Wednesday, February 13, 2013

DLC and Downloadable Games

I'm kind of old-fashioned: I really like having physical copies of the games I play. This is probably because of how I play games: I'll go back after a few months and look through all the games I bought and see whether any of them strike me as replayable. I also used to like lending games out to my friends, although that's not as common these days. Either way, a big stack of cartridges and CDs is a literal game library.

All of that may just be an excuse, though. I own more downloadable games than disk games, but it's the disk games I keep going back to.

Fundamentally, I play games in a bubble. Any part of the gaming experience which pops the bubble, well, pops the bubble.

I knew I was going to hate DRM - so I don't buy games with DRM. But I expected to be able to adapt to DLC, always-connected play, trophies, and downloadable games in general. But it's just not happening. Every year I get more annoyed by these practices. They make it impossible to play a game in a bubble. I'm riding a horse around looking for a dragon to kill and the game is going "SONY HEY INTERNET SONY DRM DLC TROPHY TROPHY MICROSOFT ON-LINE COMPETITIVE SONY DRM DLC DLC COULD YOU SPARE SOME CASH DLC DLC?"

Yeah, pretty much ruins the experience.

Downloadable games can form a bubble pretty well - as well as a console game, I guess. But they rarely do. Usually they are filled to the brim with distractables. Even if they do manage to make me forget GAME GAME MONEY GAME DLC DLC, there's still the matter of remembering they exist.

I kind of thought about turning this on its head. What can we do to strengthen the bubble?

What if we distribute a game on a thumb drive? It's just some ordinary kind of open-world game, like an RPG or a Minecraft clone. Lots of customization and exploration.

The game only runs while the thumb drive is in the computer. It offers you the option of connecting to the internet and other players, but that option is relatively shallow: you can get true multiplay only over a LAN. You only need one thumb drive to let any number of LAN players play together.

Conversely, you can connect multiple thumb drives to one computer to merge their worlds, or to multiple computer on the LAN to create easy pan-world bridges...

The idea is that the very act of having a physical dongle creates a bubble. The game itself doesn't have to be single-player or offline. It just has to revolve around the dongle. Everything else is outside the bubble.

I dunno if it's any good, as ideas go. I'm pretty sick right now. But the long and short of it is that I just can't immerse myself in games that talk about the internet, about DLC, about trophies... it just distracts me all the time.

1 comment:

Permafrostrocks said...

You are not alone with this "old fashined" way of playing and immerging in games. The market prefessionals wanna make you believe, you have the choice how much of a game you want to buy thorugh massive amounts of DLCs. You don't have to but in the end, a player longs for a complete game. Why wouldn't I want to explore the deserts of Dergaun, why wouldn't I want to fire a musket at my enemies when it practically exists in this game world? Why would I want game developers to hide away game content only to make more cash? This may not be applicabloe to all games making use of DLCs, however, DLCs are mostly a convenience for the people who sell them. As player, I have to buy and buy and buy and buy and buy and maybe buy a huge collection box after years have passed. Especially when you buy a game right after it's release and you have to make all the transactions and player-sided inconviniences you feel more like renting this game than owning it. And as you often emphasize in your blog posts: It definately reminds you that this is a bought thing, not an immersive world of adventures, creativity or whatever. Developers and publishers do not hesitate to remind you of being a customer, not the character you would like to play.