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Default Are the days of the major 20-30 hr. expansion gone?

December 22nd, 2012, 10:21
Yeah, there are examples of good DLC and examples of bad expansions, but unfortunately that doesn't mean squat when it comes to the norm.

Awakening for Dragon Age was pretty much an expansion for all intents and purposes, and much of the content already existed - which is why it came out so soon after. I'm pretty sure they even called it an expansion themselves.

Can you name a Bioware product since then with similar content? No, you can't. What you CAN do is name a bunch of poorly integrated junk that's nothing like an expansion - whether combined or not. THAT is what DLC is doing. Oh, I know there was this one decent extra story bit for Mass Effect 2 with Liara - but I'd take an expansion over dozens of such separate pieces.

Bringing it up only serves to support the anti-DLC argument, because it's an EXTREME rarity that we get to see actual expansions in the form of DLC.

Borderlands DLC is a good example of value for money, and I have no problem with that. The game is well-suited for creating chunks of content - and it's a very easy design to integrate new stuff for. It's like an MMO in that way, which is why developers have an easy time developing DLC that's worth the money. You basically travel to separate areas throughout the game, and story is secondary - so you don't care too much about overall integration.

Battlefield map packs worth 15$? That's what you call good value? Ok.

THQ? The people behind Saints Row 3 and the endless completely crappy DLC with costumes and a few weapons? That's exactly the kind of crappy DLC content I'm talking about. Very bad example.

Also, Paradox games are the very definition of milking products. They have absolutely no shame when they release broken and unfinished games over and over and over. Crusader Kings 2 is a rare example after they've cleaned up their QA process by hiring people with competence to do it. But the vast majority of their games and their DLC have been complete cash-grabs. Then again, people don't seem to mind - so there it is. They fooled me several times with their Hearts of Iron games - but I've stopped supporting them after the third game in the series was just as broken and unplayable as the rest upon release. A travesty.

I'm not missing out on anything - as I buy DLC when I think it's worth the money. Why would I be missing out?

I'm not "anti-DLC" - I'm anti-DLC as it's being handled in most cases.

I couldn't care less what you call content - I just respond to what you get for your money, and DLC is typically a bad deal in my opinion.

Obviously, if you think DLC has had no detrimental effect on expansions and the industry overall - you shouldn't worry about it.
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December 22nd, 2012, 11:00
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Battlefield map packs worth 15$? That's what you call good value? Ok.
Not particularly. I said they were a little costly in terms of MSRP. But who buys PC games at MSRP? $8 each if you buy the regular sales and far less if you shop around a little. It's sheer numbers there in terms of how much it provides and if you like the game, it's completely worth it. I do, so I think it is. The game had 9 maps in MP at launch. Each expansion added 4 and a bunch of other stuff. Guns and outfits and whatnot. That's about 45% of the shipped games content per expansion. 9 maps at launch was enough for about 80 hours of gaming for me. I've got another ~60 out of the expansion packs (general game fatigue does kick in, still) and I don't particularly feel I was ripped off. I mean, I'd love everyone to make their games like TF2. Nonstop free expansions and fun and a hat store. But hilarious hats wouldn't work in BF3, I guess.

Originally Posted by Dartagnan
THQ? The people behind Saints Row 3 and the endless completely crappy DLC with costumes and a few weapons? That's exactly the kind of crappy DLC content I'm talking about. Very bad example.
Yes and no! They put out 3 content packs and a ton of BS. The content packs are just fine for what they are. They were short-ish but like THQ games retain any value… I paid next to nothing for those packs and they gave me a few more hours of fun in total and that's that! The cosmetic stuff, yeah, that's totally BS. It's clearly marked that it's BS, though. So….

Originally Posted by Dartagnan
Also, Paradox games are the very definition of milking products. They have absolutely no shame when they release broken and unfinished games over and over and over. Crusader Kings 2 is a rare example after they've cleaned up their QA process by hiring people with competence to do it. But the vast majority of their games and their DLC have been complete cash-grabs. Then again, people don't seem to mind - so there it is. They fooled me several times with their Hearts of Iron games - but I've stopped supporting them after the third game in the series was just as broken and unplayable as the rest upon release. A travesty.
I guess I have less experience with them than you. I started at CK2 and it's been a party. I even got into Victoria 2 and ended up getting A House Divided, which added to that even. I'm looking forward to EU4. I guess I'm glad they've cleaned up their QA process. Hopefully they keep that going.

I'm not missing out on anything - as I buy DLC when I think it's worth the money. Why would I be missing out?

