The news broke last week that Batman: Arkham Knight’s Season Pass was £40, the price of the game all over again. With the announcement, players and potential buyers were promised 6 months of content and literally nothing else. But you guys know that you can pre-order now and play as Harley Quinn, right?? Because that was literally in the first goddamn trailer. You know last week on the So Let’s Talk About… when I said I might stop playing games for a while. This is what I was talking about. So let’s peruse the dirty world of marketing video games shall we?
It’s probably important to preface this by saying that I was totally onboard for Arkham Knight. The Arkham series (the Rocksteady ones anyway) has largely been great and although I enjoyed Asylum far more than City, I am invested in the story enough to want to see the thing through to the end of the trilogy. But the dark force of video game marketing has reared it’s ugly face. It’s constantly bombarding me with utter shit. And with all the shit comes another fee.
Now I am a university student. When I buy something, I expect it to be a complete package. Because I’m investing an actual sum of money which I could use on food, water, travel…etc. I don’t buy a ham sandwich and then find out the ham is an extra £14.99. Why should this be different with games? But Arkham Knight is just that. It seems to have been carved up into little morsels to be doled out at the will of WB.
I totally stand by the thought that if you announce stuff before a video game is out, it should be in the video game. Case in point. The Last Of Us. Great game. Great DLC. Left Behind was a fantastic prequel DLC, but it didn’t appear until months after the main game came out. That might of been because Naughty Dog built the whole thing from the ground up (Ellie models notwithstanding) from the ground up AFTER THE GAME CAME OUT. We didn’t even know what the story DLC was going to be for months.
My sentiment though is not echoed by the video game publishing moguls. Pre-order bonuses and DLC hype is pretty much a given out of the gate. Literally when someone announces a game, the pre-order bonus is there for all to see. The first trailer for Arkham Knight had that Harley Quinn bonus as a stinger. Of course the Arkham series has that in spades, although (I at least like to think) its WB and not Rocksteady.
Pre-order bonuses aren’t new, no, but they seem to have become more garish this year. Every game that’s announced is shoved in your face. Harley Quinn! Villains invading! Race tracks! I mean come on. Race tracks?? Batmobile race tracks?? That’s possibly the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Why would the Batmobile race? The sad thing is that the drama around the Batman: Arkham Knight Season Pass sours me on the game. What was once a no-brainer to buy is now slightly foggy. I honestly don’t know if I’ll get it now.
‘I don’t buy a ham sandwich and then find out the ham is an extra £14.99’
Is that bad? I don’t know. It’s discounting all the developers who worked hard on the game. And the faith I had on the series. But I just find the myriad of decisions made by Mr Business so disgusting! And I think it’s because it so obviously peels back the layer of unreality on the business world. Everything is about money. MONEY. MONEY. MONEY. All we need is money. You live, you spend money, you die. That’s it. When all is said and done, that’s all. You and I love video games, but if people can charge more for them, they will. It’s disgusting but it seems to be the way the industry has been heading for a while.
Mortal Kombat X was one such title that received a scolding postmortem. On day one, players enjoyed the game (it’s pretty good) but also received messages to ‘PURCHASE GORO’ shoved in their faces. Goro is totally and unashamedly on the disc of Mortal Kombat X as is a bunch of story NPCs. I think it’s acceptable to ask that it would be cool if I bought a game and not be asked to pay more at every opportunity. Easy fatalities for £3? No thank you. Everything unlocked in the Krypt for £15? No thanks, because I bought the game to play it. That STORY PAK better be free.
Are we living in a world where you can buy games without actually buying games? How far can this pre-order bonus DLC-baiting bullshit go? Okay, so a game I have enjoyed this year is Bloodborne (review incoming). It had three optional areas where I was actually surprised that it wasn’t DLC. These were areas that felt totally independent of the main world, and kinda felt like the DLC areas of Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2. It was unbelievably refreshing to set foot into these areas, prolonging an already long game. From Software are great are providing value, and unfortunately that is a selling point in the current market. Value for your buck.
Money makes the world go round. So saddle up and be prepared to pay for your thrills.
You can pre-order the next post. Pre-order now and play as Chris McGeorge!