Circus of Values?

a commentary by Chris Von Doom


Let me state this early on:  I'm a fan of DLC/I buy a nice chunk of it.  If I truly love a game I want new reasons to keep playing and happily pay for new and shiny so long as it’s worth it; so long as it has value.

Gearbox’s support of its Borderlands franchise alone made me a believer in the system.  Epic did well with Gears of War as well.  I played these games for months past their release thanks to the developers’ steady supply of new content and, in the case of Gears, server support that while never perfect still allows my friends and I to play Horde mode for hours.

Even though Bungie didn’t exactly beef up the existing content of Destiny’s lacking story, it rekindled a dwindling desire to play and has gotten in my way of finally beating Dragon Age: Inquisition several times and convinced me to also preorder the next expansions, House of Wolves.

There's nothing too far out of what's becoming the norm for major game releases and DLC plans, and yet Turtle Rock Studios’ Evolve feels different.  It may have something to do with the way it was presented to us and described as being built from the ground up to support future content only to see that first bit of future content look rather thin for the asking price.

There's a limit though, and Evolve has smashed it's way through it like a Behemoth.  If you decide not to get the game at launch you will have to pay at least $14.99 for an extra monster (free if you pre-order).  Then, there's the season pass - that gets you skins and four new hunters for $24.99, but don't worry; the hunters will be available for $7.49 each.  Mercifully, the maps will be free.  

Or don't and then pay us $15 later, it's cool.

Or don't and then pay us $15 later, it's cool.

Players like me are willing to pay the asking price so long as it's worth it.  It didn't please everyone, but Irrational Games’ Bioshock: Infinite gave players a whole new way to play the game and allowed them to spend an interesting 4-10 hours in a universe they had come to enjoy. Character skins aside, Gearbox gave us fresh missions, an increased level cap, new weapon types, new weapons period, and two new characters to play with the DLC offered for Borderlands 2.  While the quality of some of the missions is debatable, there is at least substance there.  The plans for this first season pass for Evolve is laughable.

The bigger point at this time in gaming is the concept of value. Will there be folks out there willing to shell out $15 for a single monster or $2 for a new color of pants? Absolutely. Just like there are gamers out there unwilling to spend $60 for a ten hour game.  Value is a relative concept.  Everyone has a different financial spectrum when it comes to these types of purchases.  Developers and their publishers need to be sure that they are upfront and honest with what they are presenting, which is why Evolve is particularly irritating to me while games like Borderlands 2, Destiny and Bioshock: Infinite are acceptable.

Sorry, I hardly buy new pants in real life - not paying to do it here. 

Sorry, I hardly buy new pants in real life - not paying to do it here. 

Gearbox gave us two characters and four campaign expansions, but then slipped up a bit with all the skin packs, something most of us pin on publisher money-grabbing.  The real content had real value to someone wanting to expand their time with the game.  Irrational Games gave us two solid chapters of storytelling and a bit of a new experience.  Sure, that first expansion could have been longer, but it was hard to feel cheated.

At least there was something to Borderlands DLC making it worth it.

At least there was something to Borderlands DLC making it worth it.

I mentioned earlier my decision to trust Bungie and pre-order the upcoming DLC even after the bare bones experience of The Dark Below.  Why?  I’m still playing virtually every day six months after release.  Even if I were to stop today and never touch any future DLC, I'd be a liar if I tried to say I didn't get my money's worth.

I do have to give Take Two and Turtle Rock Studios praise for holding back on offering micro transactions to unlock the in-game monsters and hunters; that would push this game into the realm of unforgivable by this players’ standards. Who knows though - Ubisoft proved this can be profitable on consoles and profit is always the point.

I get that this is all a business. Video game development can be time consuming and expensive and publishers need their cut as well.  If you offer gamers something worthwhile they will buy it.  If we as gamers want real content versus paying for things that should have been included from the start we need to close our wallets instead of opening our mouths.

No one from Gearbox, EA, Ubisoft or Bungie are reading your comments on GameFAQs.  Granted, many do a great job of interacting with their audience via social media or their game specific forums.  Blizzard, Bungie and Bioware are great at interacting with us and even implementing some of our suggestions but the publishers like EA really don’t give a shoot (sorry, my mom might read this) what we think because we keep giving them our money.

A change in cash flow might catch their attention, but honestly this is the future of gaming, folks.  The advice I’ll leave you with is this: don’t be so compulsive when it comes to your purchases.  Take a minute and just think about your perception of value with the time you spend gaming and remember - it’s all fun and games for us but a business for someone.  


Chris Von Doom can be found plotting world domination in South Philly with his trusty Corgi Watson.  When not scheming, he can be found on PSN @chris_von_doom killing Hive and Vex and on Twitter @chrisVondoom.