Having the weekend off for the most part was great for me and my mental health, as it allowed me to play many more video games than I am used to playing on a weekend during hockey season. One of those was Skyrim, which is so balls-ticklingly amazing that I played both of my copies; one for the PS3 (which is farther along) and one for the PC (which is less broken, by a country mile). My system chugs on Skyrim for the PC, but considering that I can’t lose my werewolf blood on the 360 because I killed a Sabrecat too early and the game won’t let me clear a routine Companions quest, I’ll take what I can get.
What I can’t get, apparently, is some DLC.
We’re less than 24 hours away from unleashing Skyrim’s next add-on Dragonborn on Xbox LIVE. It’s one of our most ambitious add-ons ever and we’re excited for everyone to play it.
We’re also happy to announce Dragonborn will be available on PS3 and PC early next year.
(Emphasis is mine)
I obviously don’t need to go into how much this sucks for users of the other systems. If you’re an XBox gamer, you get the DLC early, and some bragging rights to boot, for those who base their existeneces on playing a video game first1. But if you’re a PC or PS3 user, you’re not only feeling jilted, you’re used to this sort of behaviour, as Activision has had timed exclusivity for their Call of Duty map packs for years now. Of course, the main reason this happens isn’t going away – Microsoft pays buckets of money for timed exclusivity on these DLC packs – but it still sucks for two thirds of the games’ userbase. At least when people pay their mandatory $60 a year for Live Gold, they’re getting something.
At the very least, PC gamers have their own perks – Steam Workshop is amazing – that somewhat make up for the lack of DLC in a timely manner, but PS3 gamers are screwed. Dawnguard and Hearthfire aren’t out yet because of quality control issues, so this is the first DLC that’s actually been confirmed for release for the PS3. While I understand that, and as a gamer wish they would get it right before dumping additions that aren’t ready for prime time, the fact is that I paid the same $60 for both my PS3 and Steam copy of Skyrim that the 360 gamers did, and when the DLC does eventually hit, I’ll be paying the same price for it (on the PC) that the 360 gamers will be paying tomorrow.
Of course, that really is the problem, isn’t it? “I’ll be buying”. No matter what I think of the policy, I’ll still be buying the DLC, as will virtually any other Skyrim fans, so there’s really no incentive for Bethesda to not take Microsoft’s money when it’s there for the taking, with no negative impact other than a few butt-hurt nerds. Anyone who says they will not buy Bethesda’s games going forward is either a liar or a part of a very small minority. Besides, there are larger issues to fight, and Bethesda’s been a great company for gamers, all said, with their release of a single-player exclusive game in the online era that didn’t hide content behind a one-time use pass. The real issue is Microsoft, who have a history of playing dirty when it comes to digital offerings; this is the same company that has stated that they will not publish Live Arcade games that are published first on other platforms. They have the leverage, and they’re going to use it for everything it’s worth.
Ultimately, gamers are still pawns in the larger game of companies who ultimately only care enough about their customers to keep the money pouring in. It’s sad to see a company like Bethesda going this route, but with the next generation on the horizon, this is only the beginning. Until it starts hitting people in the bank account, this trend will continue.
1 – To be fair, judging by comments in the Bethesda blog, most 360 gamers are being outstanding sports about this, either calling for them to fix their other DLC for PS3 release, or saying “it’s about time they get some DLC”. I’ve seen very little postuering over this, at least from anywhere reputable.