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Trevor Wagner

GameGavel Discusses: Long-term Game Support and DLC

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This week on GameGavel Discusses, Kevin Hummons and Anthony Wastella, both of them being writers for GameGavel, are our guests.

They join me to talk about long term support for gaming, DLC in general, and what the current situation is.


Trevor Wagner: Alright, welcome to GameGavel discusses. This week, I've got Anthony Wastella and Kevin Hummons with me.

Anthony Wastella: Hello gents.

Kevin Hummons: 'Ello.

T.W.: So, today we're gonna be talking about long term support for games. As most of you know, the Engineer Update for Team Fortress 2 was released yesterday. It included 4 new weapons for the Engineer (three of which were completely new, not different versions of a previous item), a new sentry type, and 3 new maps. It was a huge update, and it was anticipated for quite a while.

K.H.: Twitter pretty much fuckin' exploded.

A.W.: It's the most radically changing class update ever I do believe.

T.W.: I agree with you guys, on both accounts. I love playing the Engi, so I was excited. So, it's been just under 3 years since Team Fortress 2 was released, and Valve is still making huge updates to the game, which is great in my opinion. But it raises kind of an interesting topic - do you guys think that giving a game long term support is worth it, or do you think the resources should just be put into making another game, whether it be a new IP, a sequel, etc.

K.H.: Well in the case of Team Fortress it only makes sense really. It's a multiplayer game, it has a community, and it needs that kind of expansiveness in order to maintain those vitals. I mean look at L4D2 and the controversy it struck. That's bad for business in a multiplayer driven game. Plus, it's PC and PC guys are more accustomed to squeezing every drop they can. So there are a lot of factors that make TF2 more viable as a platform than simply as a game.

A.W.: Valve promised updates for L4D in conjunction with L4D2. We haven't really gotten that, but it seems a moot issue for Valve with new infection types every week in 2. The gradual changes for TF2 make it more than just a game, and I agree with Kevin that they have basicly made a platform within the platform of steam.

T.W.: So, you guys are obviously with me in that TF2 getting long term support is great, but what about in other games? Should games get long term support as a general rule of thumb, or is it only on a case-by-case basis?

A.W.: So many things happen from TF2 that Valve has no part in, such as Gary's mod for instance, and then there was the platformer that was crafted from the game.

K.H.: Definitely case-by-case I think. Like I don't think it makes sense for FFXIII to a bunch of DLC. It's like the difference between a film and a TV show. Somethings just shouldn't be expanded. They should have a beginning and an end.

A.W.: With multiplayer games, more DLC is a great way for devs to keep costs down, and valve has essentially molded a new game out of tf2 over the years and updates, dramatically changing how the game is played. Single player DLC feels like it's tacked on trying to shoehorn in story and more stuff just to squeeze money from the leftover assets

K.H.: Well sometimes I think that single-player DLC can be justified. Like I think Heavy Rain DLC can be justified as a platform for telling stories. And I think the GTA DLC can be justified too as being spin-offs.

A.W.: the GTA DLC essentially was whole new games, they even bundled them at retail I think. If it's not trying to shoehorn into the main story from the game I can see it working well, like Fallout 3's massive amount of content that was released, it worked because they stood on their own, like all the rest of the quests in the game

T.W.: So, now onto a much more debatable topic: how do you guys feel about paying for DLC, versus free DLC?

K.H.: It depends. I'm definitely completely fine with paying for all my DLC if it's appropriately priced. Even if it's just an extra gun in Mass Effect 2. If that extra gun is like $ 0.50 I really don't care. I'm fine with paying for all my DLC as long as it isn't ridiculous. Free DLC is just a cherry topper as far as I'm concerned.

A.W.: I am willing to pay for it, but Valve spoils PC players with all the free updates they release. The console side players have to pay for the updates. 360's orange box has none of the PC versions updates because of Microsoft's system of charging for everything.

K.H.: That's true. I'm a console boy so I'm in the habit of paying for everything.

T.W.: So, would you guys pay $15 for an update like the Engineer update? And if you'd pay for that, what about Modern Warfare 2's $15 map packs?

K.H.: For the Engineer update I don't know since that's a thing that could potentially break the game if the rich players have it and the others don't. But for the MW2 map packs I would totally pay for it.

T.W.: Well, lemme rephrase that. Obviously, someone not having the pack would put you at a disadvantage. For that amount of content, would you pay $15?

