Bethesda VP Defends Day-One DLC

Earnest Cavalli

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Bethesda VP Defends Day-One DLC



Launch day downloadable content additions are unfairly maligned by fans who don't understand game development, claims Pete Hines.

In a recent interview with OXM, Bethesda vice president Pete Hines layed out a defense of the increasingly common practice of preparing downloadable content prior to a game's release, then launching it alongside a title's retail debut. While consumers loudly argue that this content should have been included on the game's disc to begin with, and that developers/publishers are effectively crippling their games in order to make extra cash from DLC, Hines claims that isn't the case, and that those who believe this idea simply don't understand how game development works.

"I don't think [gamers] quite understand the development process and the point at which you have to stop making the game and you have to finish the game," Hines states. "So, the content people stop making new content a fair amount of time before it ships; it's not like in the old days when it was like the day before or a week before."

This, Hines believes, is where animosity toward games creators comes in. Many in the gaming community think that this additional content could simply be added to the extant game without realizing that the initial chunk of content has already been shipped off to be pressed onto discs and prepared for retail while the developer bides its time by crafting DLC. It's an unfortunate reality, but Hines is a realist about this practice and its consequences and in the end he thinks developers and publishers should just "do what they think works best for them, and the customers have the decision to buy or not to buy as they see fit."

That last bit is perhaps the most important part here. While remembering that Hines works for a company that at one time released a $3 DLC pack consisting entirely of armor for horses that had no effect on gameplay beyond making your equine pal more pleasing to the eye (see above), his idea that customers should forego loudly complaining in favor of voting with their wallets is undeniably reasonable. If you hate day-one DLC that's your choice, but filling random internet forums with grammatically bankrupt complaints won't do a thing to change the practice. The only way to truly make your voice heard is by not buying the stuff. Obviously a sizable segment of the population likes the idea of launch-day content additions, otherwise publishers would have stopped releasing them years ago.

Remember: The people who make videogames have no idea who you are and largely don't care how you feel. They're in business to make money, not to make you smile, and every decision these companies make is aimed toward pulling in as much cash as possible, regardless of how a noisy online minority might feel about it.

Source: OXM [http://www.oxm.co.uk/52081/bethesda-day-one-dlc-complaints-stem-from-lack-of-knowledge-about-how-games-are-made/]

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synobal

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Poor Bethesda, they will be haunted by horse armor for years and years to come.
 

Andy Shandy

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Jun 7, 2010
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Eh, my problem isn't so much with Day One DLC (due to the aforementioned reason of they have something to do while waiting), but with any "DLC" that is locked away on the disc, so they could've easily have let the gamer have it, but have decided to charge them even more for it - most of the time anyway.
 

RJ 17

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Nov 27, 2011
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Soooooooo basically the same tired argument of "It's all about the developement process!" that every other studio that defends Day-1 DLC has made, hmmm?

Other than Bethesda throwing it's lot in with that argument, I don't really see anything newsy about this news. :p
 

MrBrightside919

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Yeah! Day One DLC is TOTALLY JUSTIFIED! I mean, we all remember how GREAT the horse armor was...

...BWA HA HA HA HA...i'm sorry, I couldn't finish that with a straight face...

Wait...were you serious, Bethesda?

 

loa

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Earnest Cavalli said:
Remember: The people who make videogames have no idea who you are and largely don't care how you feel. They're in business to make money, not to make you smile, and every decision these companies make is aimed toward pulling in as much cash as possible, regardless of how a noisy online minority might feel about it.
That's pretty funny considering how we're talking about the entertainment industry here.
But sure, keep telling yourself that. We'll see where that leads in the not-so-distant future.
 

Absolutionis

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Coming from the company that pretty much pioneered the shitty DLC in general in the form of strictly-better Horse Armor, it's hard to take this guy seriously. Point is, they spent development time on a game before it has been released and before it is even seen as a success. It's just as abominable as those "season passes" that companies are releasing nowadays.

At least they've eased back on the concept of DLCs in favor of expansions, but they now sell their PC games for +$10 which is pretty much just as bad. It's like not being able to play the game at all unless you purchase the day-one $10 DLC.

