Operation: AnchoRant

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(Creed’s note: This is a re-run of a piece that appeared a little while ago at Citizen Game)

Operation: Anchorage, the first piece of downloadable content for Bethesda’s RPG extraordinaire Fallout 3 became available this past week. It’s available on the Xbox 360 and PC platform via Microsoft’s Live service (Marketplace and GFWL respectively) for 800 Microsoft points. And, for reasons I cannot yet comprehend, people have actually bought it.

For a start, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to pay to add more content to the game yet. I’ve sunk well over 30 hours of play time into Fallout 3, completing it twice, and I still have yet to visit even half the locations within the game. It’s not exactly desperately in need of new content, is it? There’s nothing that’s obviously missing from the game story or quest-wise that I can think of, bar a higher level cap and a proper bloody ending, and at least one of those won’t be rectified until Bethesda release another of the planned three DLC packs further down the line.

What Fallout 3 currently needs, as Oblivion did around this time after its release several years ago, is tweaking. Bugs still need to be quashed and there’s so many less than stellar aspects of the game that a handful of mods could so easily improve. I dislike the interface, the size of the dialogue text and the idiotic AI in Fallout, to name just three things, and I’ve no doubt we’ll see some excellent community fixes and changes for these soon enough. It happened with Oblivion, and that’s twice the game with the proper modifications. Fallout will be the same.

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So, right now, I’d contend that the DLC currently available doesn’t provide anything additional that the stand alone game really needs. If it didn’t cost anything I’d download it for the sake of satisfying my curiosity. You really can’t argue with the deficiencies of freely offered additional content and be taken seriously, and I wouldn’t try despite my reservations expressed above. But Bethesda and Microsoft expect us to pay for this. You don’t need it, certainly, and it doesn’t fundamentally improve what’s already there, so why would anyone want to buy it? I sat down and had a little think about the costs and the little bit of math (wait, come back!) involved just further reinforces how silly this (expensive, as we’ll see) DLC pack seems to be. 

O:A is currently 800 MS points, on either platform, and this equates to about €9.60 in, you know, real money. Ignoring for a second that you can’t actually just buy the 800 points you need (You have to buy 1000 for some stupid, arbitrary reason), and assuming that the next two DLC packs will be priced similarly (not unreasonable), then if you want to buy all the DLC as it becomes available you’ll end up spending about €28.80 on those three packs alone. Now, I purchased Fallout on the day of its release for €35 (on PC) from Play.com, and it seems a little ridiculous to me that I’ll need to spend nearly as much again for a few expansion packs that provide a few extra hours play. 

And that cost is further increased by the fact I can’t just buy the points I need. I can’t buy 2400 points, I have to buy 2500. So I end up having to spend €30, all in, with a 100 points left over that I can’t claim back. Being primarily a PC gamer this is especially irritating, as with every other piece of game-related software I’ve ever want to buy (ever!) all I’ve needed is my credit card or my Paypal account, and I pay exactly what I need to. If something is €4.37all I need pay is €4.37. I’m not required to deposit €5 with the seller and then let him hold on to the change on the off chance I may wish to purchase something from him at an indeterminate point in the future. Microsoft, your fun bucks system is really god-damned dumb. 

As it stands, if O:A was the only planned DLC pack, €9.60 represents 27.5% of the cost of the original game. And you need to buy 1000 points to get it, which is €12 and 34% of the cost of the original. According to an early review at Eurogamer the first pack provides around 2.5 hours of new experience that isn’t very good. I don’t know about you, but I think paying a third of the price of the original game for something that doesn’t come close to offering even 1% of the level of content compared to the original is downright stupid.

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2 Responses to “Operation: AnchoRant”

  1. davetheipc Says:

    I may be playing Devils Advocate here but I must argue somewhat against the above statement. I don’t completely agree with what you have said.
    On paper, yes, the DLC is overpriced. 800MS points for 3-4hrs extra is a bit much. But let’s look at other DLC. I’m going to take Guitar Hero as an example. For ONE (count it) additional song they look for 160 points (roughly 2 euro). The game itself costs about 60 euro (plus whatever instruments you feel like getting). There are 80 songs in the game main plus any number of free player-made songs. So in order for the DLC to be an appropriate cost you are looking at 75c per song (or 62.5 MS points).
    My point is that the DLC length vs game length does not need to be represented in the price. Is the quality of the additional content worth €10? Are the additional things it provides to the game worth €10? This is all I want to know. 4 hours more of a truly brilliant game are worth this to me provided the quality remains the same.
    As I stated in my Fallout DLC post, the next two expansions will cost the same and be much the same length, but each will add more to the story and content of the game. The 3rd will come with a boosted level cap of 30.
    And I would imagine that some people have gotten further in the game than we have. It’s been out since October and is frighteningly addictive so some folk may want more. I’m happy it’s coming now as I’ve just cleared the game and at some point during my next playthrough I will want the higher cap and extra stuff to do. If the big-ass game keeps getting bigger, who am I to argue?
    Now that is not to completely go against you. I too hate the “you need to buy this set amount of points” stuff. It’s ridiculous. I know I’ll likely end up using the extra points, but I can’t help but feel I’m using them only because I have them, not so much that I want whatever it is I’m buying.
    I have no doubt that Bethesda will clear out more of the bugs that so sorely need to be removed as they appear to acknowledge all complaints made on their forums and fix them if possible. Here’s hoping they didn’t just stop with that last one, as I’ve had a few glitches since then too.

    So basically, no game needs extra content really, but that won’t stop us wanting it. We are getting more of a good thing. It costs a tenner a go sure, but that doesn’t bother me so much. If I can spend roughly €30 in a few months time to give a game I’ve thoroughly enjoyed an extra ~10hrs of game play, an extra 10 levels of character development (with new perks I would hope), more weaponry and items to hoard and overall just more shite to do then I say bring it on.

  2. Pete Says:

    February 5, 2009 at 4:52 pm…the first crack is seen in what would come to be known as ‘The Russell Court Massacre’

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