By Fosssil 21 Comments
While we have seen some ridiculous attempts at DLC milking during this console generation (ie. Horse Armor in Oblivion, download-only cheats in Madden 10, and Avatar Clothing on XBLM), up until recently we hadn't seen much in the way of games forcing you to pay for old or previously-owned content just to get at some new goodies. Sadly, two upcoming games are set to break that mold -- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 'Ultimate Sith Edition' and Halo 3: ODST.
If you haven't already heard -- LucasArts recently announced a new 'Ultimate Sith Edition' of last year's hit, The Force Unleashed. The re-release of the game contains the entire original TFU experience, plus the all of the DLC additions to the game that are currently available on XBLM and PSN. In addition, it contains a brand new (non-canon) bonus level that has Vader's Secret Apprentice tracking down and eventually confronting the one and only Luke Skywalker on Hoth. Sounds like a good deal, right? Well it certainly is a great value, provided you were one of those who missed out on the game a year ago. But for someone who has already payed for the game, and perhaps some or all of the DLC, it probably isn't a worthwhile investment. Those customers already own most of the game's content, and probably don't have any reason to pick up the new version. Except...
That awesome-sounding Hoth bonus mission that comes with the game? Yeah, that's ONLY available to those who purchase the 'Ultimate Sith Edition' in all its glory. LucasArts isn't making it available as DLC, or releasing it in any standalone form. So what does that mean for those dedicated fans who bought the game on Day 1 (at full price, no less), and shelled-out additional money to buy the various DLC that the game has received post-launch? It means that those loyal fans are essentially forced to pay for all of that content for a second time if they just want to get their hands on a piece of new content that could (and should) be released as DLC and for a reasonable price. Instead of catering to the faithful customers who helped to make TFU the fastest-selling Star Wars game ever, LucasArts has instead elected to use those customers' loyalty to the game as a way to squeeze some extra money out of them.
The other game "dropping" this holiday season that takes advantage of its dedicated customers to generate some extra money is Halo 3: ODST. Full disclosure -- I'm a big Halo fan. I'm of the opinion that Halo: CE is the single greatest console FPS ever created, and although I'm pretty disappointed with the direction that the series ( specifically the multiplayer) has taken over the years, I still manage to log a few games of Halo 3 online every week. Being the big Halo fan that I am, I bought Halo 3 at 12 AM on September 25th, 2007, and have purchased all of the subsequently released DLC map packs on the day of their release. In total, I've invested $30 into Halo 3 post-release content so that I can continue enjoying all of the available online playlists and continue to have some fresh maps to play. I still enjoy my time with Halo 3 (for the most part) and I consider my investment in the three map packs released thus far to be money well spent, but...
I want to play Midship again. I pity those of you who never played Halo 2 and never experienced this joy of a map. A perfectly balanced, close-quarters arena that demands the utmost in skill from its players, Midship is easily my favorite shooter map of all time. As a fan of MLG and as a former tournament player, I fondly remember spending hours upon hours just playing FFAs with friends on the map, and never tiring of it. Thankfully for myself and other fans, the map has been re-made by Bungie and is being released with ODST as "Heretic." Now, being a Halo fan, I already had plans to purchase ODST; therefore, I'm not too troubled that Heretic won't be released in a DLC pack like the other maps that Bungie has created for Halo 3 post-launch. I am upset, though, that I'm being charged full price for ODST, when I already own a significant portion of the content included with the game. For those who aren't aware, ODST comes in two disks. The first disk contains the new Campaign and Firefight, and the second disk contains the entire Halo 3 multiplayer experience, with all of the previously released DLC and 3 new maps (including the Midship remake).
That package sounds like a pretty good deal for $60, assuming the potential customer never touched Halo 3. Dedicated fans of the game, on the other hand, are forking over cash for content that they've already purchased. Part of Microsoft's explanation for the game's price-point in the wake of the E3 announcement was that the inclusion of the full multiplayer mode and all of the available DLC made ODST worth more than a typical expansion pack. In reality, they just know full well that people like myself (who were already planning on buying ODST and really want to get in on some Middy-action in Halo 3) would be willing to pay full price for the game even though it has duplicate content.
It is my sincere hope that these two examples remain as outliers, and that this type of "forced repayment" for old content in order to receive new content never catches on. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that we'll be seeing it more often in the future, especially since both ODST and TFU: USE will likely be very successful at retail. Anyone else worried that this will become commonplace in the future, or am I complaining/worrying needlessly?