After 4 years since it’s release I have finally completed The Witcher 3’s Blood and Wine DLC. It was a fitting end to the current generation as a hat tip to possibly the best value I’ve received from a triple A game for a long time.
As I prepare to grab my Tim Hortons breakfast and queue to pick up my Playstation 5 with the 2 games I’ve chosen to play at release on Thursday (Demon Souls and Godfall), I think about how much it has set me back, and will continue to do so.
Both of those titles are a hefty £69.99 from Game, a theme that distributors seem to be anticipating to continue through this generation of gaming. I then think of the next to come along the conveyor belt of releases, Immortals: Fenyx Rising and more importantly Cyberpunk. Another three figures needed to gain access to their potentially game of the year status.
When playing Blood and Wine, a DLC that on release would have cost £16.99 standalone or cheaper as part of a ‘pass’, I think a how much of a full game this is on it’s own. This DLC is probably bigger than a Resident Evil game or the new Miles Morales game.
This makes me think about the value of video games and the inflation we are seeing. It certainly isn’t correlated. What makes The Witcher 3 such good value and why aren’t we seeing it more often?
The Witcher 3 & good value
On release The Witcher 3 was so incredibly well received. When loading it up on my birthday 5 years ago I remember seeing it had 21 or so free dlc content items. These items are small things like outfits, haircuts but also some pretty decent missions and an armour set.
CD Projekt Red didn’t feel the need to charge it’s customers for these items but also didn’t feel they were needed as part of the base experience, something that is so rarely seen these days.
For most publishers these items, insignificant as some of them are, would cost you a ‘deluxe‘ or ‘collectors‘ edition to gain access. Something that doesn’t feel like a micro transaction but is. In the same way your pre-order is a micro-transaction (to help investors see their return quicker).
In addition to this, the Witcher 3, as a base game is HUGE. Like one of the largest but also dense and rich worlds with plenty to do. You might say that games such as Skyrim or GTA have big maps, but what do the maps actually hold, looking at you GTA?
They built a game that not only had a great campaign, that admittedly is long but great for it, has side missions equally as good and plenty more for achievement go getters. Then they released a DLC that is more akin to an old school expansion for £8. Yes 8 fucking quid, that included a 8-10 hour campaign, new systems and characters.
In perspective that’s a few FUT packs, a new Fortnite skin or some COD crates. I’m not saying how to spend your money but it’s funny what developers can do for the same cost. To just look like this dude it’s nearly £20.
Then they released Blood and Wine, definitely an expansion this time, that features a casual 20 hour at least campaign, new map, gear, missions and more. At £16.99 it’s the same price as a few more of the above.
Again perspective is great, Destiny recently released its much anticipated Beyond Light expansion and as some that has put in 1250 or so hours into Destiny 2 alone (probably 2000 with Destiny 1 included), I was confused with how little they added.
The expansion is around £35, again as a standalone and features 1 brand new location and 1 from the old game. Some new armour and weapons and 1 strike but a new subclass (or way to play the game of you’re unfamiliar). There’s a campaign of around 6 hours if you’re casual with it. All in all it’s a days worth of ‘new’ content (until the raid releases) before you’re playing the base game again.
So why the difference?
How has it become normal that a DLC is nothing more than a reskin of existing content or a minimal addition to the game?
Gone are the days that you would add another 25% of the game for a cost equal to that. It’s frustrating to see DLC passes cost £30 with little added. At this rate COD and FIFA are yearly dlc’s that equal a full price game.
Not all companies are as guilty as EA or Activision but there is certainly a trend to sell cosmetics as DLC content rather than make additional content. I know I would rather wait a year for a good DLC (or 4 years in my case) than 6 months to play the base game that looks different or 1 or 2 worth additions.
Blood and Wine btw, excellent. Great story, looks beautiful and the new bits to do and collect are time worthy (if that hasn’t come across already).
Lets hope with the inflation and hardware available that the passion returns and DLC’s become more meaningful to the games they are attached to and we throw away the high expectations and low delivery.