News Article

Talking Point: The Blurred Lines of "Collectables" and On-Disc DLC

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Are Skylanders and Disney Infinity pulling a Capcom, with toys?

Yesterday, before a maelstrom of date reveals and other news, the pricing emerged for Disney Infinity, which put parents and their bank managers on alert. It also instantly raised comparisons with the Skylanders series, now two games old, which despite differences in approach to the actual gameplay — sandbox experimentation against dungeon crawling mechanics — are ultimately following the same business plan. Sell a core game along with starting peripherals, and include a high number of optional extras that expand and improve the experience on offer.

The selling point is simple, combine two of the most fun things in the world — toys and video games. When Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure was unveiled, many kids and big kids alike surely had broad smiles on their faces. They must have, because it rapidly became a runaway success, with stores unable to maintain stock of the most in-demand figures; these toys became a sub-market of their own, with cynical eBay sellers often obtaining them through good fortune and flogging them online with a tasty mark-up. It took the "collect-everything" instinct integral to so many games — whether in the form of achievements or side-missions — and gave it a physical, real dimension. You weren't collecting trinkets that flash up on your screen, but actual cool-looking toys, so fantasies of childhood were fulfilled for gamers of all ages.

Though it didn't need another behemoth, with Call of Duty already on the books, that's exactly what Activision has. It's thrown a bone to keen players by ensuring that figures and portals from the first game are fully compatible with 2012's Skylanders Giants, with figures thankfully functional across the many platforms in use. One of the strengths of the series is actually made simple because of the toys. The basic NFC (near field communication) chips in the toys store data; while limited to basic stats of progress and attribute levelling, it means that you can take your toys to a friend's house, pop them on their portal and jump into the game with your character as you left it on your console at home. It simply adds to the cool factor of the experience.

At the risk of puncturing fantasy a little, however, let's break down the "magic" behind the toys. While it may be easy and reassuring to regard the figurines as clever technology that are doing new things for gaming, it's actually relatively old, basic technology. One example would be travel cards for subway/underground services in cities such as New York or London; you may have a travel card that you update with funds to pay for tickets, you simply swipe over a scanner and the funds are deducted — your stats are updated. NFC tech is cheap enough to be included in cards for all-manner of access (some stadium season tickets use it) and it was inexpensive enough for Nintendo to include in the GamePad on a relative whim, with an Iwata Asks revelation even showing that Nintendo management decided to announce the feature before warning the hardware team.

It's perhaps surprising that it was as late as 2011 before the concept of NFC-enabled toys took hold, though it could be speculated that it may have been avoided due to a fear that consumers would react negatively to the concept of a game becoming an expensive undertaking. In fact, some sentiment of negativity towards the pricing is evident within the Nintendo Life community in reaction to Disney Infinity, with not just figurines but extras such as Play Sets and Power Discs adding to the cost — collecting all of the characters will cost, by our rough calculations, around $175. Even accounting for the potential for the $34.99 Play Set Packs to include a toy and/or Power Discs as extras, though that's not clear, the cost for the whole experience is likely to be well over $200; then there'll be the promised and inevitable future additions to the range.

Yet here's the issue with this, not just in Disney Infinity but also with the Skylanders series — this is on-disc DLC. It's a phrase that's dirty to a lot of gamers — and is contradictory in itself — particularly those with gaming experiences on Xbox 360 and PS3. Capcom bore the brunt of plenty of anger in Spring 2012 when it was revealed that 12 game characters 'exclusive' to the Vita version of Street Fighter X Tekken were discovered on discs of PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game. Capcom had to admit that the characters were locked on the disc and would be sold as DLC, prompting many to ask why they were paying extra money for content already in their hands.

In practice, it was extra content always planned for additional sale; Capcom simply made life convenient by keeping it on the disc and minimising the download requirements. However, while gamers have become more than accustomed to paying extra cash to download extra content — though in some cases wondering why it wasn't in the main game — the news that some of this 'DLC' was really just locked away was aggravating, breaking the distinct boundary between the game content out of the box and online extras. For older gamers that remember pre-DLC gaming it's a simple stance — surely all of the content on the disc should be available as part of the retail price, and DLC should be a separate entity.

