Epic Games Cautiously Defends Pre-Planned DLC

Gears of War 3 Weapon Skin DLC Prices

One of the few games to earn a 5/5 star rating on Game Rant this year is that of Gears of War 3, the latest release from Epic Games which rounded out the trilogy. While we love the game for its trilogy-concluding story arc, co-op modes and multiplayer, we cannot say the same about the DLC plans they and Microsoft Game Studios have put together.

A $30 DLC season pass for content that wasn't clearly revealed up front, combined with $45 worth of... in-game weapon textures had a lot of fans of Gears of War 3 understandably upset, but the two faces behind Epic, Cliff Bleszinski and Rod Fergusson, explain why pre-planning DLC is necessary.

Fergusson and Bleszinski were interviewed by Game Informer where Fergusson shared his thoughts on the matter:

"What people need to understand is that extra content is something that you have to plan... There are people who think that the first day of DLC development is the day after you launched. That's not the way it works. A lot of it is that you have to prepare and plan and manage your resources and your people and everything to allow for that."

No one can question the logic behind this. The game needs to be designed up front to support DLC and development time does need to be spent accordingly. This however, isn't hitting 3 key points that people are complaining about and the definition of "extra" seems to be at odds with what is "new."

  1. Pre-planned DLC that's included on the disc amounts to an incentive for publishers/devs not to include everything the game offers in the retail version of the game. Semantics aside, stuff's left out to charge for it separately and this happened already with Gears 3. This is the biggest hump fans have difficulty hopping over in accepting DLC, especially with the high prices they're charging.
  2. Where's the talk of charging for weapon skins? Weapon skins! How much money and hours of development time does it cost to add a texture to a gun? In Call of Duty: Black Ops, players can unlock a load of textures for any of the weapons (and players didn't have to pay for each)... Yes, weapon skin textures are purely cosmetic, but labeling it "optional" when it's on the disc and so miniscule is a tough pill to swallow. Did we mention that they're weapon skins and that the discounted price of all of them in bulk is $45? That's right, Epic and Microsoft are charging more for all 21 weapon skins than the price of buying Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. It's optional though.
  3. Not being honest up front. The first DLC for Gears of War 3 is already out, titled the 'Horde Command Pack' and we gave it a weak review. Why? One of the reasons was because not only are all of lot of its content and Horde Mode upgrades on the disc, but a lot of it is used in the game's campaign. It's not "extra" and that's an example of #1 where stuff was taken out to charge for it separately. The bigger issue is that when Epic revealed the pricing of the DLC season pass, but not its content, they neglected to mention that the maps this first DLC pack will be coming for free to everyone anyway for regular multiplayer, meaning players paid for free maps to use in just the co-op modes... but not the other? They're the same maps. Free DLC is great and there should be more of that but why wasn't this told to the players beforehand?

DLC is a tricky issue. On one hand it serves as a platform for expansions of games and as Cliffy B and Rod point out, a great way to fight against used game sales from a developer stand point, but in reality, it's caused a ton of problems and it's given rise to day one DLC and a ton of content charged for separately that in the previous console generation would be included in the retail game.

If you bought the Gears of War 3 season's pass and the All skins bundle - we're talking the discounted prices of each - then you paid $75 on top of a $60 game. That's the biggest issue of all and this isn't the only game doing it.

In other related news, the second Gears 3 title update is now available which adds spectator mode and tweaks a few things - don't worry, it doesn't cost anything.


Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Game Informer

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