Xbox Live Director Major Nelson reveals that he’s not a fan of the way most games handle DLC maps, saying that they work to divide players, fracturing the community.
Despite the revenue that DLC packs and maps bring in for game companies, it would seem that not everyone in the gaming industry is a fan. Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb, Director of Programming for Xbox Live, is apparently among them, voicing his concerns during a recent interview.
In a talk on IGN’s Unlocked podcast, Major Nelson discussed Halo 5 and the DLC it’s deployed. He points out in the podcast that he’s pleased by 343 Industries’ decision to release all of Halo 5‘s DLC maps for free, with more maps planned through the Summer. Rather than charging players for Halo 5‘s DLC maps, 343 Industries instead decided to earn money via microtransactions by giving players the option to purchase REQ packs. However, not all game developers follow this idea, and he especially isn’t fond of pay-to-play DLC maps:
“[DLC passes are] really dangerous when it comes to multiplayer, because what happens is it fractures the community. You have the maps, I don’t have the maps, I didn’t buy that map but you bought that map,’ so when we all get together, ‘Oh, you couldn’t play the map.”
343 Industries head Josh Holmes previously stated similar feelings, noting that making gamers pay for maps only serves to divide gamers into haves and have-nots. Unfortunately, gamers often end up feeling that way in a large number of games, ranging from expansion map data being accessible but useless without purchasing DLC in Destiny to DLC maps in Call of Duty: Black Ops III.
As Major Nelson points out, if one gamer has the DLC but another player doesn’t, they’re excluded from play, unless they’re willing to cough up the cash. Considering the initial cost of most video games, this is yet another thorn in the side of most gamers that leads many to begrudge microtransactions altogether, especially when the DLC gives players unfair advantages.
While extra maps and campaigns can be a lot of fun for gamers to explore and play on, it can lead to the feeling that a player paid full price for an incomplete game. Insult has been added to injury in the past, when gamers have been charged for to unlock DLC that was already included in a game base files, like Jill in Marvel vs Capcom 3, Mass Effect 3′s From Ashes day one DLC campaign, or sealing a dozen Street Fighter X Tekken on-disc playable fighters behind a paywall.
It’s understandable that the people responsible for creating games need to make money, but making gamers feel as though they paid full price for a partial game in the process isn’t the right way to do it. Considering that 343 Industries recently earned $1.5 million from microtransactions selling REQ packs, it seems that they have a middle ground that can earn them a profit while keeping gamers happy. Here’s hoping that more game developers and publishers look at 343 Industries’ success and follow suit.