The debate about DLC and whether it's stripping value from core games has been debated elsewhere, yet let's be clear — Activision and Disney are following the same practices of on-disc DLC with its toy-based games. The toys don't have detailed character models and animations included on their simple NFC chips, that's all on the disc. The chip in the toy communicates with the reader in the portal, and the basic code is quickly interpreted by the software to retrieve the character data, stage area or power-up from the game disc.

The Portal of Power and its figurines aren't impressive, innovative gadgets that bring magic to a video game. It's cheap, off-the-shelf technology, and gamers are required to spend large amounts of money on these toys to get everything out of their game disc.

If we take a direct view, Activision and Disney are charging hundreds of dollars for gaming content that can fit on three retail discs (if you count both Skylanders entries and the upcoming Disney release). It's here that value is in the eye of the consumer, with the plastic toys and extras that perch on their shiny portals being "collectables". That's all about opinion and perspective, and whether you will indeed keep and treasure the toys in years to come.

The purpose of this article isn't necessarily to admonish perceivably manipulative business practices. In the cold light of day the toy industry — out-with video games — thrives on producing cheap goods for cents and pennies and selling them at a significant mark-up. Toys and these Skylanders collectibles can bring great joy and satisfaction to children and indeed adults, as equivalents have for multiple generations over many decades. They may be cheap plastic goods, but their value to the owners is obviously greater.

All Activision and Disney are doing is playing into the sentimentality that toys bring, which do and will continue to delight consumers. It's important, however, to see it for what it is. The Portal of Power and its figurines aren't impressive, innovative gadgets that bring magic to a video game. It's cheap, off-the-shelf technology, and gamers are required to spend large amounts of money on these toys to get everything out of their game disc.

Capcom got taken to the cleaners for relatively modest on-disc DLC. Are toys all it takes to make it all OK?

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User Comments (70)

yobucky

#1

yobucky said:

Yeah good article! This is exactly right, but activision have tapped into the fact that parents with kids have a lot more money to throw at wasteful items than your average gamer who is trying to eek every bit of game out of his (or her) pennies. And because the cost of a figure is pretty comparable to other collectable figurines it's conned parents into treating that as value rather than seeing it for what it is.
However I'm also glad they have a disney version coming out, my kids love all things pixar and no doubt I'll be suckered into buying them but the kids will love it and I'll get that "good parent" glow and not think too hard about what a rip off it actually is... So back to the first point... kids are a really good market to aim for.

edcomics

#2

edcomics said:

I just had a similar discussion about this. It's basically the same thing. In some cases, the "DLC" is really just unlocking content that's already on the disc. That's exactly how Skylanders works. You buy a Battle Pack, but the data is actually on the original game disc. Does that make it wrong? Unethical? Not really. It's just just companies trying to make more money. The thing with Skylanders is that you DO get a figure to display when you're not playing the game. If you're fortunate enough to find a well-painted one, you've got a nice little item. With straight-up DLC or whatever, you get nothing extra. It's up to the individual as to whether it's worth it or not. The ridiculous thing, though, is the idea that you buy a game at full retail price, and it's essentially an incomplete game. I find that insulting. So I guess it's all insulting ;) If you're into toy collecting, Skylanders at least gives you something extra, but in general... DLC means your original game purchase is a ripoff.

Bass_X0

#3

Bass_X0 said:

I was thinking this a while ago and couldn't understand why Capcom was given a hard time and yet this was somehow acceptable. I have bought Street Fighter and other videogame figurines in the past because I liked the characters. But to HAVE to buy them just to be able to play the game? Thats not something I could do, yet I am okay with paying 1600 MS points for 12 characters in Street Fighter X Tekken.

The ridiculous thing, though, is the idea that you buy a game at full retail price, and it's essentially an incomplete game.

