Premium Content

Monday, May 11, 2009
I understand that a business survives by it's profits. I can allow that the end goal of most developers is to make money, not art (unless that art makes money). What I can't allow is developers charging for what amounts to a patch.

This has become a bigger issue recently, with the Resident Evil 5 Versus debacle. More specifically, I'm talking about the latest DLC for Fallout 3, Broken Steel. The DLC up to this point has been good, if a little temperamental (read; broken) but Broken Steel is a little different. Broken Steel actually changes the static ending for Fallout 3 so that it's greater storyline may unfold. Essentially it's the Epilogue or the game. Most fans of the series see it as a fix or Fallout's disappointing ending. I won't spoil the disappointment for those of you who haven't beaten the game yet.

The issue with this fix is that Bethesda has chosen to charge about $10 for it. Essentially, we're paying them to fix an earlier mistake. Never mind the fact that the DLC doesn't always work (read; freezing) we're paying for maintenance? I know you built a big new quest for the game but we all know your ending was flawed. Couldn't you at least charge less for this DLC than the last two?

This issue is the same reason I have trouble playing MMO's. I'm old school. I like to pay for my game once and no more. Occasional expansions are fine, but I can't pay for a game once a month, every month until I die or quit playing. Don't get me wrong, the games are great, but I have so little time to invest in a single title that it just isn't economical for me.

Games like Fallout 3 shouldn't need to charge us for a game fix. Granted, most free patches are strictly under the hood fixes but should a gameplay fix, an alternate ending, be viewed any differently? I don't think so.

Back on the subject of Resident Evil 5, some things just shouldn't be. First off, competitive multiplayer in a game where to shoot, you have to sand still? Not happening. Second, asking me to pay for something that, contrary to Capcoms claims, comes on the disk I already paid $65 for? You're out of your zombified minds.

Valve knows how to do it right. The regular updates for Team Fortress 2 and the recent addition to Left 4 Dead have all been free. Free and awesome. Who doesn't love the "Sandvich?" I've loved the additional levels to Left 4 Dead, each one is as complex as the ones packed on the game disk. How does Valve manage to keep these packs free? Well it helps that they're smaller than many other developers, privately funded and have heavy hitting games like Half-Life to fill their coffers.

I'm fine with paying for a little extra in my game. Hell, I love extending the life of my games as much as possible. But should we expect the same charges for basic fixes that we do for expansions and episodic DLC? I surely hope not. My solitary rambling won't change a damn thing, I'm sure, and the download numbers for Broken Steel certainly aren't indicative of an industry change. The only thing that can change this is us. If enough people give a damn about this issue (I don't think enough do) we might get a price reduction, or maybe even free download day. Is it all worth the effort? We'll see.