If you’ve listened to the podcast at all I’m sure you’ve heard me bring it up. Most of the gaming industry has gone through a transformation over the past few years where we seem to be getting less and less from the “vanilla” version of a newly released game and are being tricked into buying the “deluxe” or “special edition” of a game that has “bonus content.” We have led publishers and developers to think that it’s fine for them to release unfinished games or games that are finished but lock us behind a pay wall cleverly marketed as “bonus content” or even worse, “Day One DLC.” Now I am not saying that continued support for a game by adding additional story arcs or more multiplayer maps and modes is a bad thing. After all, if it’s a game you enjoy, you’re surely going to enjoy having more content to play. My argument here is that there is a fine line between truly “bonus” content, and the developers just boning us.
Can it be done correctly? Absolutely. For instance, the downloadable characters that were added into Super Smash Bros. 4 over the year and a half after its release were not over priced and were completely justified when you know how much work goes into balancing the characters and making sure the game can still maintain it’s competitive nature. Mario Kart 8 was another situation where you were given three additional drivers, four additional vehicles, and two additional cups (eight more courses) for a very reasonable price. What so many companies do is charge us $30-$40 for something that’s not entirely worth it. So yes, there can be scenarios where for the right price and the right content, I cannot be mad at a company continuing to support the community of gamers keeping their game alive, because creating new content means people working and people getting paid.
That being said, I am hoping that what Nintendo started with Splatoon and what Blizzard is continuing to do with Overwatch is the trend we are going to see from more and more developers. For those of you not privy to what I am talking about, it’s that both Splatoon (when it was still going on) and Overwatch continue to offer new content over time for free. We are talking about Nintendo, the company that has re-released so many of it’s classic games in physical releases and digitally on the Virtual Console on three different machines. They know people will spend money. I’d spend money, but the fact that both of these companies have made a decision with brand new IP’s, to make all of the additional content free. Knowing that they are turning down hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in revenue to instead, stimulate the community of gamers who love those two games and potentially not alienating more casual gamers who maybe don’t want to spend extra money, or possibly the newcomers who might not want to jump in on a game a year later if there’s going to be an additional $30-$40 paywall to get where everyone else is.
The point I am getting at is that Nintendo and Blizzard are two of the most important game makers in the industry, and if they are creating trends, I hope that the rest of the industry follows suit. Not everyone will, we know some developers are chasing that dollar and of course in some scenarios you are going to have to pay employees, but this fills me with all the hope in the galaxy, that some of these developers aren’t just in it for the business, but that they are in it because they are gamers.