So lets say you had Street Fighter X Tekken (don't know if you do or not). If those 12 DLC characters were not on the disc nor sold as DLC, you would feel like the retail game was complete and worth the money? But if they give you 12 DLC characters for $20 or whatever it was, you would feel the retail release was incomplete and not worth the money?

Only an impatient fool would pay full retail price for a game with DLC that they wanted but didn't agree to. Why pay $80 for all the characters when you can wait a while and let the game drop from $60 to $40 allowing you to buy the $20 DLC without going over the original retail cost?

SteveW

#4

SteveW said:

it's still worth it, yes it's on disc already but no game comes with 40 playable characters, 40 bonus levels (challenge levels) for the normal price of a game. If toys were not a part of this game you would only have a few characters if that. I'd rather have it this way than to expect every character I buy to have to download a game update.

DarkCoolEdge

#6

DarkCoolEdge said:

Great article.

These games are a rip-off taking advantage of children and on-disc dlc is hideous.

PinkSpider

#7

PinkSpider said:

I don't care me and my boy have had tons of hours of fun playing skylanders and trying to get a complete set is half the fun.
And your not forced to buy them you only have to have 8 to complete a game 100% they just have lots of choices of characters coz everyone has different tastes.
I don't care how much it costs,it's no different than spending tons of money on loads of lego sets or the new toy ranges that get released.
Hell, my mum spent a fortune on star wars toys after the films were released to nearly have a complete set for me when i was a kid and no one moaned about that.
So don't really see the big problem.

Bass_X0

#8

Bass_X0 said:

@PinkSpider - And I had fun playing with the DLC that Capcom put on their discs. The question is why are Capcom criticised but not Skylanders?

ultraraichu

#9

ultraraichu said:

It's funny that an hour ago I was looking at my bank statements to find out how much I spend on skylander figures (short answer 8 figures, $91.52)and then I find this little piece. What a coincidence.

Even though the toy part can get pricey and the contents are on-disc, I'm still amazed how technology and games have advance since I was a kid (debatable based on interest), a real world toy coming to life in a game with it own power and personally that you can control. It makes it so rewarding especially when you own a hard to find figurine. I remember collecting Pokemon toys that cost almost the same as these and they don't even connect NFC. If they did, may god have mercy on my soul.

As for paying for on disc contents I think of it as almost the same as paid download from a cynical standpoint. They could of create a set amount before the game release and then release it online piece by piece to make it look as it was made after release.

Edge_Diest

#10

Edge_Diest said:

The main question isn't if it's ethical or fair, but how you sell this extra-data. Some games have their (paid) DLCs announced BEFORE their release, and that's bizarre: you're buying a game and you know it's incomplete. However, if they release a game and after some weeks release the DLC, I wouldn't say that it's out of sheer greed. It's just to make the game last longer.

@Bass_X0 Well, yeah, there's a small difference: Skylanders' toys aren't simply characters which are blocked in the game, but they are also memory cards which save your data and make it playable in another one's game. For me, this goes beyond simply locking the character. It's not like I can use him/her in my friend's house if he/she hasn't bought it, right?

LittleKing

#11

LittleKing said:

The prices are ludicrous when you think about the actual game content you're getting. $75 for the starter pack plus $65 total for every pack of three characters with a corresponding stage. Want one stage with three corresponding characters with your game? That will be $140. Throw in another stage with three characters and you've got $205!

Why pay $65 for three characters and a level when I can buy two full games for that price? However, each figure does come with a toy. It's not just that the DLC part is so expensive--it's that you're forced to buy a relatively expensive toy to go with every piece of DLC if you want to unlock game content. As a result, if you just want the game content, it's a rip off. Thus, most people here will detest it since they don't want the toys that much. However, if you really like the toys, then the price isn't actually that bad. If you look at it as a $10 figure with probably $2-3 dollars of DLC thrown in, it gets to be more attractive. $8 toy, $2 DLC.

