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As I browsed through the Xbox Live Marketplace a few nights ago, I decided to check out one of the newer Arcade releases: Hasbro Family Game Night. I have a girlfriend that fits the bill of a casual gamer, so I figured that the game might offer something fun for us to do when we're holed up in the mountains to survive the inevitable zombie apocalypse. I selected the game using my janked up "A" button and immediately became confused by the number of downloads available.
You see, the core of Hasbro Family Game Night, the "game room," comes as a free download. Each of the six available games in the package (Battleship, Yahtzee, Boggle, Connect Four, Sorry!, Sorry! Sliders, and Scrabble, once all the games are released) cost 800 Microsoft space-bucks, or ten (failing) American dollars. As I looked at my TV and considered the prices, it became apparent to me that NONE of the games were really worth $10. Ten dead presidents for Connect Four? Nah. An entire Hamilton for Boggle? Pass.
The thing is (and I know this sounds crazy), while I'd gladly pay for a full retail release of the game, separating the game into parts makes me as a consumer totally over think the value (or lack thereof) of each downloadable game, and forced me to see each possible purchase as unwise. How would Battleship even work on a TV? Connect Four is probably the dumbest game ever invented; I'm not paying a whole 10 loot for that! Isn't Scrabble available as a free-to-play flash game or something? Why in the holy name of granola would I shell out 20 bacon for just two versions of Sorry?(I apologize for the lack of exclamation point in the previous mention of Sorry!. It's just really bad for coherent sentence structure.) As these thoughts filled my brain, I quickly exited out of the Xbox Marketplace and began playing the new Chronicles of Riddick game that I'm set to review, content with my decision to not give Hasbro a dime.
Just to give another example, I've recently become fed up with DLC for Burnout Paradise. I respect how much support the developers have given the game in the time since its release (often free support, even!), but it almost feels like now they're taking advantage of the goodwill that they've built up amongst their fans. 640 points for a couple cars, guys? REALLY? What is that, like eight bucks? You've gotta be kidding me! YES, Criterion, I would LOVE to buy some extra cars from you for my game, but I don't want to have to spend $30+ to get them all. Stop attempting rape on my wallet.
I guess that I'm almost asking for less options, but if it were possible to just get all the new Burnout cars for about ten cahonies I'd be stoked. Obviously, that's not the magic number for everyone, but when it comes to additional content for a game that people have already paid $60 for in the first place, it takes a LOT to convince somebody to breach the ten dollar mark unless the experience of the game will be extended in a big time way. And if you do decide to have a lot of different DLC options ala Hasbro Family Game Night, developers should always include a cheaper "whole package" deal that makes it all seem worth it. Also, make sure that the "whole package" deal isn't total crap, like Burnout Paradise's $8 option for two cars in place of the $10 you'd have to fork over if you bought them separately. People like me will be a lot happier, and a lot more likely to pay for their DLC that way. These are hard economic times. We no longer have the urge to pay lots of money for intangible things.