Today on Bethesda’s blog, they finally revealed details regarding Fallout 4‘s downloadable content, the first of which is scheduled to arrive in March. I won’t waste your time going through all the details (that’s what the link is for), but this announcement is worth talking about for a few reasons. Gird your eye-loins, here’s some Mostly Average Analysis for ya.
For the three DLC packs they announced today, Bethesda has three different price points. March’s “Automatron” seems to release a glut of Robo-enemies into the Wasteland and gives players the ability to collect spare parts and create a customized robot friend of their own! No word on the personalities of said robots, but they note being able to pick paint schemes and voices. I can see this as a strategic addition to the player’s arsenal as well, if you can select what kind of weapons the robots are packing, then you can craft specific helpers to assist against certain enemies/missions. That’s fun AND useful folks! All that costs you $9.99. No word on if there are actual missions/quests involved in this DLC of if it’s just FIGHT NEW THINGS.
April’s “Wasteland Workshop” sounds interesting at the very least. It talks about using craftable cages to trap baddies and pitting them against each other in a terrifying yet thrilling example of the Lone Wanderer’s God-like abilities. Also more craftables. (TUBE LIGHTING!) If that DLC sounds smaller and therefore should be less costly to you, Bethesda agrees. That comes with a $4.99 price tag.
May’s scheduled release is the largest of the three announced DLC additions, and with it comes the heftiest cost. $24.99 nabs you with what really sounds like a full-on expansion pack. A massive new island which Besthesda dubs the “largest landmass for an add-on that we’ve ever created” is the location for a mysterious synth-centric quest line which one again pairs the Wanderer with pulp robo-detective Nick Valentine. New weapons, gear, faction quests, settlements and enemies abound in “Far Harbor.”
Which such a wide price gap and more DLC to come (we’ll talk about that in a minute), I’d expect to see more content-specific price points. I’d think $24.99 would be as high as these add-on’s go, but $15 or $20 packs are just as likely as another $10 piece.
The Season Pass Is More Expensive… Starting March 1st
In what is probably the biggest takeaway from the post is the increase in cost for Fallout 4‘s Season Pass. Since the game’s release in November, gamers have been able to purchase Bethesda’s season pass for $29.99, which seemed to me like a fair price tag for a pass for a game like Fallout 4 and a publisher like Bethesda. I assumed we’d be getting our thirty bucks’ worth in the form of new quests, locations, and gear. We have examples of extensive DLC releases for like Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3, and Fallout: New Vegas to support that theory. So even though some “Season Passes” make me furious (like Star Wars: Battlefront‘s $50 blood-sucker that has barely seen any worthwhile DLC), I was accepting of Bethesda’s pricing. I wasn’t ready to drop the dough on it until I heard more, but at least I knew it wasn’t a total gouging.
Now that the DLC is being planned and developed, Bethesda has come to the conclusion that $30 just isn’t enough return on their development. Starting March 1st, the price of the Fallout 4 Season Pass jumps up to $49.95 for what Bethesda claims is $60′ worth of content. This is where I start having issues. $50 is practically the price of a brand new AAA title, and we’re being forced to pay it for what should realistically amount to a fraction of the initial game. If a company is releasing so much DLC that it dwarfs what originally came with the game, then maybe that game didn’t have enough content to begin with *cough*Star Wars*cough*. In the case of Fallout 4, maybe this content coming out amounts to what, 30% of the size original game? And they’re asking me to pay 83% of the full game’s price? THAT MATH DOES NOT COMPUTE.
Post-launch DLC is still a relatively fresh industry practice in terms of the gaming industry’s lengthy history. It’s still changing to accommodate MMO’s, MOBA’s, mobile games, FPS’, lengthy-ass RPG’ and their various differences / content offerings. Sometimes a publisher’s pricing is dead-on (like a $1.99 Back to the Future car pack add-on for Rocket League). Other times we end up paying out the butt for notoriously soft and short “seasons” of DLC, like Arkham Knight’s $40 worth of skins and unbelievably short missions that never sucked me in.
Now, Bethesda is doing something that is simultaneously kind and profit-oriented. Anyone who has already bought the Season Pass at $30 will get everything that they’re owed from the pass, regardless of the price jump. Anyone who buys it before March 1st gets that same deal. After that, you’re paying the new normal of $50. This is generous of Bethesda because it means they’re not shorting original buyers of the pass, who are now getting more content than likely was expected. It also gives hesitant buyers two weeks to jump in on the pass before the price goes up. However, since the rest of the DLC is still unannounced, this could just be another way for Bethesda to get even more buys for the Season Pass than they already managed. It’s essentially another pre-order. The amount of money Bethesda pulls in on these pre-orders could impact the amount / quality of the DLC that is still to come. More pre-orders? Cool! Better content. If not, the profit margin probably stays the same and the content is shorted. That feels more than a little crappy to me. I was already leaning towards jumping in on the Season Pass, but now I feel like that decision is being forced, not allowed. I’d pay $30 now for unknown content to avoid being gouged $50 later for a known quantity which might be greatly enjoyable but not worth a $20 up-charge.
It’s a dangerous territory we’re in now, fellow gamers. Where do you stand?