What it is, is a way to bundle stuff together and sell it for huge profits. Some kids just want the toys but it comes with DLC, so they pay more for the figures and will probably end up buying the game to utilize the data already on the figures they bought. Some kids just want the DLC that comes with the toys, but there's no other way to get it. Plus, parents are naturally suckers. It's hard to resist purchasing stuff for kids and they practically justify it for you. "I don't know, that seems like a lot of money," says the wary parent, to which the kid replies, "Well, yeah, but it's not just a toy--it unlocks a whole new character in that game you bought me!" Instant. Purchase.

You might as well hire the kids to steal their parents' credit card information and email it to lolwegotyourmoney@disneyinfinity.com. It's not like it's that much more devious than LEGO sets that cost hundreds of dollars, though. I mean, $529.99 for a LEGO Death Star? o_o


As for On-Disc DLC, many of the problems people have with it are contrived. A great deal of DLC for many games is developed at the same time as the game. How is it more of a rip off if they put it on the disk than force you to download and install large files? Why does it matter if it is on the disc? They have already developed the content. They're taking your money either way; it makes no difference to you whether or not it's "already" on the disc. The "ripping you off" part of the equation came in when they decided to not include it for free on the disc, which usually occurred long before the game was released. Whether they chose to lock it on the disc or put it on some server for you to download instead makes no difference. If they couldn't have On-Disc DLC, what would happen--assuming DLC was still massively profitable? It would become Off-Disc DLC. Congratulations. "It's on the Gold Master so we should get if for free." Solution, developers? Don't stick it on the Gold Master and go back to sticking it on a server somewhere. Apparently, you can rip the customers off all you want then.

We're making great leaps for mankind today, aren't we? If you dislike On-Disc DLC so much, do not buy games that have it. Problem solved. If it's so big a problem and so many people hate it, it will have a big enough impact on their wallets to make them reconsider their stance.

@Edge_Diest What's the difference, in regards to DLC? So, if I develop DLC during the debug phase, don't tell anyone, then release it two weeks after the game is done I'm a wonderful guy trying to lengthen your experience. If I develop the same DLC at the same time, announce it to the public and then make it available on release day, I'm a greedy arse? I know you didn't explicitly say that. However, saying that you wouldn't call one greedy sort of implies that the other one is greedy, since you didn't apply it to the whole.

Varia01

#12

Varia01 said:

I however sorta don't like the toy concept. It is a little complex (Sure it's cool). If that is the strategy then I guess that's fine. I am looking most forward to playing Ralph (Y'know from Wreck-It-Ralph) . I was expecting classical disney characters (In my opinion they are ehh 85-95% lame) like Mickey or the disney princesses. Gladly, I was wrong.

The character roster seems pretty neat. It's a surprise to see Captain Jack, I need to watch more Pirates of the Carribean movies. I didn't see any Tron characters which decreases my interest for the character roster, but yet there is still plenty of cool characters.

I maybe actually looking forward to this game. I may expect to see Star Wars soon since Lucasarts sold it to Disney. That would also be neat! It is cool that you get to explore many Disney worlds and all. I wonder how the developers would take advantage of gamepad usage.

ueI

#13

ueI said:

@Metabble_King "Some kids just want the toys but it comes with DLC, so they pay more for the figures and will probably end up buying the game to utilize the data already on the figures they bought." I've come to the conclusion that this is what Skylanders is all about.

I think Disney is taking things a little too far with the play sets. Like the article acknowledges, part of the appeal of toys is collecting everything. The play sets I'm familiar with are large and expensive, however. There's no way my parents would have bought me all of them as a kid.

I don't think on-disc DLC is intrinsically bad; my reaction depends on how the DLC is done. The problem is that on-disc DLC is almost always done badly.

Drawdler

#14

Drawdler said:

The Portal of Power and its figurines aren't impressive, innovative gadgets that bring magic to a video game. It's cheap, off-the-shelf technology, and gamers are required to spend large amounts of money on these toys to get everything out of their game disc.

