Friday, November 6, 2009

Fool Me Twice

by Daniel Bullard-Bates

I've been suckered into buying copious amounts of downloadable content for long enough. I purchased Fallout 3 when it first came out (the ridiculously expensive edition that comes with a broken clock), and dutifully bought each additional adventure as it was released. I'd already completed the main storyline, so I waited until all the packs were out to actually play through them. I don't have any problem with the content itself: I think the various additional adventures were well done, and particularly enjoyed the variety they presented in play style, atmosphere and setting. That being said, I felt a bit of a fool when they announced the "Game of the Year" edition of Fallout 3, with all the additional content at the same price point as the original game. I got a lot of enjoyment out of my time with the game, but waiting clearly would have served me better.

I didn't buy LittleBigPlanet when it first came out because I didn't have a Playstation 3. Now I do, and I was lucky enough to get onboard with the "Game of the Year" edition of that game, which comes with a pile of downloadable content already on the game disc. This feels like a small personal success. It's clear that this is becoming the new model for video games with extensive downloadable content plans. Release the game, release the add-ons over a few months, then re-release the game with all the add-ons.

So here comes Dragon Age: Origins, a game that seems specifically designed to empty my wallet. A spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate 2, you say? A dark, epic fantasy inspired by Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire? Be still my heart. The only reason I don't own the super fancy mega edition is because I barely resisted purchasing a brand new computer this month to play the thing. I know I want to play it, my soul cries out for me to play it, but I also know that it will be best on the PC. That's how I experienced the Baldur's Gate games, and that's how I want to experience Dragon Age. Even so, it's hard to resist its siren song.

But there's something soothing my hungry soul. The game has only just released, and there's already paid downloadable content out for it, with a plan for a lot more. To me, this says that one day in the not too distant future, there will be some sort of complete edition, perhaps another "Game of the Year" if it wins any such awards, and by then a computer to run it will be considerably less expensive. I may miss out on the experience for now, but I'll comfort myself with the fact that I wasn't suckered into a long, drawn-out scheme to part me from my money. And when I finally play the game, all those additional quests and dungeons will already be there, rife with possibilities, treasure, and intricate plotlines. There might even be a few dragons left.


  1. As I was playing Dragon Age, I came upon a man who had a quest for me. I went through the tedious description of his lifelong quest to restore honor for his family, etc. etc., only to find out the the quest had to be purchased online for the small price of 7 dollars.

    Call me crazy, but when did they start releasing games that started from the get go "uncomplete". I understood them making content after the masses had completed the original storyline, but it seems like a greedy, get-rich-quick scheme that is completely turning me off from the game.

    I may be in the minority, but I really don't like paying that much for a 2 hour "adventure".
    Line your wallets with garlic--the money vampires are out.

  2. I've heard about this! How incredibly tacky. This reminds me of the sort of thing that companies do to get people to buy the full game when you're playing the trial version. When playing a game that you have already bought, where a sense of immersion is a key feature, you should not be subjected to such blatant salesmanship.

  3. I thought it was lame too, but in Bioware's defense: the game already takes a minimum of 60 hours to beat. You can easily log 100 hours on it if you're vigilant. Calling it an incomplete package is a stretch, although I agree that downloadable content is a kind of "Blight" stretching across the video game realms if you will.

  4. I definitely don't think it looks like an incomplete or unsatisfying game as it is, and I would absolutely be playing it at this very moment if I had a computer that could run it. I'm just glad to know that I'll likely be able to pick it up with all the downloadable stuff one day in the future. If the downloadable content is something that interests you, and you have a little patience, it just definitely seems like a wise move to wait a while until you can get all the same stuff together in one place for much less money.

    The idea of in-game characters trying to sell you downloadable content, though...

    That's screwed up.


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