Back in the early days of PC gaming, giving extra content to players was a straightforward affair. Developers simply released an expansion pack that required the original game to play. Today, this is exactly how DLC and other downloadable packages work. Unfortunately, due to several controversies associated with modern DLC, gamers have grown increasingly suspicious of the practice.
Providing added value is one of the central pillars of customer retention – even if it’s something that has to be paid for.
Outside video gaming, the practice often takes the form of things like VIP schemes at stores and casino websites. While CVS has an ExtraCare card that rewards shoppers with real money, the safe online casino PlayStar offers a PlayStar Club that provides players with gifts and promos every month, as well as the chance to move up through five loyalty levels.
All this gives players a feeling of being valued. Video gaming has never really got its added-value elements quite right though, especially when it comes to DLC. The issue goes all the way back to 2012 when fans discovered that Capcom’s Street Fighter X Tekken DLC was already on the disc for the base game, albeit locked away. This raised the question of whether purchasers actually owned the content already.
Put another way, imagine having to pay extra for a hidden track on a music CD you already own. Have you already bought it or not?
Complicating the matter in the present day are season passes, which are usually bundles of as-yet-unreleased DLC. It’s a type of pre-ordering, in other words. The worry now is that developers are cutting content from the base game to serve as this future DLC, effectively meaning that gamers may be paying for something (they feel) they should already have. Of course, this is a hard thing to prove.
The horror game Callisto Protocol reignited this debate recently by claiming that the one thing the genre is built upon – untimely death – would be available as an optional extra. Developer Striking Distance Studios has been forced to deny that the 25 extra death animations included in its season pass were pulled from the main game, noting that “it’s all new stuff” and work on it hasn’t yet begun.
A spiritual successor to the gory sci-fi Dead Space, Callisto Protocol was always going to be creative with its characters’ various ends. However, animations are generally not sold as a separate package, except for multiplayer games like Fortnite and Destiny 2, where posing and dancing are as much a part of the experience as combat. This does make Callisto Protocol’s season pass seem more than a little suspicious.
On the plus side, there is more available in the season pass than animations. A collection of character outfits, an extension of the main story, the introduction of perma-death, and a wave-based battle mode complete Callisto Protocol’s season pass. For many players, all this material will seem to serve as evidence that no double-dealing is being done. It’s worth remembering that none of this has actually been made yet, though.
Regardless of present concerns, Callisto Protocol is one of the most anticipated horror releases in a generation.