold task of not only rescuing the gaming industry, but they also have to assuage the hate from rage-filled gamers thanks to the imprecations of AAA publishers.
On the up and up, successful Kickstarters have helped restore some of the faith in the gaming community, even while top-tier publishers continue their attempts to destroy that faith in favor of a few extra coins.
The real question is if indie devs will be able to overcome all the damage caused by AAA publishers and bring back prestige and honor to the monetary extras we call “DLC” and “Expansion Packs”?
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