I'm not "anti-DLC" - I'm anti-DLC as it's being handled in most cases.

I couldn't care less what you call content - I just respond to what you get for your money, and DLC is typically a bad deal in my opinion.

Obviously, if you think DLC has had no detrimental effect on expansions and the industry overall - you shouldn't worry about it.
I think DLC's problem is it's created a market for DLC expansions in games that shouldn't have them. In the past, success meant half-assed sequels but now it means DLC and then a half-assed sequel. Dishonored is a game that the developers didn't envision a sequel for but now they're being roped into it by the success and that's how Bethesda rolls. I figure it's going to get a bunch of junky extraneous DLC's (challenge maps! get real!) as well.

I also think DLC has given an opportunity for more experimental addons to be developed. CK2's Sunset Invasion is pretty out there for a company that prides itself on historical simulations (mostly) and that would probably not have happened in a traditional expansion world. I also think Bethesda's weird house thing wouldn't have happened and while I kinda eyeroll at the concept personally, I see that as being another 'experimental' addition. Us PC nerds don't need it cuz we're mod-happy, but the console kids? I bet a ton of LARPy nerds are having a great time building their silly house and don't regret that $5 one bit.

It's a mixed bag. Horse armor sucks. But I have no problem with much of the DLC I grab. I avoid cosmetics and superfluous seeming things but if a game is fun, I'll happily grab a bit of extra content every now and then for it.
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December 22nd, 2012, 13:35
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Also, Paradox games are the very definition of milking products. They have absolutely no shame when they release broken and unfinished games over and over and over. Crusader Kings 2 is a rare example after they've cleaned up their QA process by hiring people with competence to do it. But the vast majority of their games and their DLC have been complete cash-grabs. Then again, people don't seem to mind - so there it is. They fooled me several times with their Hearts of Iron games - but I've stopped supporting them after the third game in the series was just as broken and unplayable as the rest upon release. A travesty.
Actually, I think that Paradox is a good example of DLC done right. They have their large content expansions/DLCs, and their smaller DLCs that adds only some cosmetic upgrades, but are a lot cheaper. You can clearly see what DLC is worth getting for you.
And I actually find their music DLCs to be well worth the asking price. As those games are quite lengthy, the soundtrack can get a bit repetitive after a while (even if it is relatively lengthy)

These minor cosmetic DLCs are a way to keep the art team occupied. Usually they don't have a whole lot to do in some parts of the production cycle, and adding cosmetic DLC makes sure that the company is not forced to pay a bunch of people to sit on their hands, while having no actual negative impact on the game itself.
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December 22nd, 2012, 15:42
In the midst of this back and forth, I came to the realization that I've simply grown to not care about DLC's whatsoever, even for games I enjoy. When I'm inundated with a constant stream of snack-size portions, my expectations diminish. Because of this, I find myself moving on from games a lot faster than in the past and not even paying attention to news of "the next DLC".
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December 22nd, 2012, 18:54
Originally Posted by Fnord View Post
Actually, I think that Paradox is a good example of DLC done right. They have their large content expansions/DLCs, and their smaller DLCs that adds only some cosmetic upgrades, but are a lot cheaper. You can clearly see what DLC is worth getting for you.
And I actually find their music DLCs to be well worth the asking price. As those games are quite lengthy, the soundtrack can get a bit repetitive after a while (even if it is relatively lengthy)

These minor cosmetic DLCs are a way to keep the art team occupied. Usually they don't have a whole lot to do in some parts of the production cycle, and adding cosmetic DLC makes sure that the company is not forced to pay a bunch of people to sit on their hands, while having no actual negative impact on the game itself.
Yeah, instead of focusing on releasing stable and fully functional games, they keep churning out variations on the same handful of themes - and yet they're a small team.

I know that grognards and hardcore strategy fans are starving for meaty grand strategy, but that doesn't excuse such behavior. If you're small, you don't release that many games over that short a time period, unless you're damn sure you can deliver something reasonably balanced and polished.

Yeah, they've gotten better - but it took a LONG time, and they've been milking the same engine to an obscene amount. It's worse than what EA is doing with their sports games.

If you think their small DLC is a good example of DLC, then I'd have to severely disagree. We're talking about a tiny effort worth almost nothing at all - and yet they keep churning them out and people keep buying them. I don't blame them, as they're clearly opportunists. But I'm not going to support it or use it as a good example of DLC. I think it's blatant opportunism - but there's little I can do.

Obviously, I'm not going to find much common ground about DLC with people who support that kind of thing.