Yes, and this is a plain truth. Do you know something that really sickened me about Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure? The fact that people made it out like these toys and figures were innovative. In reality- step back. No, they were not. They're just a fancy way to switch characters rather than using a menu. To top things off, UB Funkeys did essentially the same thing YEARS AGO.
Now- don't get me wrong, I actually enjoy Skylanders. For godsakes, I own Jin Saotome's Tech Portal and Sprocket customs. And I love them both. But to say the franchise did anything special, actual-game-wise or that the toys themselves are a droolingly amazing and propelling step of an idea? Nah.

In the end, the question is which game you enjoy most. The shelf of plastic, or just good old discs and cartridges? Me, I enjoy both, so I get both. But as pretty as the shelf of plastic is, I just can't keep filling it up at this rate. I hope we don't see every company and their mascot doing this in the future, because that will just deter people from what could otherwise be great games waiting(myself included).

Mikau94

#15

Mikau94 said:

Yes, the fact that you can't access areas of the game without buying something to access them is on-disc DLC. Although, it is nice to have tangible DLC that you can share.

Stuffgamer1

#16

Stuffgamer1 said:

This occurred to me a year ago when I was considering getting into Skylanders (which I did and enjoyed for a time but now sort of regret). I decided that the content coming with physical toys made it at least less of a rip-off than regular on-disc DLC. Plus, if you like collecting things, that aspect can be fun...can also be stressful if the supply is too small.

I think this whole thing is hurt by the lack of general understanding of how DLC is made. It's actually far less common to make the DLC before the main game is done than people think...the planning stage may have started, but even day-one DLC has a month or two to be programmed after the disc has gone gold. That has become the prevalent development model following lashback over the methods used some years ago, which people erroneously believe are still in use today. Capcom refuses to pull their collective heads from butts, but they are an unusual case.

It's also worth noting that while Skylanders has suffered from a lack of online support (the first game contains bugs they never even attempted to patch), Disney Infinity looks to fix that design flaw. If they make good on their promise to support the game for years, actual honest-to-goodness DLC will HAVE to get involved sooner or later...doubtless leaving the ill-advised Wii version in the dust. Plus, it's already been announced to have online multiplayer...a step up from Skylanders in its own right. So at current, I'm cautiously optimistic about Disney Infinity.

pntjr

#17

pntjr said:

I love how everyones writing essays.... I'm just gonna say that I agree. There.

belmont

#18

belmont said:

DS has a lot of games with locked in card DLC.
Solatorobo, all Layton games, Inazuma Eleven and more.
They are free to download but why lock them in the first place?

Sir_Deadly

#19

Sir_Deadly said:

Ok, I see some of you saying "why is Capcom criticized but not Skylanders?", well this is how I see it. Now correct me if I am but arent these games two different genres? I mean Capcom's game is simply just a fighting game and i dont see how putting 12 more characters in the game will extend the life of the game because all your doing is fighting on a single level. With Skylanders and Disney, your actually opening new levels and worlds to explore. Something new besides just unlocking characters. I feel like capcom screwed over there fans on this one. But i think the purpose of put the DLC on the disc to to not take up space on your hard drive.

TheDreamingHawk

#21

TheDreamingHawk said:

On disc DLC isn't really bad. I NEVER felt that anything was wrong with it, as it just was something extra that wasn't required to beat the game.

But this on the other hand is insane. No game should cost over 200 dollars to 100%.

LittleKing

#22

LittleKing said:

@uel "I don't think on-disc DLC is intrinsically bad; my reaction depends on how the DLC is done. The problem is that on-disc DLC is almost always done badly."

Agreed. The problem I have is that people often complain about the method itself. I have no problem with good DLC. Of course, by good I generally mean content that wouldn't be considered an essential part of the game.

Bankai

#23

Bankai said:

Everyone is looking at this wrong. Who cares about the game - those there are some of the cheapest Disney collectibles money can buy.

theblackdragonAdmin

#25

theblackdragon said:

if these are "some of the cheapest Disney collectibles", then the next problem is going to be availability. you're not going to be able to find these in stores, they're all going to be sold out.

