Is it fair to charge for the same content twice?

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?

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What Halo "Mythic" will be, and what I would like it to be.

What it will be:

A large batch of DLC (6 new maps) and 30 new achievements that add another 750 possible Gamerscore points. At this time, that much is almost undeniably true. There have been confirmations of the legitimacy of the achievments by two Bungie.net forum moderators who were in attendence at PAX, and the names of the achievements indirectly confirmed the legitimacy of a list of maps found by a modder on his 360 hard drive months ago.

Compare the top 6 achievements on the first list, and map name predictions at the bottom of the second list (noting, of course, that the second list was posted in early August, before the official name for Purple Reign was even revealed):

http://kotaku.com/5045137/rumor-new-batch-of-halo-3-achievements-coming
http://highimpacthalo.org/forum/showthread.php?t=46058

My guess is, Halo 3 "Mythic" will come in two forms -- a sizable download of just the 6 new maps and additional achievements for those of us who already possess the other content, as well as a stand-alone disc release with all of the DLC for those who either haven't purchased it yet or don't have XBox Live.

What I want it to be:

On top of the DLC and additional achievements, I want Halo 3 "Mythic" to include a complete and comprehensive "update" that fixes the myriad of minor issues that plague the game. These few small fixes can really add up to a substantial improvement in gameplay:

  • Allow players to spawn with all the first-person weapons, on every map (including the Carbine, Beam Rifle, etc.)
  • Include a small text notification on-screen when a Bomb is being armed, so that Halo 2-style Assualt is possible
  • Fix Flag Returning to allow for a true "Touch Return" just like in the previous two games
  • Add the option for Neutral Flag
  • Improve the default Overshield to make it as powerful as the Halo 1/2 version.
  • Decrease the time delay between switching weapons
  • Increase the splash damage of both the Rocket Launcher and Frag Grenades

I could go on, but those are the most important ones I think. If "Mythic" offered a patch that resolved even half of that list, I would be satisfied.
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Halo is a sham of its former self, but no one seems to realize.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure Sonic or Crash Bandicoot or Rayman have fallen farther from their previously immense stature, but none of those games are truly relevant to me personally, so I can't really make any argument for them and their respective declines. However, one series that is highly relevant to me is the Halo franchise. Having been around since the very beginning and being well-versed with the ins and outs of Halo: Combat Evolved, it is sickening and depressing to see the direction that Bungie has taken the series.

I'm not really griping about the Single-player -- each game's campaign had its fair share of high-points and low-points, and I enjoy different aspects of each. No, my complaint is with the multiplayer mode -- it has been stripped down and altered so radically from the near-perfect formula that Halo: CE introduced that I find myself growing more disappointed and frustrated with Halo 3 every time I fire up my 360. A vast, vast majority of players who play Halo 3 online have never experienced the masterpiece that was Halo: CE, and therefore have little concept of true weapon balance, tactful and creative player movement, or aiming with skill and precision.

The H1 Pistol was in every way superior to the current Halo 3 Assault Rifle in terms of being a balanced starting weapon, because it gave you a fighting chance no matter the scenario, and required the user have a fair amount of aiming talent to be effective. If you spawned in the direct line-of-sight of a player with a Sniper Rifle, he wasn't guaranteed an easy kill just because the weapon you held couldn't reach him. Granted, he had a profound advantage over you, but it was far from insurmountable from the spawning players' perspective, because of the range and effectiveness of the Pistol. While the Sniper had the superior weapon, he still had to eliminate the newly-spawned player quickly or he would be killed, while the player who spawned with the Pistol had a fighting chance against the Sniper, but he had to be accurate and fast if he wanted to down his enemy before getting shot. Such encounters demand skill from both players, and really left the end result up to who was the most talented at the game.

The Assault Rifle in Halo 3 doesn't bring balance to the game in nearly the same way, it just lowers the skill gap required to play. Not only does it serve to make close-range encounters more random and unpredictable, it makes good luck a much more influential factor -- if a Player A spawns closer to a Rocket Launcher or Sniper Rifle than Player B, then Player B better run away, because the weapon he's holding (the AR) won't get the job done. This stifles player options a great deal, and brings the natural flow of player movement about the map to a screeching halt.

For the sake of not rambling on for pages about the differences between the games, I'll just list some of the manifestations of the decreased skill gap:

  • Halo 1: Momentum based melee attacks that did varying amounts of damage (the force of your melee attack was determined by whether you were jumping, running, or standing still); Halo 3: One size fits-all melee damage, and a horrible "window of response" system that rewards players with slower reflexes and reactions.
  • Halo 1: Excellent weapon balance -- every gun had a practical and useful application and fit perfectly into the game's sandbox; Halo 3: A large amount of "cloned" weapons that behave nearly identically to another gun in the arsenal, and unnecessary weapons with little practical use that clutter up the sandbox.
  • Halo 1: Weapons and Power-ups that respawned on a set timer, ensuring a battle for control of said weapon or power-up at regular intervals; Halo 3: Respawn times dictated by when a player picks-up a power-up or weapon, meaning that the team who is lucky enough to spawn closer said weapon or power-up has a decided advantage for the rest of the match by knowing the precise respawn time.
  • Halo 1: The ability to carry up to four of both frag grenades and plasma grenades, with a radius of splash damage and an overall strength to make them a highly useful item; Halo 3: Grenades with laughable comparative strength, greatly reduced splash damage, can't be thrown nearly the same distance or with as much accuracy, and the ability to only carry a maximum of two frags and plasmas.
  • Halo 1: Superior map design that encouraged free-flowing player movement and existed only as a medium for players to display their true abilities at the game; Halo 3: Maps with geometry that stifles player movement and dictates play-styles, creates stalemates due to terrible design (shield doors as a perfect example of an exceptionally stupid idea), and elements of randomness that keep the better player from dominating as effectively as possible (ex: Unnecessary over-texturing of walls and floor surfaces that make banking grenades very random)

On the surface it may appear that the Halo franchise has bettered with age, what with the inclusion of a multitude of new customization options and the addition of online play via Xbox Live; but, gameplay-wise, Halo 3 has butchered and deformed "true Halo", and unceremoniously catered to the inexperienced players in nearly every aspect. To me, the multiplayer in Halo 3 is an absolute insult to the greatness of Halo: Combat Evolved.
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