Monday, 13 August 2012

More Musings from The Witcher Team: DLC for Free

Even though I've never played the game I have to admit that I'm liking these guys more and more.

Although the full interview isn't up yet, the small teaser of an interview with Witcher 2 developer Konrad Tomaszkiewicz has produced something interesting already. The thought is that after game DLC, at least in its current form, should be free. What was said about it is as follows:

“We’ve always believed in free DLCs. The thing is that we consider DLCs as a normal post sale service, which shouldn’t be priced. Back when retail games were dominant, we had expansion packs. These were really large chunks of content, which were worth their price.”

“If today’s DLCs offered the same amount of content,” Tomaszkiewicz continued, “they would be worth paying for, but in most cases players think they are overcharged for what they receive. That’s why we offer expansions to our game for free. This is also a way of saying “thank you” to the people who decided to buy our game instead of copying it from an unauthorised source.”

Now as intriguing as this line of thought is I can't really imagine that a lot of companies are going to be scrambling to make free DLC. At the same time I can see where Tomaszkiewicz is coming from; in some cases DLC seems more like an additional mission that really should have been part of the final product, or certainly not a stand alone ten or fifteen dollar download.

The idea that a lot of cosmetic stuff is also packaged as DLC which doesn't even really have new content like levels, characters, items, or anything, is also deeply troubling all things considered. Before you say that it can't happen I do ask that you remember things like the cosmetic horse armour for The Elder Scrolls which while eventually changed was initially just that: something that looked pretty and nothing more.

I think one of the things that I can potentially see "free" DLC as being used for is inspiring customer loyalty. The Witcher has already done this, and to a certain extent so has Team Fortress 2; they've both offered content that they could have marketed as purchase only and made it available to everyone, thus earning community respect and a stronger playerbase.

One of the roots of this statement though, has to come from some of the discontent that people have had with downloadable content on the whole. While it's not a new thing due to the idea of expansion packs and the like it has taken on a new life ever since both consoles and the PC have been able to share in the market of it.

While some DLC is worth it, there's undoubtedly some that most certainly is not, and when you've bought a new piece of content that turns out to only be an hour long, you can't help but feel jiped. Whether this means that the price of the DLC needs to go down, more content needs to be added, or some combination of both remains to be seen. However, one thing is clear, if a piece of DLC doesn't seem to be worth it, then simply don't buy it; speaking with your wallet is one way to get a company to listen, and if enough people do it, then change is probably bound to happen sooner than later.

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