Welcome back for the third part in my series explaining just why I’m a
retro classic gamer. In the previous entries, I expounded on the simplicity that classic gaming represents and also the durability, the shelf life, of old gaming hardware.
Today, I’d like to talk about an element of video gaming that is virtually not to be found among the classics. This is something that is a thorn in the side of modern gamers, something that reeks of calculated, corporate greed. The infamous “DLC”. For the layman: downloadable-content.
Picture this, if you will, for a moment: It’s me in my eighties. I’m sitting on a worn-down rocking chair swaying back and forth slowly on an open porch somewhere in the Midwest. That’s not where I live now, but it may be someday. I’m playing Super Mario World on my Super Nintendo. I don’t know if it’s the same SNES that I have now or if I bought another one. But there I am, the power cord running under the screen door into the house, and I can enjoy the full game from start to finish, from title screen to end credits, Star Road, Bowser’s Castle, Mario and Luigi. I can access every secret and special area with simple skill and know-how.
I don’t need an internet connection. I don’t need WIFI strength. I don’t need my credit card information. I certainly don’t need to pay a second time to download the second half of a game I already paid for. When I bought Super Mario World, I got the whole product.
Not so with these so called “modern” consoles, as if there’s anything modern in the inconvenience of having to pay twice for a game I already bought once. The outrage (outrage!) of the DLC system is such that I can pay for a game but oh, if I want to access a secret area, I gotta pay a separate fee. If I want to select from an assortment of side-missions, I gotta pay a separate fee. If I want to get my fingers on the most advanced gear, I gotta pay a separate fee. If I want to idly admire the worthless cosmetics of new character skins, I’ve gotta pay another fee. And out of this mire of avarice was birthed the massively-multiplayer online experience with its monthly fee and recurring releases of new DLC’s.
Why didn’t we have MMO’s in the old days? Not because we didn’t have good enough internet. Because it would be ridiculous to keep paying for a game you already paid for, to keep paying for new content, rather than just getting all the content at once and having your friends come over for multiplayer without having to charge them.
I hope this review is absolutely scathing. Next-gen developers deserve to be scathed. A crotchety scathe on you!
Back in my day you didn’t need to pay twice for the full game. You got it right off the bat. If they want to charge for spin-off storylines, fine. I just got finished writing reviews for the Arkham series, and they did just that. You had to pay an extra charge for sort of “spin-off” stories, “sequel-esque” tag-ons. That’s alright. Why? Because it seems enough as if it’s outside the main game and indeed that it ought to be. So pay an extra charge if you want Harley’s Revenge or Cold, Cold Heart.
But charging for new skins? Charging for unlockable playable characters? Why not just make them unlockable for achieving some feat, like they did in the golden age? Why not make that the reward for accomplishing some horrendously challenging side-quest? Oh, that’s right. Because a little ping and a shiny digital trophy is substitute enough.
Harrumph, I say. If we all harrumph hard enough, maybe we won’t be spoon fed crimes against humanity like Star Wars Battlefront. What an atrocity. EA’s 2015 disasterpiece costs about as much as a trip on the Millennium Falcon to a galaxy far, far away. Upon release, it had so little content, it was like buying less than half a game and then on top of that you still have to shell out more moolah if you want to get the full experience.
So why am I a
retro classic gamer? Go ahead and adjust for inflation. You can say that classic games and consoles had comparable prices to today’s next-gen examples, but at least you didn’t have to keep paying for a game you already purchased. Video games aren’t cheap. DLC and monthly fees for content access make them even more expensive. So I’ll just be sitting on mah porch with my Super Nintendo while thousands are milking their bank accounts dry for games that have a price tag with an infinity symbol.
Does that seem a little too extreme, or am I right on the proverbial button? Let me know if you agree or disagree if a friendly, neighborhood comment below! Look for more upcoming posts and I’ll do my best to continue to deliver the righteous truth of the value of classic gaming.
-The Well-Red Mage