"DLC" is a bad word soured by the likes of EA, Bethesda, and Capcom. They should just go the route of doublespeak and name it something else. "Small expansion" sounds nice. I guess "season pass" is popular nowadays, but it's just as scummy.
 

Genocidicles

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What about DLC that's obviously content that's been stripped from the main game purely to be sold as DLC? Like From Ashes?

Also voting with your wallet never works, whereas screaming like children does.

Screaming got the ending of Mass Effect 3 changed (even if it is still shit), which is more than 'voting with your wallet' ever did.
 

wetfart

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So in other words, his answer is "Deal with it". Hmm ... I think I heard that somewhere before....
 

PunkRex

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If I think its worth it i'll buy it but it would be nice if a game I liked added these extras, like they used to... it would be NICE!

But companies exsist to make money.

Maybe, but I can still call them ass holes for it.
 

Mr. Omega

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Jul 1, 2010
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As far as the whole development cycle, I do agree with part of the rage being a general misunderstanding of shipping and timing. That being said, the question then becomes "well, why should we pay for it? Why are we paying more for stuff on a game that just came out?"

Plus, I don't mind if there's content added to the game after the game ships but before it his shelves, as long as the game that ships is done. And THAT is where the problem is coming from...
 

Earnest Cavalli

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Yeah, because nobody was ever able to ship a complete game before. Nope! There has ALWAYS been DLC.

Oh wait, this is Bethesda: the one developer who actually has never been able to ship a complete game :p
 

NEDM

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Good ole' scumbag pete. Luckily for him if you ask ps3 fans, they won't complain about "day 1 dlc" as much as they worry about the "3 years after xbox gets it dlc" program that bethesda likes to run. Heck, ps3 fans would love day 1 dlc, or week 1, or month 1..... etc.
 

mechalynx

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Earnest Cavalli said:
Remember: The people who make videogames have no idea who you are and largely don't care how you feel. They're in business to make money, not to make you smile, and every decision these companies make is aimed toward pulling in as much cash as possible, regardless of how a noisy online minority might feel about it.
Somewhat wrong. These companies are in business of making money by entertaining people. If they fail at the entertainment part, they don't get paid.

I also call bulshit on the whole development process excuse. There was once a time when a dev team put all the content they could afford into the game before it went gold then spent the time between the shipping and the relsease on vacation or planning their next project. And if some poor sod got a great idea too late into production it was either crapped or saved for something called expansions.

And no, you can't claim this content wasn't removed from the vanilla version when every time a game comes with day one DLC, you always find placeholders for the DLC assests inside the vanilla code. Example: Mass Effect 3 and Javik.

Day 1 DLC is always part of the initial production cost, so either set the original price tag to reflect that or let it be a kind of insentive to buy the game new, like BioWare did with the Cerberus pass and the free DLC that came with it.
 

SecondPrize

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I guess I don't understand how game development works. For instance, I was sure there was a period during development when "testers" went through the game looking for "bugs" and then having them fixed. Then I played some Bethesda games and realized that I must have been mistaken, as such a part of the development cycle obviously does not exist.

OT I never buy DLC, but a company's handling of it may determine whether (or when) I buy the game or not. If you actually have a prothean in ME 3, but he's locked away on day one DLC, then I'm not buying that game. If you consistently release dlc packs and then come out with a complete edition a year later, Oblivion, then that's the version of the game I'll buy.

I was probably spoiled in that my first encounters with DLC were all free. Stuff like Halo2 Map Packs seemed like a win-win for everyone involved in that players got fresh new maps and Bungie certainly saw more purchases of the game because people were still enjoying, discussing and bringing friends into it long after it may have gone stale.

The other early DLC I encountered was actual expansions that added a crapload to the game. Stuff like spec-ops for BF2 was freaking great and I happily paid for it and spent a lot of time on it. Nowadays you look at the DLC for BF3 and it just isn't the same, and I just can't bring myself to purchase it.
 

Ukomba

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DVS BSTrD said:
Yeah, because nobody was ever able to ship a complete game before. Nope! There has ALWAYS been DLC.

Oh wait, this is Bethesda: the one developer who actually has never been able to ship a complete game :p
The game without DLC is a complete game. If you never knew the DLC existed it would be like games before dlc.

