Current-Gen Games. A retro disaster in waiting?

   24/01/2010 at 18:53       Mike Grace       12 COMMENTS.
 - Retro Content, DLC, Downlodable Content, Emulation
Downloadable content is all the rage at the moment, facilitated mainly by the inclusion of hard drives in the Xbox 360 and PS3. A fact that surprisingly enough, doesn't sit particularly well with me for a number of reasons. Many of which have been debated until the cows come home in the past. But my main bug-bear is how this will affect retro gaming in the future.

Fast forward 10 years into the future. What happens when you fancy trip down memory lane and decide to get out your dusty PS3/Xbox 360 (assuming it still works of course) for a rose tinted play through of Dragon Age: Origins. You originally bought all the expansions but after plugging it in find that the servers have long since been turned off denying you access to the content you paid for.

What are your options?

Emulation

In 10 years time a PS3/Xbox 360 emulator might be working perfectly. It may even be able to boot the original game disc. And whilst emulation definitely has its place, I always prefer the original hardware.

Buy a complete edition

In the case of Dragon Age: Origins, Bioware have stated that there will be DLC for 2 years. It is not inconceivable that after those two years they will release a complete edition for PS3/Xbox 360 containing every piece of released content. Case in point, Bethesda has already done this with both Oblivion and Fallout 3. But in Bioware's case, 2 years is a long time in gaming and the developer may well feel that it's simply not worth the effort to release such an item. Sales figures over the coming months will also have a big say on this matter.

The Internet

It is perfectly possible that in 10 years time you will be able to download the complete game, including patches and add ons, write it to a blu-ray/DVD, usb stick or whatever portable storage is available which and play it on whatever device captures the buying public's imagination in the not too distant future. You have to remember that services like Good Old Games which re-package older game to make them run on a modern operating system are currently proving to be very popular.

Do Nothing

Just play the game without the DLC.

Perhaps there is no problem. Maybe DLC will prove itself to be just a fad and games will revert back to the old ways of being single complete products. If consumers vote with their wallets and refuse to buy DLC, then surely that leaves companies with little choice but to reconsider their business models.

But then maybe I should just play my games to death, right here right now and once I'm done throw them away or sell them while they still have some residual value. Maybe I should start looking at games as being much more disposable. But then again, with current RRPs so high, that mind-set is difficult to achieve.

For retro gamers, it is definitely a concern. And we are legion.
User Comments:

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NewYork - on 24/01/2010 at 20:31 wrote:
 
I dunno that it will ever be a problem.

If you dusted off your PS3 10 years from now to play Dragon Age, I assume all the DLC you bought would still be on there, and playable, regardless of any server being up.

If you mean that the DLC might be missing because you had deleted it since then, or are using a different machine, and now you are unable to re-download it, again I doubt it'll be an issue. Depending, of course, on Sony and MS actually surviving (a good bet), you'd assume all the content on their online stores would remain available as permanently as the content on iTunes.
 

DDevil - on 24/01/2010 at 20:32 wrote:
 
I'm more bothered by completely downloadable games, from the smaller like Geometry Wars and Trials HD to the likes of the Steam supported Left 4 Dead games.

Surely one day those services will disappear along with the ability to play the games... But by then will we care all that much?
 

NewYork - on 24/01/2010 at 20:33 wrote:
 
"But by then will we care all that much?"

Not on our hoverboards, we won't.
 

Ace Grace - on 24/01/2010 at 22:42 wrote:
 
@New York - Are all PS1 & PS2 games available on their store?
Will they ever be?

I doubt it although it is less of an issue for previous generations.

The PC is different in that it is an open platform.

@DDevil. The steam stuff also bothers me. I just prefer to have the physical media. Perhaps I am turning into a dinosaur.

Raaaaawwwwwwwrrrr!

 

NewYork - on 24/01/2010 at 22:59 wrote:
 
Yeah, I suppose my point was that DLC that is currently available will likely always be available and thus won't pose a problem to people dusting off old consoles.

That is the problem you are describing, right? That 10 years from now the Dragon Age addon will no longer be available on PSN and XBL?
 

Ace Grace - on 24/01/2010 at 23:09 wrote:
 
Yup. You may not be able to access something later that you bought.
 

NewYork - on 24/01/2010 at 23:16 wrote:
 
Yeah, in that case I don't expect it to be too big an issue.

Much like Amazon's Kindle store remembers every book you've bought so you may re-download at will, save for some disaster like MS or Sony shutting their stores altogether, I imagine your purchases would be future proof. I see no logical reason that anything would be removed from the online stores (there's no shelf space issue, after all).

I suppose there's the possibility of the publisher going under and no longer being able to pay the charges that Sony/MS place on bandwith.
 

peej - on 25/01/2010 at 08:41 wrote:
 
I've always had a love/hate relationship with DLC, particularly when I have a sneaking suspicion that a particular DLC pack has been pared off the original release just to make a fast buck. GOTY editions are great, as is the Rockstar option of offering DLC along with the original game in a roundup package - at least that way there's a vague amount of tangibility in your purchases, so if games companies eventually shut down their services or stores and you disappear into the stygian vortex, you've still got most of your games.

With a couple of notable exceptions I don't think there's that many XBLA or PSN Arcade titles I'd be fussed about losing but it's still your money.

 

Spin Dr Wolf - on 03/02/2010 at 12:45 wrote:
 
I keep the vast majority of it on the HDD, especially if i think i might play it again. So unless i get a HDD failure i should be fine.

Also i'm not sure most current retro gamers will be retro gaming this generation.
I suspect for most it about going back to the gaming roots, where they started gaming. The memories of the games interspersed with that really hot summer, the time that you found some nudy lady pictures in the park behind the bushes, and getting beaten sensless by your little sister mashing the pad on any and every beat em up ever.

Rather than specifically just gaming on something 10 years out of date, of course i could be wrong, but to me retro is just the consoles in the loft. Of course there are some connoissurs just loving the old 8bit days, but i bet you its where they started.
 

NewYork - on 03/02/2010 at 13:15 wrote:
 
Hey, I'm sure the kids of today will have the same nostalgic sentiment towards Uncharted 2 and Gears of War when they grow up :)
 

Spin Dr Wolf - on 17/02/2010 at 15:04 wrote:
 
Heh true, hadn't considered that somewhat daftly !
 

peej - on 23/02/2010 at 10:56 wrote:
 
An interesting wrinkle to the "DLC will be worthless one day" article is the "your game's online abilities will be unceremoniously dropped one day" discussion. Quite a few recent and high profile games have had their servers switched off. Fair enough, the publishers reserve the right to switch off stuff serving games no one gives a fig about but it seems to happen a damned sight sooner than you'd think in some cases. Was quite surprised to hear that Mercenaries 2 on PC now has its matchmaking stuff culled.

With the recent trend to also ensure games DON'T get LAN support, and with many developers opting not to offer server software for their multiplayer titles, it's slightly annoying to know that you have no rights when it comes to companies unceremoniously carving a huge chunk out of a game's content, as advertised on its box.
 


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