A.W.: Map packs for multiplayer games on consoles really hurt players in the wallets because 9/10 times they are high priced but console players suck it up like bitches. I have done that once maybe, for gears 2. Engi update I would have paid for, but valve would have had to have updates to all classes at once if it was to be sold, since each class update radically alters gameplay

K.H.: Yeah, I would pay for $15 for the MW2 packs. Mind you I have a few hundred dollars worth of Rock Band DLC and that's not nearly as versatile as a map.

A.W.: Theoretically it would need to have been bundled with all past class updates to a clean TF2 out of Orange Box for 20 bucks. The MW2 packs feel over priced by comparison to past standards of map packs. 2 new maps and ported old maps doesn't equate to 15 bucks of work. Rock Band is an ideal of how a pay system should work, with the frequency of the updates. And the reasonable prices, it doesn't feel like it hurts the wallet so much.

T.W.: I agree with Tony on this one. I'd buy the TF2 updates, but $15 for five maps, two of them being new is a bit skewed to me. And yeah, the system Rock Band 2 uses is nice.

K.H.: Yeah, I will say with Rock Band DLC you're paying $20 for an album but when songs individually are $2 and there's like 15+ songs that is quite a value. I guess it's a personal value thing too. Like if I sucked into hundreds of hours into MW2 $15 for a few maps would be really good for me because i know I'm going to get hours and hours out of that. That's why I don't mind dumping like $200 of my paycheck into Rock Band DLC at reasonable intervals of the year. Because I know I'm going to play the shit out of every one of those songs.

A.W.: Halo and gears map packs were pretty reasonably priced, 800 points I think? Close to 10 dollars, but it's pretty ballsy of Activision to charge 15 bucks on 3 maps of work. Porting an old map to a new engine isn't that costly. Halo and Gears' 4-5 new maps with an old map maybe was worth that price I think. I'm not trying to be biased against Activision. But, it's really easy to be.

K.H.: See, that's the thing about my perspective of DLC. I'm not really looking at it in the sense of "How much did it cost them to blah blah blah." My concern is how much value will I personally get.

A.W.: I don't see my self getting that much value from the maps they added, well I didn't feel like I got value to warrant 60 from the full retail. So I was happy to get 50ish for it on a trade. I felt cheated and burned I guess you can say and I was trapped in the hype-train

K.H.: Sucka.

T.W.: I dislike Activision's method, but from a business perspective, they were smart. I mean, think about how many people bought the map packs. I like the DLC setup for GTAIV and TF2. The pricing structure is another thing entirely, but Kevin's right - it's all about how much time you think you can get out of it.

K.H.: Yeah, like the only maps I would buy ever if I bought maps would be Halo maps because I play a ton of Halo with my bros. Now, I do buy RPG DLC. Specifically Bioware DLC. I replay those games like crazy.

T.W.: Now, do you think that it's worth the effort on the companies part, or should they put the time and money into making another game, whether it's a sequel or a new IP?

A.W.: I just didn't see the value for mw2, since the game lost it's fun once camping and double shotguns rule

K.H.: Mmmm....it depends.

A.W.: I'm happy if they expand the game that I already own

K.H.: Sometimes it depends on how much I liked the game. Like I thought Dragon Age was bollocks. I was kind of annoyed that they kept putting DLC into it instead unsuckifying it immediately with some kind of a follow-up. I dunno. But, ya know, they just announced that this week so I guess that complaint is moot.

A.W.: Well I think the best case of this might be ODST. They gave a new story and a compilation of all the maps for multiplayer, and a horde mode. That sounded like it was worth near full price. Not $60 for me, but maybe $40-$50.

K.H.: I really did not expect to love ODST as much as I did. Totally justified for retail. That game was...wow. And I spent most of my time in single player which is saying a lot for a Halo game.

A.W.: Since it was originally a small thing that grew. Anyway, yeah I have yet to pick it up because I got jaded after MW2's afterbirth soured my taste for shooters right around it's launch.

K.H.: Definitely pick it up. I promise you you won't regret it. I GameFly'd it and wept when I had to return it.

A.W.: Adding quests like Bioware and Bethesda does, that really expands the game's scope is really worthwhile to me. Gears 2 tried that but didn't mesh the level with the story mode sadly, which bummed me out of getting it

T.W.: Well, I think we've about covered all we can this week as far as game support and DLC goes, since we're starting to repeat ourselves. A big thank you to Kevin Hummons and Anthony Wastella for joining me this week.

K.H.: Peace out.

A.W.: It was a pleasure as always Trevor.


Alright, well, that was GameGavel Discusses for this week, I'm your host Trevor Wagner, and join us next week when we talk about more... stuff.

Trevor Wagner
GameGavel.com Writer




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Thanks,
Mike

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Updated 13-08-10 at 09:00 by SteveSawyer

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