(WARNING: The following is an article about video games. Those brought to tears by geeky and nerdy topics may be offended. Reader discretion is advised)
You know things are getting pretty bad in the video game industry when I have a harsh word, nay a slurry of harsh words to say about a proud and excellent franchise. Sadly, things are apparently that bad.
Rocksteady, the company that has provided us with the excellent Batman games Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, has built up a good degree of goodwill concerning the Batman franchise. Their two games (remember that the putrid Arkham Origins game was made by Warner Bros. Games Montreal) won a great deal of deserving awards and I have no doubt that the final game in the trilogy, Arkham Knight (scheduled for release on June 23rd, 2015) will be a triumph. Except for the horribly irresponsible and greeting manipulation of the consumer with their $40 Season Pass.
For those uninitiated in the video game know-how world, after a game is released, the company often releases add-ons to the game for a fee. This is called DLC, or “downloadable content,” and is a way to extend the life of the game and to make a few bucks along the way. Ordinarily, it’s just a few bucks each and doesn’t insult the customer all that much. This Season Pass, however, takes the consumer, locks them into a vice, applies a straw to every orifice on them and squeezes every last cent out of their wallet.
So here’s the deal…you, the lucky consumer, get to spend $60 to buy the game itself. But if you want to play some more content that includes some maps, some race tracks (race tracks in Batman? Whatever!), and some additional skins (a collection of colored pixels that are applied to the main character to effectively turn them into another character, but offers no real benefit to doing so). But you can only get that if you pay an additional $40. So you have to pay roughly 67% of the full price of the game for this crap. Enticing.
Anybody remember a little game called Evolve? I seem to remember doing an article on that one and lighting into them for the same thing. And how many people still play that piece of crap? Well there’s Eddie from Accounting and Marsha from Consulting, so there’s two. Other than that, none that I know of. This kind of uncontrolled greed and obvious contempt for the consumer cannot be ignored. Rocksteady, whose reputation as I have said is impeccable, will suffer a reputation hit on this, but I have no doubt that its Warner Brothers that is behind this. Sadly, since Warner Brothers holds majority ownership of Rocksteady, I must lump them both together in my assignment of shame on this one.
What’s the solution to this problem? How can we collectively solve this little dilemma? The obvious answer is simply “don’t buy it” and I urge everyone to NOT buy the Season Pass for Arkham Knight. But the real problem is that making quality video games does not come cheap. Triple A games cost over $100 million to make and deserve to reap a hefty profit for their investment in money, time, and quality output.
The industry itself, however, has not changed due to this increase in costs. Video games have cost the consumer roughly the same price for decades. My solution is to raise the price of the game depending on its production cost with a cap dictated by the market. Want to make a darn good game? Charge $75 for it and include all DLC right off the bat. The consumer will know what they are getting into and they can adjust their game buying habits accordingly.
This continued over-inflation of DLC and Season Pass prices need to be stopped. You’re insulting the consumer and making yourself look terrible in the process. What’s next, buying horse armor in an Elder Scrolls Game? Oh…oops…still touchy about that.