Stuffgamer1

#26

Stuffgamer1 said:

@Assassin87: Actually, Capcom themselves have admitted it's largely a compatibility issue, regarding people with DLC playing against people without online. On PlayStation, this is commonly handled by including content in title updates and using unlock keys for the purchase...this includes content developed long after the base game. Microsoft, on the other hand, is known to CHARGE developers for the right to release title updates, plus they want them to be small and unobtrusive. So the only alternative on XBL would be "compatibility" free DLC...which has happened on rare occasion, but tends to confuse and anger customers.

The main problem with Capcom's rhetoric is coming at things from the angle that the content NEEDS to be DLC in the first place, and they have the audacity to try to spin it as a convenience to their customers. Many of us aren't stupid enough to fall for that line, which is why they get so much flak for it nowadays.

Skylanders and Disney Infinity take a completely different approach by not even trying to justify it as on-disc DLC, even if that's what it basically amounts to. As a game marketed to kids, they're trying to create a mental link between physical toys and game content that makes you forget where the data actually is, or at least makes you not care because you like collecting them. I honestly doubt this market will be over-saturated with lots of competing IP's because it's hard to take on the existing juggernaut in such a cash-sink market. Only Disney would have the confidence to try...and the market clout to succeed.

@Nibelilt: Unless you count Accolades in "completion." :P

Bankai

#28

Bankai said:

@Stuffgamer1 there does need to be DLC in modern games.

I do take it that even the people most disappointed with Capcom right now don't want the company to actually go bankrupt, correct? You won't get many Mega Man or Street Fighter games at all if that happens.

So deal with DLC. It's karma for years of games being too cheap, costing too much to make and being hamstrung by people preferring to give the middle man all their money (second hand sales) than throwing a bone to the producers of the content. The only way to turn reasonable margin on these games now is via DLC.

MAB

#30

MAB said:

I'm surprised EA hasn't jumped on the bandwagon with the sports card phenomenon mixed with their 'same disc as last year' strategy ;)

Stuffgamer1

#31

Stuffgamer1 said:

@Bankai: I didn't say there didn't need to be DLC, I said that the content they had already finished and put on the disc didn't need to be DLC. They've gotten so much backlash for that decision, it's easily arguable that they would have made MORE money from the game by including it in the title, as more people would have bought it. Then there's the good will consideration...you can't run your business indefinitely by pissing off your customers. Keep it up and they WILL stop buying...some faster than others, to be sure, but the sales will dwindle.

AugustusOxy

#32

AugustusOxy said:

I'd rather have a physical object taking up space in my house than pay money for digital keys to unlock crap.

Bankai

#33

Bankai said:

@Stuffgamer1 I never said that on-disc DLC is necessarily a good idea, but I do find that a lot of people that complain about it are the ones that don't tend to understand that if a company isn't profitable they don't get any more games.

It's about the value proposition, anyway. Capcom's on-disc DLC annoys people because it's digital and contains little measurable value. They finish the game the investment in DLC is no longer worth anything.

This Disney game is entirely different. There's real collectible value in those toys so that even when the player is done with the game, he/ she has enduring value from the toys.

So yeah, apples to oranges really.

rjejr

#34

rjejr said:

i don't see the connection between digital keys to unlock digital info on a disc and buying a toy that works with a video game.

Here's my problem with video games being rip-offs. I buy a game with a hard part, and I can't get past it, so I can't play all the game that's on the disc I paid for, even though it's on the disc and I paid for it I still can't play it. Now THATS a ripoff. Everybody criticized Nintendo for it's "helper" in NSMB and DKCR, but you know what, when a level got hard I got to skip it and play the rest of the game that I paid for.

If you don't want to pay extra for DLC - don't buy it. If you don't want to buy kids toys, don't buy them. For years I've been paying for video games that I couldn't play all the content on the disc because I got stuck and couldn't continue, thats how video games are a ripoff.

rayword45

#38

rayword45 said:

To answer the question, no they aren't pulling a Capcom. This is FAR WORSE then anything Capcom has ever done.

I have to pay an extra $8 for all Mega Man 9 content? Pretty bad, but I can live without most of those extras.
I have to pay $20 for 12 characters on disc? While it's a sneaky, dirty tactic, I don't need 12 characters.

