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Add-Ons - new generation gamer's RIP-OFF

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Who wouldn't want to play more of one's favourite game which has a good replay value? Most games don't have this quality but a few ones does like many dynamic open world single player games and most massive online multiplayer games. I remember when game companies used to release expansions that were - at least most often - worth something.

(Expansions used to be more valuable like this one)

There's nothing wrong about add-on or expansion to a game when it actually costs reasonable amount of money. Lets assume full version game cost 50$ - then expansion with real content in my opinion could cost something like half of the original game around 20-25$. Expansion like this should be between half to full lenght of the original game's gameplay hours to finish. But things go wrong when games are actually only made halfway ready at the first place to original release - only focusing to make graphics engine and cool effects all the way - and then rushing the game to the market with incomplete game content releasing it with full price of 50$.

With game engine ready but lacking game content game company then releases numerous add-ons which all costs insane amounts. Small add-ons are sold seperately and this has became a new trend in gaming. In my opinion this stinks. Many games are not fully completed to their final release and anything extra released afterwards are these days often released in multiple small add-on packs that at worst cost almost net worth of original game an expansion - making the gamer to pay 3-4x price total of the original games worth in worst case to get the full game together with several expansions or add-ons count together. This plagues the large scale multiplayer games most badly but is also case with several single player type of games.

Like I said there would be nothing wrong with expansions if the original game was developed long-span all the way at first place. I for one don't are about the trend that small add-ons are released seperately with high price tag each. Why not just give gamer a real value and release one big expansion with all extra material within same covers? Give the player valuable expansions with content at right price instead multiple shattered small pieces of content which all cost insane amounts and are ripping players off.

(even Bethesda released pointless add-on called the notorious "horse armor" for Oblivion costing 200MS points to download for Xbox)

I can't remember cases in 90's (although I don't say there wasn't) where game releases had multiple expansions. Trend back then was mostly that if there was expansion at all - then there would be one large one with value. I wonder when did fully loaded "expansion" actually change to "add-on"? Because almost everything nowadays are not full expansions anymore but just small downloadable add-on packs, usually not released as full boxed game but DLC (download content) only.

First person shooters with online fan base are bad example of this. Call Of Duty series for example - without arguing - are one of the better online fps shooters no doubt about that. But since they seem to release a new game every year I think it's bit too pacey. Why not actually polish the game let's say a two to three years with something new included and make the actual gameplay content at once? But pacey releasing of sequels is not enough, there's multiple map pack add-ons per sequel downloadable with insane costs. What was it 15$ per add-on usually? I think here in Finland at worst it cost 5 euros per map. With three or four add-ons released per game within a year, one could sense a rip-off. After a year usually a full game sequel comes out already. That's just too much. I would be ready to pay that 15$ for a map pack add-on for my favourite shooter in case it was one big add-on containing all extra maps that will be released for a game with one year life span before new sequel coming out. But I will not be paying 15$ for only a few maps several times. Call Of Duty sure aren't only series where this is the case, it's just an good example wheres Call of Duty: Black Ops has bursted out four map pack add-ons within one year and sequel is coming out before christmas!

(Call of Duty: Black Ops - First Strike is just one of the four Black Ops DLC map pack add-ons released within a year)

I think it would be game studios time to polish their games to the point where the actual release had gameplay content worthy of full-release without needing to have any expansion packs. However if they wanted to release one then do so with worthy content! Whether the price was 20-30$ should the expansion pack add game content worth of at least half of the original game's lenght if not more. Not just make it a business idea to release halfway ready game out to the market and then complete the content with several pricy expansions.

If we think about some good expansions released to the games there have been many. A good examples would be Elder Scrolls Series Expansions like Morrowind: Bloodmoon & Tribunal and Oblivion's Shivering Isles. These were valuable with hours of quality gameplay content added. How about Diablo II: Lords of Destruction, Warcraft III: Frozen Throne or Baldur's Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal? Those were ones that I would actually want to pay for - without thinking that either original game fell short on the content nor the expansion was not worth the cost.

(Diablo II: Lords of Destruction was one of the better expansions money's worth)

In best games expansion packs are not even felt necassary, but everyones still waiting the sequel anxiously. Games like Fallout 1 and 2 for example never had expansions yet managed fully to please the player with replay value and huge amount of game play hours in original release.

(Some games just had so much money's worth and replay value they didn't need expansions/add-ons)

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