In this column, Sakurai wishes everyone a happy new year and shares his thoughts on different types of DLC. This column comes from Famitsu’s first issue of 2018, the same issue that had the New Year’s discussion between Sakurai, Ueda, and Kamiya (translated here).
Note: Do not repost the full translation. Please use the first two paragraphs, link to this translation, and credit Source Gaming. The following is a selection from Famitsu. This translation is for fan use only, and may not accurately reflect the opinions of Masahiro Sakurai. If you enjoyed this article, I would strongly encourage you to support Sakurai by buying his books. Translated by Brando and MasterOfBear. Thanks to Crane and PushDustIn for comments.
Another Round of Fun
Originally published in Famitsu on January 11, 2018
Happy new year! It’s time to celebrate the beginning of a new year, but it’s also about time for Mega Man and Final Fantasy to celebrate their 30th anniversaries. In 2018, games such as Dragon Quest III and Snatcher turn 30, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Xenogears turn 20. Time sure does fly…
During the end-of-year sales war I played a variety of games, but among those, many were titles that I’d already played before.
As for why, it’s not that I was feeling nostalgic for some good old classics. It was DLC!
Specifically, it was scenario add-on DLC for games like Horizon Zero Dawn, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Resident Evil 7, and Final Fantasy XV. Nioh Complete Edition also came with the base game’s downloadable expansions. Currently, it has become very common for large-scale titles to add on not items, but extra events and episodes as DLC.
For the times when I want to enjoy a game even further, I’m very glad for this kind of DLC. Though, if there’s a long span of time between when I beat a game and when I come back to it, I have to start with remembering the controls. It’s pretty rough. Especially since Horizon and Zelda were timed so close together, it was like the same sensation I went through when the games first came out**. The things you do in both games are similar, so it gets confusing! Especially with the former, the beginning of the DLC pits you against some tough enemies, so it was a bit of a struggle. In a lot of cases, DLC is intended for players who’ve already cleared the game, so there’s a tendency to ramp up the difficulty level and make players sweat.
**Translator’s Note: Sakurai talked about this a bit in the column he wrote at the time, translated here.
I definitely think there are arguments both for and against DLC. It’s natural to say something like, “But I would have had more fun if this stuff was included from the start!” However, I think that carefully crafted DLC tends to be released further away from the game’s original launch date.
Why is there a delay until the DLC gets released? Because game production takes a considerable amount of time, of course. For a normal 3D game, it’s not uncommon for development to take over a year when adding new scenarios, areas and enemies. The full staff from the main game often don’t stay on the project, and another round of debugging is required. If a new item is added, it has to be checked to make sure it doesn’t cause any problems anywhere in the game world. When creating DLC from scratch, you can’t get around the fact that it’s going to take some time.
And if it takes time, it’s also going to cost money. The market for people who might buy the DLC is limited to people who already bought the main game. Committing to an extended development period like this is a riskier business model than one might think.
So with all of that to consider, I’m thankful when a good game gets DLC! It’s a waste to just end things with the base game, and if someone isn’t interested in buying it, they don’t have to, so there’s no problem.
However, from a buyer’s perspective, I think season passes are puzzling. Not knowing what the contents are, but paying for them in advance?! That sounds a little scary, doesn’t it.
But, I did buy most of the season passes and DLC for the previously mentioned titles. Maybe it’s best to think about it as an investment into what I hope will be an interesting game, and enjoy things without thinking about it too hard.
If you like something, I think being able to dig into it and enjoy it more is a good thing.