Bethesda’s Peter Hines: Day-One DLC Debate Stems from Consumers’ Lack of Understanding the Development Process

Bethesda VP Pete Hines thinks that the debate about the acceptability of day-one DLC  comes from a misunderstanding from consumers on how the development process works. Speaking to OXM, Hines said that with most big budget games development of new content would stop a long time before the title’s actual release.

"I think there is [a misunderstanding], at least among a certain segment of the gaming audience," he said.

He also told the publication that there is a long gap between creative work being done and the game being finished, so it makes sense for artists and designers to work on DLC, rather than do nothing.

"I don't think they quite understand the development process and the point at which you have to stop making the game and you have to finish the game. So, the content people stop making new content a fair amount of time before it ships; it's not like in the old days when it was like the day before or a week before."

"There's a pretty long gap where your artists and designers are fixing a bug if they get one, or they may be playing the game to find bugs, but they're not making a new anything for a long time, and you have creative people who are used to creating – so why would you make them wait some period of time, months in some cases, to start making new stuff so you can say it was after DLC?"

Hines went on to say that consumers and developers should just do what they think is right when it comes to day-one DLC. If developers see a need for it they should make it, and if consumers think it is unfair because it is already on disc, then they shouldn't buy it.

Source: Develop



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  1. 0
    black manta says:

    For some reason, Heart of the Swarm – or for that matter, Diablo III – doesn't bother me as much as it does with other games that require always-online connections.  Maybe it's simply because and the online skirmishes have become so intrinsically part of the StarCraft experience that it feels kind of like an inevitable, logical progression.  Sure, I still primarily play the single-player campaign, and to set-up a single-player skirmish in the Custom Game section feels counter-intuitive and obtuse.  And I don't really like the little lag I experience while playing these games.  But it's the nature of the beast.

    StarCraft II is also kind of a unique case, where what you've really got there is one big game spread out over three installments.  Blizzard has likened it to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, where the next movie would come out every few years or so (though hopefully we won't have to wait as long for Legacy of the Void).  It's weird, yeah, and I'm not a fan of that approach, but when you consider that the single-player campaign for each faction is twice as long as it was for StarCraft I, plus you're getting a lot of other content with each release, I'd say it's a fair trade-off.

    And while I'm at it, I just want to make a bit of time to address the whole griping about the "Always On-Line" requirement.  Whenever I hear complaints about this,  I just want to say, "Oh, you and your First-World problems."

    Yes, I know there are still parts of the country that don't have high-speed internet.  Those are also the same parts of the country that, 50-60 years ago, didn't have electricity or running water.  But in time, they got it.  And in time, they'll also get high-speed internet.  It's just the latest thing they have to do without at the moment.

    All I'm saying is, all this whining about always-on connections seems to me to be just the griping of the privileged because they have nothing else worth griping about, as most of them already have an internet connection.  You already need an internet connection to get the most out of your Xbox 360 or PS3, so I really don't understand how much worse it is for the 720 or Durango to be doing the same.  From what I can tell, it'll be just that much more prominent a feature on it.  When you look at how cable set top boxes really work, there's really not much of a distinction except one has a drive and can play games while the other doesn't.

    So call me clueless or out of touch, but I honestly can't comprehend what the big deal really is.

  2. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    To me it is the idea that my gaming is reliant on factors outside my control. I can control when I turn on my game system. I can control which game I want to play. I can choose what mode I want to play. However, I cannot choose when my ISP decides to do maintenance or when someone decides to hit a telephone pole and thus cutting my internet. I also cannot choose when 5 million other people want to play the game risking clogged servers and server downtime.

    Sure, you could counter that I also cannot choose power outages which also effect when I can play, but those don't happen near as often as server and ISP outages. Additionally, at least in my area there are factors that I can watch for such as weather that can help me predict possible power outages. 

    Every generation of console so far has not been reliant on the internet. This generation was the first to really feature it as a core part of its functionality, but it was never required. That lack of requirement is what made it a good selling point. You weren't forced to participate, whether you had the capability or not.

    Now you elude to the idea that in 50-60 years internet will be so ubiquitous that people will wonder how they survived without always online functionality. Well. I have news for you. We are living in today not 50-60 years from now. Today, ubiquitous high speed broadband connections do not exist. Today, over half the US would not be able to comply with always on requirements. Today, people will not want something they cannot use. I doubt any of that will change between today and the 720's release date.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  3. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Then halve your prices, a 60$ unfinished game means no buy from me and that includes Skyrim and Heart of the swarm…I am so lucky I have passed on paying for SC2 its ok but good god handicapping features for your multiplayer is bad enough skimping on content for HOTS is worse… pass just pass… Not worth the money.

  4. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    You know what I miss? Expansion Packs. Why can't we bring those back? Nothing was greater than getting Warcraft 2 and then buying the expansion later on to take the world further than the main game went. It worked out very well for Blizzard and the large number of other companies that used them too.

    What DLC has done is taken that expansion pack chopped it up and served it to fans piecemeal. Not exactly the experience most fans want. 

