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April 2015 Retro Gaming Article


April 25, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Remember when games were shipped complete and offered Expansion Packs for additional game play?

I saw a version of this graphic online and wanted to expand on it's brilliance. I'm not sure who the original creator is, but they have my admiration for a great analogy!

It doesn't seem that long ago that one could buy a game at Babbages or Electronic's Boutique and later return to buy an expansion pack to extend the game's longevity. These expansion packs were often separate from the original game, but relied on it's engine and other resourced to function. In an RPG, an expansion pack might offer access to another realm or world along with a new character and/or weapons.

Expansion Packs extended the experience of a properly released game.
This is a term that has yielded to the newer Downloadable Content (DLC) term. Not long ago, buying a game felt rewarding and complete. There was an expectation of quality that has eroded greatly. In the cartridge days, once a game was on an e-prom, that was the end. There were no updated, fixes, alterations, etc. It was complete and sitting on a retail shelf.

Contrast that with today's computers and game consoles that have hard drives and internet connections. Developers can almost reach out and change your game at will. Over the Net, they can send updates, fixes and all sorts of stuff - stuff that used to be expansion packs. Now called DLC, developers offer expansion to their games, But they aren't really adding value to a beloved title as much as tempting you to spend money - a lot of money. Possibly more than you spent on the original game itself.

DLC versus Expansion Packs Check out our Fast Food gaming analogy. Looks like games and burgers were better in the past Games today seem lighter, shorter, and offering fewer options. You want options? Buy 'em! It's all DLC these days. They call them micro transactions. They are small and frequent in the hope that you'll be more inclined to buy ten $3 items as opposed to one $30 item. Next thing you know you've spent twice the cost of the game and don't always feel as though you had the same robust experience one found 15 years ago.

DLC should expand a great experience, not bolster a mediocre one!
It's worse than that. The digital age allows developers to fix things. That sounds like a good thing, but it's drawback is the increased amount of fixing that now happens. Many games come to market with numerous problems. Over time the developer fixes these problems, but most of them should have been acknowledged and resolved prior to being on a retail shelf.

While it may be nice to breathe some life into a game by "selling" a new adventure or world as DLC that can be added. Think of it from the opposite perspective. Why wasn't that content included in the original game? Too often it feels as though developers hold back elements of a game in order to later sell them to you!

How many times have you seen the inclusion of a character in a game's advertising only to learn that you have to pay extra to obtain the character? There are a lot of shady things going on with DLC. That isn't to say that all DLC is motivated by greed, but too often I see it as a way to increase the revenue for a game that was not properly completed prior to it's release. If you spend $60 on a new game, you shouldn't feel like a beta-tester!

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