Holy Long John Silver, Batman! Warner have just announced the price for the Batman: Arkham Knight season pass, and it’s a rather eye opening thirty-three pounds. Let those words roll around your head for a while: Thirty-three pounds. That’s over half the cost of the game! The recommended retail price for Arkham Knight is £55 (online retailers be damned), so altogether you’re looking at an outlay of £88 for Arkham Knight and its DLC (which, is optional, to be fair). Granted, there’ll be various avenues to go down to save money. Supermarkets and online outlets like Amazon and Gameseek will undercut regular retail and each console’s relevant stores.
Rocksteady’s previous Batman games also had DLC, which were, in a word, bobbins. Only the Catwoman content from Arkham City was interesting, while the challenge maps and costumes lost their appeal rather quickly. Considering the cost of Arkham Knight’s season pass you’d think they’d be looking to improve that. Purchasers will get regular new content for six months after the launch of Arkham Knight, these will consist of new story missions, super-villains, challenge maps, Batmobile skins, character skins and drivable race tracks; I don’t know about you, but so far, I’m really not feeling it.
How the fuck did we ever get to the point where publishers insist that RRPs for games should be in the fifty to sixty pound bracket and then be able to charge on top of that for as yet non-specific extras? Thing is, whenever this question is asked the usual response is trotted out: ‘If you don’t like it, then don’t buy it,’ the cry comes, well, yes; but pretty much all big releases are being accompanied by this rather terrible practice now, am I supposed to not buy everything to get a point across?
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will come with tens (possibly hundreds) of hours of play in its vanilla form, with many pieces of free DLC to follow, and then two, (ten to twenty hour) packs of DLC within the first year after launch. CD Projekt’s title is currently up for pre-order on the respective console stores with its season pass for £61.99. That’s a considerable amount of game there for a lot less than Warner is asking for Batman. Compare this to another forthcoming big game Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, where you can pre-order the game plus its season pass for £79.99, not cheap, but still cheaper than Batman considering the popularity.
Granted, there are worse examples too, Destiny’s Guardian Edition is still £84.99 digitally, and then there’s Battlefield Hardline’s Ultimate Edition which sits with its wallet shredding price point of £104.99. It’s a sad state of affairs as the companies know they can set these price points because they know people will pay them. They know that in spite of the wailing and the gnashing that there’ll be plenty of people who will pay without batting an eyelid and a few more who will do so grudgingly. There’ll be many who will circumvent the RRP cost by seeking out the best value deals, but the publishers will still get their money regardless and that will make them feel justified.
Warner are at the forefront of people’s minds at the moment. We’ve had the Shadows of Mordor YouTube debacle, their Lego Dimensions base price point, Press X to Goro in Mortal Kombat X and now this. All of these are practices that consumers and writers of the industry abhor and yet show no signs of slowing down. It seems that this tells us that there’s enough being made from it for companies like Warner, like EA and like Activision-Blizzard to allow them to believe that they can just keep doing it.
I’ve got no problem with the ‘games as platforms’ way of things. If DLC can add significantly to a game post launch – and not just contain stuff that was included from the off but lopped out or should have been included in the original product – then it’s worthwhile. But announcing DLC way ahead of release, and for an extortionate price point is dreadful and I can’t see how consumers can stand for it much longer. This sort of practice is fast becoming a pox on the industry, and I for one will not stand for it.