    What sets Expansions apart from DLC was the aura of completeness that came with them. When you bought an Expansion, you felt that you were getting a complete and completely new experience for a game you enjoyed. With DLC, you get the feeling of dropping $10 on horse armor.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  5. 0
    Sajomir says:

    So you'd rather have the devs make us wait for stuff they already have completed? What if some of that DLC that's already completed can be used from the start of the game? (bonus character recruitable early on, alternate starting weapon, blah blah)

    If I'm gonna buy a DLC, I don't care when it comes out. If it's good content, I'll be happy to grab it now and play it when I feel like it.

    As long as the core game feels finished and was enjoyable, no one should complain about how the devs divvy up the bonus stuff.

  6. 0
    Imautobot says:

    If it's available on day-one, then it should be free DLC.  If it wasn't a cash crusade, you wouldn't be attempting to fortify your games revenue stream from the moment of launch.  To save face here, you either make it free within a timeframe (like a month), or you hold off on releasing it for a period of time following the launch, then charge for it.  It's insulting to blow $60 on a game and immediately be expected to pay more.  This has nothing to do with your development cycle, it has to do with not shitting on the little guy.  

    At the very least, create the illusion that you didn't intend to bilk us for more.  Though I suppose it's true what they say, your real friends will always stab you in the chest.

  7. 0
    Technogeek says:

    When its simply a case of unfinished content, or plans for future thats one thing, but many of these cases have been narrowed down to some exec deciding to cut material just for the purpose of selling it later.

    I don't think that happens anywhere near as often as people seem to think, though. Stuff was getting cut from games mid-development long before DLC was a possibility, and it'll keep getting cut long after. The biggest thing day one DLC does is give the developers something they can use to convince their publishers to keep funding the game.

  8. 0
    greevar says:

    Instead of putting the DLC on the disc, why not just work on it for longer and make it actually worth that extra $20 they're demanding? $20 is a third of the price of the original game and I think the DLC should at least have content equal to one third of the original game. So far, I think Bethesda has been fairly close to that with Dawnguard and Dragonborn (dragon riding issue aside), but a lot of DLC out there is just frivolous crap or things that should have been in the original game.

  9. 0
    axiomatic says:

    The difference is that putting that DLC on a disc an owner has already purchased "feels" cavalier to the owner of the disc. Remove that owners feeling and you have fixed the issue. Personally I don't mind the process but I understand that feeling of "hey I already own these bits!"

  10. 0
    CyberSkull says:

    There is a difference between unutilized assets on disc and on-disc DLC. I think it is great if developers plan ahead and put a lot of assets on the disc. Things get cut and added from games all through the dev process, and if some extra assets make it in, great!

    But if I have to pay to unlock content already on the disc, I don't like that at all.

  11. 0
    GrimCW says:

    Agreed, its one thing to need to focus on priorities, but when you deliberately pull content just to sell it later as MOST day one has been.. well.. thats just BS.

    When its simply a case of unfinished content, or plans for future thats one thing, but many of these cases have been narrowed down to some exec deciding to cut material just for the purpose of selling it later. Or its such a minor tweak to get it running that there was literally NO reason it couldn't have been finished prior to release.  In a few as you mention, its merely locked on disc with no reason it isn't accessable.

    Long ago this unfinished or intended content was added for FREE by the developers at some point. Maybe a few more bones for the consumer as such and they'll take less hate toward it.


    TBH i prefer the old full on Expansion pack method of extra content. It cost more per pack, but you got an actual feel of satisfaction from the purchase. Usually it shook things up a lot more than simply adding new maps.

  12. 0
    Infophile says:

    I think Hines is missing the point here. People aren’t upset about Day One DLC because it’s released immediately – people are upset about feeling like they aren’t getting the whole game for the initial purchase price. This is particularly bad with on-disc DLC – they feel that they purchased the game disc, and so they own everything that’s on it, and they don’t like having to pay extra for something that’s already on the disc. Now, developers see on-disc DLC as simply a different distribution method, which can save them money on bandwidth for DLC they have ready before launch. Consumers don’t. They see it as breaking up a game in order to charge more money for the whole thing.

    Actually-downloaded DLC is marginally better, but you still won’t get around the fact that consumers will feel they aren’t getting the whole game. It’s a tricky situation for developers, I’ll admit. The cost of production of games is getting higher and higher as graphics standards improve, but there’s a de facto price ceiling of $60 per game. They do have to find some way to turn a profit, but any tricks they use to get around this make some consumers feel like they’re being ripped off in one way or another. And from a business perspective, it might well be better to make some consumers feel ripped off from buying a $60 game plus two $20 DLC packs, when otherwise no one would buy your complete game at $100.

  13. 0
    black manta says:

    This is why I largely don't have a problem with Day-One DLC, as I have a fairly good understanding of a project's development cycle.  So I realize a little extra added something that comes out on day of release isn't a bad thing, and is actually kind of nice.  Seeing as how the game had been technically been finished months ago, it's generally not a bad thing, and probably wouldn't have mattered if it was there or not.  Again, this is why for example I wasn't very upset with the "From Ashes" day-one DLC in ME3.

    It's only when publishers block out large chunks of content, forcing you to pay for it as a "Season Pass" that that practice really becomes odious.  In cases like that, there's no reason that content couldn't have been part of the actual game, and they're propping-up an artificial justification to squeeze more money out of you after the initial purchase.

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