This week Activision is launching a third expansion for Destiny that is supposed to be comparable to a whole new game's worth of content, and as they are entering their second year, it comes not a moment too soon. With a new campaign, new subclasses, and new endgame activities, it seems like Activision has finally decided to let gamers play the full version of Destiny that's been held back for a year now. It's clear that this was their plan all along; to develop a game and then cut pieces out of it to sell back to the consumer individually over a long timeline.
While I don't deny that this is a dastardly way to sell video games, I also can't deny that it works to curb a few other problems plaguing the industry that have yet to be solved, such as game length. Average game length has been shortening over the last few generations of consoles as the market becomes saturated with games competing for our attention. Instead of exploring the full content of a game, a player would move onto the next as soon as the credits would roll, sometimes sooner. Developers realized that they could spend months working on a content-rich game, but a majority of gamers would pass over 90% of the content they spent their time creating. The trend became to create shorter games with less content, but the prices stayed the same. As much as I enjoy games like Bioshock and The Last of Us, it is difficult to justify spending $60 on 8-12 hours worth of gameplay, and so these games end up in used bins, with none of their sales profits benefiting the team that made it. With a game like Destiny, I've easily gotten 100+ hours of gameplay in the year that it has been released, and the collected expansions and core game have cost our household $100; a solid value, in my opinion, and the profits go to the developers (And yes, of course, Activision.)
Selling parts of games piecemeal also gives the opportunity to receive feedback from your community without a prolonged and expensive beta test. It just seems like a kind of punishment to have to pay yet again for helping to make the game better, especially when new players are going to be able to purchase a bundle of all content for $100 but my household is going to pay another $40 for something that should have shipped a year ago. So I'm not sure exactly where I fall on the whole thing. I understand why they do it, although I strongly believe that the budget for the game should have been reigned in (at least for marketing... Why did they need to pay for Peter Dinklage and Led Zeppelin?). If developers aren't getting paid, games will stop getting made, but with the way that publishers like Activision are doing business, it will lead to the end of AAA games as we know it. They push huge budgets at projects, as if it will correlate directly with the success of the game, pandering to their audience with whatever they can reach and assimilate, from Nathan Fillion to classic rock. But gamers aren't like other demographics like moviegoers or fiction readers. We get bored of concepts faster, and transparent ruses insult us. We crack puzzles, we work as a team. These publishers have gotten lucky so far, but one of these days they will overextend themselves on a project they deem perfect, but we won't be there to foot the bill for the half finished product that is less than we deserve.
All it takes is for someone to beat you at your own game, and honestly, you're just business people pretending to be gamers.
Man, I want a new star ocean game...