Titanfall’s (proposed) DLC model should set the next-gen standard
The Tuesday of legend is fast approaching: May 11 will bring both Titanfall and Dark Souls 2, both with egregiously large red carpets of hype trailing behind them. Personal interest aside, however, the former is arguably more interesting, as we already have a solid incline as to what to expect from FromSoftware’s next release. Titanfall on the other hand has only become relatively fleshed out in recent weeks, what with its onslaught of betas, screenshots and announcements.
Topping the list of surprises is the fact that, in contrast to an early rumor hinting otherwise, the game will include a three-part DLC Season Pass for $24.99. Respawn Entertainment has since shed greater light on the Pass, and going by what we currently know of their stance (as we haven’t actually seen it in action), the studio deserves a round of applause.
Respawn co-founder Vince Zampella explained that the Season Pass will be included because “There are things that we want in the game that we didn’t get to ship in the final game.” He went on to confirm that the studio will not be shoving any microtransactions into the mix and will instead be siding with an “up front” purchase.
It is bittersweet news, though. What Respawn has stated isn’t particularly poignant or innovative. It is neither strange nor unorthodox; rather, it is necessary and painfully rare. Here, a developer has opted to make additional content available for their game because they wish to make use of ideas that couldn’t fit the deadline, to improve the base experience they will soon release. That’s it; nothing more. Microtransactions won’t be shoveled in with the intent of squeezing every last cent out of consumers, nor will half-assed DLC be thrown into the marketplace with the sole intent of making a quick buck.
Of course, this all hangs on whether Respawn can actually keep their word. But more important (and jarring) is that their proposed DLC model flies in the face of the rampant nickel-and-diming that add-on content is so frequently lowered to, or in the worst case, blatantly incomplete titles being "patched up" via DLC.
Downloadable content was made possible by the thriving digital marketplaces of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and began as a rare and exciting opportunity for developers. The fact that content could be made available post-release makes deadlines less limiting. If it’s not absolutely necessary to the core experience, just add it in later. Better still, in lieu of a full-blown sequel, other ideas—the Blood Dragons and Assault On Dragon Keeps of our time—can be adapted into proper gameplay after the fact.
But seeing as how interactive entertainment is in fact an industry, creative vision will always have to meet sales figures halfway. Development opportunities aside, DLC is also an excellent opportunity to raise the bottom line on a project through post-release purchases. Certainly, this is not inherently bad. If players are willing to pay for more of an experience, there’s no reason for a studio not to make that available. Things go sour when, as EA has so kindly (and repeatedly) demonstrated, innocent little add-ons become displays of consumer gouging so flagrant that the store page may as well double as a ‘Quit’ button.
The expanded online and multiplayer capabilities of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One can only bolster the digital market and, consequently, aid the delivery of downloadable content. It follows that there will be a continued stream of DLC for many (read: virtually all) games, especially for upcoming online-centric releases such as Destiny and Elder Scrolls Online. With all that DLC coming down the pipe, it’s nice to already see, or more accurately be told of, a plan that balances profits with players.