Blog: On Console Avatar Items as DLC

Few games generate a lot hype or buzz when it’s about to be released, and Mass Effect 3 is one of them. Many of the promotions seem practical, and then there are those that are over the top. I ran into this one today with Microsoft and BioWare promoting XBox live avatar items. These vary from clothing to pets, all priced between $1 to $3 (80 to 240 Microsoft Points); and some items are split off to increase profits. This leads me to think that this is the new DLC gimmick. That’s going to sell even if one doesn’t consider it relevant or particle to the gaming experience.

I’m as much of a fan for customizing my avatar as the next person, but this stuff would’ve been considered unlockable content a few years ago like it was for Splosion Man or Halo 3 ODST. The cost may seem small, but we’re talking about something that’ll compound quickly, and marketers have figured this out. This kind of gimmick is painful for me to see because they’re obviously making money off of it; otherwise, it wouldn’t still be around. I don’t have a problem with real-life items like a t-shirts or hoodies because they serve a practical purpose. However, it just feels obscene to pay any kind of price for accessories for a digital avatar that does nothing for me.

I’m in the same situation as many others in the world: we don’t have a lot of disposable income to pay for every little thing these companies promote. This just seems menacing to me because we’re being nickled and dimed at every turn. I know that I don’t have to buy it, but when are we going to start getting these items or in-game content DLC for the time we put into these games? If time is money, then I’m losing a shit ton by jumping through hoops for achievements when there’s no appreciable benefit for me or anyone else. Now, if I could convert my gamer score into Microsoft Points and then purchase this content or DLC, it would feel somewhat more practical. Unfortunately, I feel like the developers, console manufacturers, and publishers that release this kind of content are taking advantage of gamers.

This viewpoint may seem old-school, but what do you think? Is it reasonable for game companies to do this, or should we start to say something about it?

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About Brandon Mietzner