Andy Shandy said:
Eh, my problem isn't so much with Day One DLC (due to the aforementioned reason of they have something to do while waiting), but with any "DLC" that is locked away on the disc, so they could've easily have let the gamer have it, but have decided to charge them even more for it - most of the time anyway.
In fact on disc stuff isn't new. Unfinished programming exists on old cartage games. Resourceful players have found some interesting unfinished stuff on Ocarina of Time for example. KOTOR 2 also had a bunch of unfinished stuff on it that players were later able to patch back into the game.

What they would do now is, instead of cutting off mid development to meet the release date, they would have allowed the developers to continue working on that content to be used as dlc. That additional development would then be paid for by the price of the dlc. I have no problem with that as long as the game without any DLC is a whole and compelling experience.
 

Karadalis

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Earnest Cavalli said:
Remember: The people who make videogames have no idea who you are and largely don't care how you feel. They're in business to make money, not to make you smile, and every decision these companies make is aimed toward pulling in as much cash as possible, regardless of how a noisy online minority might feel about it.
What kind of piss poor justification is that?

Did I miss something or is pleasing your costumer not part of the whole "making money" formula anymore?

Heres a little hint: If you are unable to make your costumer happy with your product youre doing it wrong and risk loosing said costumer. You might rip them off once successfully, but with the enroumus amounts of alternatives in the electronic entertainment industry you should really ask if that is worth it. And if i look at the industry as a whole.. companies who took a crap on their loyal costumers are now suffering... badly. EA? Sony? Square? Ring a bell?

And noisy online minority? Tell that to the guys who raised a stink about.. oh i dont know.. ME3s ending? Lara croft getting "raped" being needed for her character development? Hitmans "nun" trailer? The dongle woman getting her ass fired?

It might be a minority at first but even a little stone can launch an avalanche. And if enough people point something out.. enough people will read it.

Or how do we explain the popularity of shows like the jimquisition, the angry joe show etc. etc.?

"Companies are there to make money" no rly?... but they should not forget that only costumers that are pleased with a product will actually keep buying your product.. if they are not pleased.. well good luck finding another job.
 

Therumancer

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You know, for the most part I'm an even tempered person. Something that let me work as Casino security far longer than a lot of people do, handle rowdy drunks, noisy people in hotel rooms, people screaming violence over feeling they were cheated at gaming tables, domestic squabbles, fans trying to get into entertainer dressing rooms, and other things as well as remove people from nightclubs and the like... all without getting into fights or start incidents, the job of security being to keep things quiet.....

...... HOWEVER, in reading some of this stuff from the industry it occasionally makes me want to start slamming faces into walls... hard. Namely because of how dismissive the general tone seems to be, and how people in the industry seem to be convinced that we are all a group of morons. Not to mention the attitude of airy dismissal that "oh, well it's just an unusually loud online minority complaining".

Now I get, that the gaming industry is out to make money. However there is a point at which seeking a profit goes too far, and people should be content. This coming from someone who is actually a defender of the general idea of capitalism, I mostly have an issue with people who take it too far and basically set out to ruin it for everyone else (which is a whole differant discussion). At the end of the day there is no excuse for paid Day #1 DLC, I suppose it could be argued that they don't want to waste the time of all those content producers while a game's production is wrapping up, but there is no reason other than greed to sell this content on the very day that it comes out as opposed to providing the content for (gasp) free. What's more the galling part about this thing, and what makes it anger-inspiring, is that the issue largely revolves around DLC that is planned out long before the game's release, with crucial plot elements or story extensions being sold seperatly from the game. An example of this would be say the Prothean squad made from "Mass Effect 3". Today you see companies deciding how much they can cut out of a game and sell seperatly, rather than really creating true "extras" for the game. You see it to the point of companies making plans ahead of time to get people to pre-order DLC. Not to mention cases that show the lies Bethesda is telling for what they are (since they are addressing a general issue, rather than simply what they have done) when you find that "extra" DLC is actually on your disc, and your just paying extra money to unlock content that the developers locked out. That pretty much nukes the defense that "well, we couldn't have this extra stuff added onto the game if the discs are already out being pressed". Not to mention that games haven't really been on discs for quite a while, especially for the PC, today your "game disc" just links you to a download service and pumps the information onto your hard drive, you even see this with consoles where increasingly you need huge amounts of hard drive space to hold these games. Given that it's all digital there is no reason, other than greed, why that content can't be added since your obtaining the whole game digitally anyway.... in short the problem has no real excuse other than "we want to gouge you for more money", and it makes me increasingly angry to see developers try and talk around this and make it seem justified for other reasons.

