Opinion: Why Are We Letting Publishers Get Away With Ripping Us Off?

Think back to the last game you bought, chances are there was some download content ready and waiting for you within days, if not on the first day that it released. Since when and why have we let this happen?

We as consumers hold the buying power; it’s our money that funds the development of games and keeps the big publishers piggy banks tinkling with coins. Not so long ago you could buy a game and guarantee that you were more or less getting the full package, with any additional add-ons being genuine after thoughts by the developers, or at least worth releasing separately from the main game.

One of the most popular DLC items are multiplayer maps. We pay through the nose for the extra digital playgrounds, sometimes equal to the cost of the actual game.

Take Epic’s Gears of War as an example. The Xbox 360/PC exclusive shipped with 10 multiplayer maps, with a further 6 being added free of charge at a later date as well as a new game mode, also free of charge. It should be noted that the second map pack was put on sale for a small fee due to the insistence of Microsoft, but Epic released them free of charge some time after allowing them to be sold.

So that’s a total of 16 maps and a new game mode, all for the price of nothing (if you waited of course.) Not a bad deal, plus it was when the retail prices for games weren’t ridiculously high. Gears of War could be picked up for £29.99 brand new, and that’s not with any special discounts either, that’s from UK retailer GAME.

8 years later and we have Call of Duty and Battlefield dominating the sales charts whilst retailing between £49.99 – £54.99 depending on which platform you buy for, although you can pay even MORE if you buy the digital copy of the game where there’s no shipping costs, no manufacturing costs and no overheads. Baffling, eh?

Call of Duty: Ghosts released on the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, PS4 and PS3 with a decent amount of maps, granted. Then Activision decided that we need even more maps and that we should pay £10 a pop for four maps! FOUR. MAPS. That’s a quarter of the games price for less than a 1/10 of the content. We wouldn’t have stood for it back in 2006, so why do we allow it to happen now? More to the point, why are we encouraging this?

It’s not the biggest deal and it could be remedied by lowering the price, because at £10 a go it’s a blatant rip off. Still, the first-person shooters aren’t even the worst offenders…

I can’t not mention Destiny in this piece, so if you’ve got a strong love for the game and can’t bear to hear a bad word spoken about it, skip this next paragraph.

Destiny is a decent game, I enjoyed it and I still do (review here). There’s some room for improvement, sure – oh wait, what? Activision is going to sell the improvement to us? Yes they are. Destiny was intentionally released in its “bare bones” state for the sole purpose of selling extra content down the road. It’s how MMO-type games work. They draw you in and get you hooked, knowing that you’ll keep playing even when the fun-factor starts to wear thin, then BAM: Hey look, we’ve got some new content for you! Content that should have really been released with the game in the first place. It isn’t just Destiny that’s guilty of this, there’s many out there that rely on the same principles but as Destiny is still fresh in everyone’s minds, it just makes sense to use it as an example. Instead of releasing a “finished” product, we were handed what was deemed “enough” and then told to wait for the rest, which we can purchase at a later date. It’s just a little bit insulting to be honest, but as long as the cash keeps pouring into the bank they’ll keep on doing it.

The same goes for EA’s The Sims 4 which was released as bare-bones as you could imagine, removing features that were previously standard in Sims 2 & 3 with the intention of selling them on bit by bit as DLC. It’s one thing to charge a stupid amount for a game, but it’s completely unjustified to actively rip-off the people who make the games possible. EA and developer Maxis know that people are pissed at their decisions, Maxis even went as far as threatening to end the series if not enough copies of The Sims 4 were sold. Awkward…

Do you remember back in the days of the PlayStation 2, GameCube and the original Xbox where extra characters and special costumes for your digital avatars were free of charge? In fact, they weren’t even seen as free, they were a part of the game as unlockable bonuses that kept you playing the same game again and again. These days if you want some extra characters you’ll have to stump up a few extra quid, the same goes for character costumes which are nothing more than a simple paint job, yet we’re expected to pay up to a quarter of the games value for them.

Call me old-fashioned, call me a grumpy git with a firm grip on his wallet, but I for one don’t agree with the practice of day-one DLC. I do agree with DLC that actually brings something meaningful to the game, a prime example being Rockstar’s Episodes From Liberty City and Red Dead Nightmare, both of which cost £10 yet were fully fledged games that provided another 15-20 hours of fun.

DLC is both a blessing and a curse, but we’ve only ourselves to blame; we buy into the hype every time a new piece of DLC is announced,we hand over the cash without a second thought as to whether we’re getting value for money, we even have trailers for map-packs. Trailers. For map-packs. New lows man, new lows.

At the end of the day we’re the ones who are ultimately responsible for what becomes the norm in the industry, our wallets are powerful weapons (not just on a night out.) Just take a look at the movie industry – if not enough money is made from the box office and DVD/Blu-Ray sales, don’t expect a sequel. If people don’t like the movie, they don’t see it. Maybe it’s time to start acting the same with our games – if we don’t like the business practice, don’t support it. That isn’t a license to go pirating games either, so keep that parrot off your shoulder.

Do you think download content has gotten to the point where it’s just blatantly ripping us off? Or do you not mind being sold bits of your game, piece by piece? Post a comment down below, but first buy the Ultimate Edition Comment Pack featuring 2 new fonts and an exclusive translation weapon.

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