Written by Lee Garbutt.
As I’m writing this, I’m waiting for my copy of Batman: Arkham City to arrive through my letter receptacle with its shiny, cellophane wrapped goodness ready to be torn open and digested slowly over the next few months.
But already the internets’ crybabies have descended to create some sort of minor controversy over Rocksteady/Warner Brothers’ decision to take the much publicised Catwoman sections of the game and only allow free access to them for those who buy the game new; the preowned masses having to pay for the privilege of controlling the be-goggled Ms. Kyle. The collective whingebags cry foul that they are being denied elements of the game because they didn’t buy the game new and that they are being screwed over.
Get over it.
This isn’t the same as the Online passes that have been employed by EA, THQ, Warner Brothers and more over the past year. The Catwoman bonus content is just that – A bonus. While I agree that there is a certain level of betrayal displayed by Warner Brothers because we were all led to believe these sections were part of the game, at the end of the day this is content that is not essential to the game. I also don’t agree with the large quantities of DLC skins available for the game, but these are cosmetic things that aren’t required to full enjoy Arkham City.
But I wholeheartedly defend the Catwoman content; this adds additional Achievements/Trophies and content that is separate from the standalone game, with the Arkham City’s Director, Sefton Hill, commenting (in an interview with Wired.com) that Catwoman’s sections are likened to a “guest star” role and “make up less than 10% of the game’s total content.”
If you buy this game used, the main game is still playable and you are not denied anything integral to Arkham City’s experience. Compare it to the previously mentioned Online passes, which withhold essential gameplay modes such as multiplayer, the Catwoman content is a much more palatable solution for rewarding those who buy the game new.
Simply put, this is exactly how developers and publishers should be giving consumers incentives to buy new games over preowned copies. Used gamers still have the option of paying a small fee for the content, unlike the many instances of retailer specific DLC that saturate both online retailers and classic brick-and-mortar stores. No one is forcing you to buy the additional content.
This isn’t even the first time this has occurred. Remedy’s Alan Wake employed the same method on its release, with new copies of the game containing a code to download the first piece of DLC when it was available. This was a low-key gesture on Remedy/Microsoft’s part; that was a genuinely pleasant surprise when I opened the case to find a redeemable code inside. I don’t recall anyone complaining, and while it wasn’t a release on the scale of Arkham City, it wasn’t exactly a small-scale release with little hype.
With more and more gamers becoming savvy to the used game market, what choice to publishers have to recoup the rising costs of games development, than to coax people into giving their money to those who develop/publish these games, as opposed to those who sell them. Even the studios that develop Triple-A bestselling games aren’t safe from the ravages of financial ruins (See L.A. Noire developers Bondi Studios for one of the highest profile examples of this). Rocksteady Studios have crafted one of the greatest videogames ever with Arkham City (Only their third developed title), and what’s more: They are British. With other Brit-houses such as Black Rock, Free Radical and Bizarre Creations falling by the wayside in recent years, it is important to support the people who give us so much joy and entertainment on a daily basis. Do you want a quality development team like Rocksteady to disappear?
Would you rather pay £20-35 with all of the money going to the retailer, or pay a little more for added content and know that creative minds are getting their share for the hours/days/months/years they have spent?
Support the games industry and think about why Online passes and things like the Catwoman content exist.
And stop your whining.