At the end of the day though, it is a valid point that the practice continues because people buy it. Honestly I don't think anyone is stupid enough to really believe that anyone supports or likes these kind of scams, they endure them to get the complete package for their game. All the companies care about is the money, and since people pay it, no matter how begrudingly, they keep it going. I mostly get irritated when I hear the gaming industry try and claim people like or support this idea though by the way of justification. In general anyone who likes being gouged/exploited/nickel and dimed probably has some serious psychological problems involving their own self-worth.

Such are my thoughts.

At any rate I will now go and indulge fantasies of events like in an old black and white movie, with the game developers sitting around at the GDC, PAX, or E3, sipping cocktails and smoking cigars made from $100 bills, while snorting snuff made from the finest powdered baby imported from asia and sneezing the resulting nose-clearance down the throats of lobotomized slave children imported from the third world... laughing about the stupidity of the masses, and how only a tiny, vocal minority, even understands how bad they are screwing us all.... right before a huge mob of gamers breaks in carrying torches and pichforks comes and and seizes them... dragging them outside to face a list of charges before execution in a guillitine to the cheering mob of gamers. The Better Buisness Bureau and Consumerist run stories about gaming has been liberated, as a few artistic types use the severed heads to create wax moulds, so effigies can be created for museusms to display so none will forget the evils of developers like Bethesda and their Horse Armor, or the antics of publishers like Bobby Kotick, who shall be displayed alongside the likes of Marie Antoinette, queen of callousness and Jack The Ripper, Vorlon Inquisitor.

Well, either that or someone actually just regulating the industry as much as a I hate goverment meddling in business to put an end to some of these practices. More sane, but less fun.

The central point being, that the dismissive attitude, and the sheer callousness with which we're lied to makes me angry. Dismissing the people upset with these practices as a "vocal online minority" reminds me of a French aristocrat dismissing socialist rebels as a "tiny rabble, barely worth the notice" right before the end, while leading some of the most detached, deranged, and decadent lifestyles in history. Hence the referance (for the handfull of people who might not get what I was joking about).
 

Atmos Duality

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Two points of contention:

i) Not all "Day 1 DLC" is content produced during manufacture and distribution; I can name several examples of Day-1 DLC being locked on the disc (including your own Oblivion, Mr Hines)

ii) While I respect a publisher/developer's right to charge what they want for the content they produce, as a consumer, I am not pleased with games being further and further dissected into money grabs (and then being called "entitled" just for pointing this fact out).

Apart from that, I do not have any overt complaints; not even online-passes (mostly because I don't bother with online gaming, and playing primarily on PC, the used game market has been dead for many years already).
 
Sep 24, 2008
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Well, that's a good point that he's making...

If we didn't have a robust online gaming market. If that's the case, why couldn't they just ship it as free DLC? I mean, if he's saying that these things are being developed while the team is still technically being paid for processing, coding, and then shipping out the finished product, well.. it seems to fall into the scope of what the team was initially paid to do. They aren't reconvening after a few months to start it all again. They are still under the scope of the contract they agreed to when signing on (if I'm wrong, please show me and I'll wipe this idea right out of my mind). So if you have a way to ship it out and it hasn't gone over your budget, why does it cost extra money?

To me, it's like me going to a pizzeria and asking for a couple of slices and a fountain soda. The guy says it'll be 4.50. I pay him. The dude puts the slices into oven and takes them out when done. He goes in the back and comes back out with a bucket of ice and straws. He pours the ice in the cup, hands me over the straw and gives me the slices. He goes 'That'll be 50 cents more'. I ask what for, and he tells me that since the ice and straw were not available at the competition of the slices, the extra work merits extra money.