I have discussed the dilemmas of downloadable content frequently in the past, and each new piece of news gives us more to chew on. Soon we will be seeing the very first DLC for Tomb Raider: Underworld. You know, the content that was meant for the original game, but eventually wasn’t. We may never know if someone put a gun to Eric Lindstrom’s head in order to change his story, but we’re here to discuss value.
This joystiq newscontains a quote from Crystal Dynamics claiming each piece of DLC will take between three to six hours to complete. Scroll down further and you will see that a few commenters simply won’t fork over the 800 MS points for it. Since then, joystiq’s more recent review of the level clocks in at around an hour and a half.
We have a few observations here. First, is an hour and a half of entertainment worth ten bucks? I would say it depends greatly on the quality. Many of us have probably walked out of a movie theater after paying that much for a bad flick. On the other hand, I paid that much for Flower, which gave exactly that much play time, and don’t regret it one bit. When you’re dealing with under two hours of fun for this price, the quality is paramount, period.
Second, the original joystiq comments were made by users assuming that the length was at the claimed three hours or more (well, one was not, I guess he’s clever). They still don’t seem to be happy with this deal. As much as it disappoints me to hear that Crystal Dynamics may have made something at half their estimate, it is just as bad to see how hesitant gamers are becoming. Here are a few options for entertainment I have at my disposal:
Movie – ten bucks, with an hour and a half to three hours of entertainment.
Casual meal at a pub – ten bucks, assuming you don’t buy a drink. About an hour and a half, +/- 30 minutes depending on service.
Drinks at the bar – ten bucks, hour to three hours of entertainment, depending on where I go.
Movie/Game rental, brick and mortar store – 5/9 bucks, variable amount of hours.
At its worst time estimate, the aforementioned DLC isn’t grossly out of bounds relative to other options. While I would consider $10/3 hours a sweet spot, this still isn’t enough for many gamers. I wonder what exactly would make them happy. Four hours? Five? Six? At that point you have a $60 title.
For now, the lesson is clear. The industry is still trying to screw us over, and even when (or if) they are not, their customers expect the kind of value that can only be found in a paperback (and these kids don’t even read!).
Who is in the wrong here, if anyone? And what has to give?