I feel I owe you the sincerest of apologies, for my piece a few months ago, on your pricing of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s Expansion Pass. How erroneous of me to refer to it as exorbitant. At $30.00 AUD for two separately released bundles with no player choice as to its contents, nor ability to purchase them separately, in retrospect, it was positively magnanimous. After all, who wouldn’t be gifted with aesthetic and practical piece de resistance that is the Tingle Outfit that Link can be adorned with? What folly I have committed!
In all seriousness, however, I am aghast at the extortionate Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentina downloadable content price tag. Whilst Fire Emblem DLC, for the more recent 3DS titles, has never exactly been what one would call a bargain, and has, in some instances, come close to totalling the original game’s RRP, Fire Emblem Echoes’ feels particularly insidious. Five DLC packs purchased independently will total $76.50 AUD ($51.95 USD), whereas, in comparison, the Season Pass will cost $67.50 AUD ($44.99 USD). Despite the evident disparity in price, emblematically, I can’t even discriminate between the two enough to decide which is more unconscionable.
DLC Pack #1
Fledgling Warriors Pack (May 20th, AU$12.00 / NZ$13.20, three pieces of content)Ideal for gamers who are in the early to middle stage of the story, this pack includes a new dungeon (The Astral Temple) that allow players to collect more items, and two new battle maps – one ideal for gaining more silver coins, and the other ideal for earning more experience points.
DLC Pack #2
Undaunted Heroes Pack (May 25th, AU$15.00 / NZ$16.50, three pieces of content)In addition to a new dungeon (The Inner Sanctum), this pack also includes two new challenging battle maps suited for stronger, more seasoned heroes – one ideal for battle-hardened heroes to earn more experience, while the other will help players earn even more gold.
DLC Pack #3
Lost Altars Pack (May 25th, AU$22.50 / NZ$24.75, ten pieces of content)The mysterious dungeons included in this pack hold the power to upgrade characters to exclusive classes that don’t appear in the main game, allowing them to reach even greater heights of power and greatness.
DLC Pack #4
Rise of the Deliverance Pack (June 1st, AU$19.50 / NZ$21.45, four pieces of content)Discover the previously-untold history of Valentia in this Prologue pack.Complete with brand new story content and additional voice-acting that details the rise of the Deliverance in Zofia, this collection of challenging maps includes new support conversations between selected heroes, as well as the ability to take command of a character players won’t be able to control in the main game.
DLC Pack #5
Cipher Companions Pack (Release date to be revealed at a later date, AU$7.50 / NZ$8.25, two pieces of content)Some new heroes from Fire Emblem Cipher, the popular Japanese trading card game, will become available for recruitment in Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. More information about this final DLC pack will be revealed in the future.
Season Passes, if constructed optimally, can be mutually beneficial for player and publisher alike, as whilst the latter may not have fully developed the product in question, they can still make a return on it. Concomitantly, despite limiting players in choice and compelling players to purchase DLC all at once, Season Passes may be promoted as offering better value, shaving off a fraction of the original cost. However, “value” is a term that is increasingly becoming obscure in the lexicon of gaming publication of late, as more companies appear to be trimming more and more delicious, meaty goodness alongside the fatty offcuts that are commonly marketed as extraneous content. As such, the true value of the base game is increasingly questionable.
Juxtaposed against this, Fire Emblem Echoes occupies a curious position. Whilst being a remake of a Japanese-only title released for Nintendo Entertainment System, it expounds upon its plot significantly, reinforced by 3D graphics, animated cut scenes and support conversations. Furthermore, the game even features a new chapter, chronologically taking place after the former final chapter in its original game. With so much being remodeled and rebuilt into the game, that begs the compelling question- why couldn’t some of this DLC content have been added to the main game?
Naturally, the answer is incontrovertible; it’s more lucrative when it remains as DLC.
Admittedly, Fire Emblem’s maps are as lengthy and tactical or as perfunctory as the player wishes to make them, and there remains substantial replayability in them, regardless of their narrative. Despite being sorely tempted to break down games on a cost versus number of playable episodes, it’s a futile endeavor when considering the subjectivity of player experiences. What is irrefutably objective, however, is that even without being compared to Fire Emblem Echoes’ price tag of $59 averaged against its 30-33 locations across its world where combat may take place, the Season Pass is prohibitively poor value. Any downloadable content that offers less playable sections at the price of more would be, even without being announced before the game was physically released to English-speaking countries.
Were we all complicit in this? Was our nonchalance at Fire Emblem: Awakening and Fire Emblem: Fates’ approach to selling their extraneous content in individual chunks to blame? Was this Nintendo’s surreptitious way to test our receptivity to the extent of their avarice? After all, the total cost of Fire Emblem: Awakening’s individually purchased episodes was $77.35 AUD ($57.10 USD), in comparison to the total cost of $61.10 AUD ($48.80 USD) for purchasing eight packs of three episodes. In only purchasing a very select number of episodes for $2.60-$3.25 AUD ($2.50-$3.00 USD) at a time, I certainly never noticed.
Furthermore, whilst we should rightly decry Nintendo for their audacity to charge so much in the first place, the reality is that the more mendacious downloadable content/preorder culture as a whole needs edification, and desperately. The fear of missing a complete gaming experience is being excessively capitalized upon by copious other companies, and we need to stop facilitating it. We can collectively demand better.
Now, if only I had the good sense to stop being swayed be preorder exclusive items…
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