So, I think we should just write it down to a difference of opinion. We won't agree anyway.
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December 22nd, 2012, 23:43
Originally Posted by Drithius View Post
In the midst of this back and forth, I came to the realization that I've simply grown to not care about DLC's whatsoever, even for games I enjoy. When I'm inundated with a constant stream of snack-size portions, my expectations diminish. Because of this, I find myself moving on from games a lot faster than in the past and not even paying attention to news of "the next DLC".
That's exactly how I feel about DLC.

I see several of you defending DLC by saying how the amount of content equals that of an expansion, when combined. I won't be the judge of whether that's true or not, as I'm not big on DLC and I have reached a point where I no longer care about it. The reason is simple (to follow up on Drithius): You can pile up a whole lot of snack, but it can never replace a full meal.

What I mean is, I don't care if some DLC adds a new quest line or something like that. So maybe three DLC's add three more (large?) quests, perhaps a new area or two? It's still just snack. What I want from an expansion is one large chunk of content - a single coherent piece of story I can play through, preferably after I've finished the base game. I want an expansion to push the game forward, not add random content along the way. I think the expansion to Diablo 2 is a good example. The main game is four acts long. What the expansion does is simply to add a fifth. When it also adds new classes, it provides a real incentive for replaying the game. The Awakening expansion to DA:O, as some mentioned, is also a good example, I think. I don't remember how long it took me to beat it, but it felt like a substantial addition. And it allows you to continue your story after you've beaten the base game.

DLC, from what I have seen, can never replace any of that by adding random, chopped up content.
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December 23rd, 2012, 00:13
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
If you think their small DLC is a good example of DLC, then I'd have to severely disagree. We're talking about a tiny effort worth almost nothing at all - and yet they keep churning them out and people keep buying them. I don't blame them, as they're clearly opportunists. But I'm not going to support it or use it as a good example of DLC. I think it's blatant opportunism - but there's little I can do.
I think the important part is to look at what part of the team it is that works on these small DLCs. The vast majority of the work goes to the people working with art & sound assets, those who are not working with bugfixing and such things. Now if it would be the programmers and such that did the brunt of the work with these DLCs, then I would agree with you, but those people hardly have to do any work at all with these. Hence companies have found a way to give the people who usually are inactive during the post-launch (and heck, close to pre-launch) phase of a game something to do.
I used to hate the small DLCs until I came to this realization.
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December 23rd, 2012, 00:21
Originally Posted by darkling View Post
It's a mixed bag. Horse armor sucks.
No, it doesn't.

Small DLCs that add tiny little features like that actually are, *gasp*, APPRECIATED by some of us.

I haven't bought the horse armor yet (even though I play Oblivion), but I like the fact that it's there if I choose to want to grab it. And it's only like a dollar or something.

And it adds something cool to the game. Horse armor that from what I read, comes in different shapes, sizes, colors, etc. And it's not just cosmetic, it keeps your horse alive. That is cool to me (and many others).

Since you brought up Oblivion, that game has a list of about 7 or 8 DLC that are bite-sized, small additions. But each of those additions adds something cool to the game, even if it's a small thing.

I don't understand the hate people have towards small DLC. If you don't like it, don't buy it, but there are some of us out there who want costume packs, extra maps, horse armor, player housing, whatever.

And a small DLC is better than nothing.
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December 23rd, 2012, 00:43
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
And a small DLC is better than nothing.
That depends on the content. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. I'd rather not see DLC at all when the only thing being offered is a handful of overpowered weapons\items for $5.
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December 23rd, 2012, 01:24
I am also generally pro-DLC and mostly agree with Fluent (also about horse armor which is a non-issue that has been ridiculously blown out of proportion by many).
The only thing I have a bit of a problem with is day zero DLC, especially if the DLC ships on the disc and just needs to be unlocked via a code (like Risen 2's DLC).
As long as the day zero DLC is optional (e.g. cosmetic stuff) I don't even have much of a problem with that. If the publisher wants to make some extra bucks from people who must really have it all… sure, whatever, have at it… why not?
If the DLC borders on "must-have", however, then that's pretty shabby, e.g. Risen 2 once again where the Steelbeard Treasure DLC that shipped on the disc (offense no. 1) was the continuation of the major cliffhanger quest line of the first part (offense no. 2).

