Please PURCHASE this tagline before reading it.
A recent game purchase, combined with a friendly conversation has sparked up a new dislike. The target of my ire is something I can only describe as a marketing strategy to push more dlc sales with games. I don’t really have a specific name for it, but it’s the inclusion of downloadable content, within the standard game experience.
I’m not talking about a message on the main menu, or access to DLC with the press of a button though, I’m talking about placing content (that doesn’t come free with the game) in a location where all players are almost guaranteed to encounter it while they’re trying to actually play the game. The game that sparked this rant was, for me, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14. Granted, the game includes an abundance of content to begin with, and while you’ll barely notice the sneaky dlc to begin with, once you start getting into the game, it really becomes an interference.
I first ran into it when I attempted to participate in a tournament my Country Club was holding. The game lets me select the tournament, as well as my golfer and asks me if I really want to participate, but only then brings up a pop-up, informing me that I don’t own the course in question and inviting me to the course shop to buy it. Fair enough, County Club tournaments are user-generated, so running into DLC there isn’t exactly the developer’s fault. After having to skip the Country Club tournament though, I went back to my career. A few tournament wins later, my created golfer managed to make it onto the PGA Tour (I know, exciting right), only for me to find out that the first event (and half a dozen or so events throughout the year) are held on DLC courses. You’re given the choice to skip the tournament, or change the course the tournament is held at to any other course, but not until after another little prompt encouraging you to head to the course shop to purchase the DLC in question.
This annoyed me enough for me to mention it in passing with a friend, who instantly recalled another run-in that he heard another friend had. This time it was with Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and after hearing this I remembered that the game DID have a similar system. Most Wanted allows you to drive any car you find parked in the free-roam world… The catch? Even if you don’t own any DLC, the game places the DLC cars within the world for you to find. You think you’ve found a new car to drive, but all of a sudden, you’re being asked to purchase extra content.
As I’ve thought about the subject, I’ve remembered some other games with similar things, such as Forza Horizon, which includes parts and upgrades from DLC packs in your garage, even if you don’t own them, forcing you to scroll through them, looking for whatever you DO need. The more I think about it though, the more it annoys me, because as far as I can see, including the content in-game before you’ve purchased it, serves absolutely no use to the player.
The only reason I can see for the inclusion is from a marketing standpoint. My friend pointed out that the person who was playing Most Wanted nearly ended up purchasing the extra content, because he got the game for free (with his purchase of SimCity) and didn’t really know anything about the game. He figured it must be mandatory to pay for each car that you actually want to use. Running into the DLC in the middle of your game also makes it all the more tempting to buy because it’s always in your face. Several times while playing Tiger Woods, I’ve considered buying courses just to make the whole process of playing the game less annoying.
Surely it can’t be so much effort for a developer to code in a test to see whether a player owns a piece of content and include or remove it from the actual menus / game world accordingly. I can’t honestly believe that with so many complaints already existing about content intentionally being left out of release to be used as DLC, developers would actually CHOOSE to incorporate the DLC so heavily into the core experience. So is there really any other reason to have the DLC in a place other than the typical DLC menu on the main menu, other than trying to sell more units?
To be fair, I know that last question is somewhat loaded. Developers are still a business and they will always rely on the profits that a game can turn, but I really don’t want to see this style of marketing work its way into the average game. I feel it’s invasive, it destroys any immersion a game creates and it can be confusing for the less involved gamers who haven’t really followed all the random content and extras that have been released for a game.