Generally and to answer the thread's question… game development and especially content creation has become increasingly complex, time-consuming and thus costly.
Major expansions do take a lot of time and in an environment of gamers with super-short attention spans you (as the publisher) run the risk that you fund a major expansion that takes 12 - 24 months to develop and when it's finally released no one gives a crap anymore.
So -yes- the days of the major 20 - 30 hr. expansions are all but gone for modern AAA games.
We might, however, see a resurgence of fairly major expansions for games that take less effort in the content creation department, i.e. games like Project Eternity or other KS projects. We'll see about that in 2014 and beyond…
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December 23rd, 2012, 02:14
Originally Posted by Moriendor View Post
The only thing I have a bit of a problem with is day zero DLC, especially if the DLC ships on the disc and just needs to be unlocked via a code (like Risen 2's DLC).
As long as the day zero DLC is optional (e.g. cosmetic stuff) I don't even have much of a problem with that. If the publisher wants to make some extra bucks from people who must really have it all… sure, whatever, have at it… why not?
If the DLC borders on "must-have", however, then that's pretty shabby, e.g. Risen 2 once again where the Steelbeard Treasure DLC that shipped on the disc (offense no. 1) was the continuation of the major cliffhanger quest line of the first part (offense no. 2).
I have an issue with launch day DLC if it either feels like content that should be in the game to begin with (which it far too often does) or alternatively if the game is released in a somewhat buggy state, and the DLC adds more content that most likely was made by the same people who should have been doing the bugfixing. I.e. basically anything that is not purely cosmetic (because that is, as I said above, handled by other people).
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December 23rd, 2012, 09:18
They are certainly gone. So are the games that requires 80~100 hours to meet completion.

So additional content scaled accordingly. How could you expect an expansion to last 20~30 hours when the main game completion requires the same? Now additional content brings 4~6 hours (or less) as you could expect.

Or they can invite to a new walkthrough, changing significantly the gameplay to justify a new run (like Skyrim)

The industry is always looking for more new customers. One way to introduce new customers was to significantly reduce the hours required to finish a game by removing constraints that could force the gamer to spend time on certain activities.

It came at a price as certain activities can not bear shorcuts to be experienced and can not be experienced to the good desires of the player as they need to be forced on a player to be delivered in any meaningful way.
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December 23rd, 2012, 12:46
It's kinda surreal to see someone pick something so small as my opinion on cosmetic DLC and argue against it as though it was my entire point, when it clearly wasn't. Cosmetic DLC is what it is and as long as it's clearly marked so I don't buy pants textures thinking I'm getting something more, I don't care.
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December 23rd, 2012, 21:06
The weird thing about DLCs for me is the price compared to the original game. You pay $50 for a game and get something like 50 hours of fun out of it. Then they try to sell you a DLC that's got maybe 2 or 3 hours of fun for $10. What!? Why am I paying vastly more per hour? Especially with a game where the engine and lots of other groundwork are already done!?!? Eventually the DLC does come down to a reasonable level (i.e. $2.75) but by then I've mostly forgotten about the game.
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December 24th, 2012, 02:19
- Long games - gone
- Long expansions - gone
- Games becoming shorter
- Expansions becoming shorter
- Expansions being replaced by DLCs

The overall circle appears to become shorter and shorter.

Next thing will be "planned software obsolesence" (or how it is spelled) ?

Meaning : "This DLC will delete itself after 1 year, so that you'll have to buy it anew" - would be profit for firms !

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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December 24th, 2012, 13:05
I don't think it's as simple as that. There are still long games (Skyrim, F:NV and DA:O to name a few) and there were plenty of short games back in the day (Fallout 1 - brilliant game, under 20 hours). Going even further back, older games were often short and simple. Games came in different sizes back when…and they do now.

Is there a general trend to less(er) hours overall? Possibly, but there's still lots of scope…and I struggle to finish what's in front of me now, so I don't need longer.

On DLC specifically, I'm neutral. I've had some excellent experiences (F:NV) but there's lots of crap. I generally wait for reviews. I definitely agree that a 2-hour story months later is a waste of time.

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December 24th, 2012, 16:14
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Is there a general trend to less(er) hours overall? Possibly, but there's still lots of scope…and I struggle to finish what's in front of me now, so I don't need longer.
Less hours, but tighter packed content. Games tends to be a bit more varied these days, with less (more or less) repeated content, though as a result they also become shorter, as designers can no longer just copy/paste content or force the player to sit and grind for hours upon hours. And this is something that I do like about modern games.
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December 25th, 2012, 02:09
Good post Dhruin. I agree with most of it and feel the same way, but I disagree that small DLCs that only add a few things are a waste. I look at ALL new content as a positive, no matter how small.

As long as it's done well, that's all that really matters to me.
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