This hunk of crap? I pay 75 dollars for 3 LEVELS. Whole game? $200+

That is utterly ridiculous. Don't compare this to pure collectibles completely, because honestly, those don't lock away content from a game like this. I'm pretty sure a bunch of kids who played Skylanders could care less about some action figures.

DerpSandwich

#40

DerpSandwich said:

I think it's a little different because while you're paying to get new characters, you're also paying to have a neat figurine. I feel like you'd still have to be bonkers to fall for the whole thing, but for the most part that's my feeling. People pay for physical toys all the time.

pepsilover2008

#41

pepsilover2008 said:

i don't personally have one, but from what i've seen the kids who play it also use them as toys so for 8 dollars you get the chracter and you can play with it as well. So tbh its more like collecting hot wheels for some kids.

rayword45

#43

rayword45 said:

@Bankai I had no intention of buying the game either way. Nor did I intend to buy any of the "On-disc DLC" games.

I'm responding to the tagline. If people complain about Capcom's DLC, one would expect them to start some sort of riot over this pricing. This is like the worst freemium crap on iOS (thinking games where you have to pay $1 a level) times 12.

MAB

#44

MAB said:

Waltzy has the entire set... I could imagine he would dust and polish them everyday then take em to bed with him of a night ;)

Coldheat

#45

Coldheat said:

I don't own either skylanders game, and I don't plan on buying infinity. That being said, companies have been doing this for years. Consumers are willing to pay for these items because they are tangible, physical items. Bubblegum in the pack of baseball cards. Toy in the box of cereal. Toy inside a kinder surprise chocolate. Take a character someone might be willing to pay $1 to unlock from their already purchased retail game disc, add a plastic figurine that "Interacts" with the game, and "Boom", people are willing to pay $9-$12 for this.

Bankai

#46

Bankai said:

@rayword45 Except it comes with cheap Disney collectibles.

It is amazing me that people are somehow missing the point here. It's like they're pulling the usual gamer crap and assuming every game HAS to be developed for their personal tastes, and completely misunderstanding the appeal of this game: it's for decicated Disney fans, the kind that have collections of Disney products, and for children that love Disney, and it's actually cheap compared to most Disney collectibles, meaning it is a good thing for parents and collectors alike.

Actually I guess I'm not surprised. But yeah, you dont like it, good for you. Don't go pretending there is a problem with this businss model when the only problem is you don't like it.

rayword45

#47

rayword45 said:

@Bankai Dedicated Disney fans? I think you're selling yourself short when it comes to target audience.

There are quite a few dedicated Disney collectors, but obviously not all are gamers, so for a company as large as Disney that is a NICHE market.

Who is this really targeting? The Skylanders crowd with a bit of change to the concept. How many kids do you think actually cared about the Skylanders action figures? All the ones I know just played the game.

Bankai

#48

Bankai said:

@rayword45 these toys will sell to people that don't own a single console. Guaranteed.

It is quite clear that these are toys first... Oh and there's a game-thing they can play. Nothing about the marketing of the game suggests anything but that.

Drawdler

#49

Drawdler said:

@theblackdragon You should have seen what a hell it was to find Warnado, Camo and Wham-Shell once they came out. They have barely been restocked since then.
@Stuffgamer1 True that, but at that point you may as well give up unless you're dedicated. :P However, the game load screen will say 100% when you get three stars on every unlocked level. Of course, you can always scan figures in then return them...
@TheDreamingHawk I've done it, and I own EVERY VARIANT OF EVERY FIGURE TO DATE. Yeeeeah moment. Well, except the variants that aren't actually different and are just repainted figures, which are just too rare to find and too expensive to buy. So it's possible. I just chill out in Battle Mode from time to time now. Skylanders Universe is more insane. That goes to Level 50 per figure and it's basically smashing crates and a few minigames...
However, the FIGURES THEMSELVES are meant to be the replay value. Outside of leveling up, upgrading and doing Quests and Heroics there isn't much replay value besides Battle Mode or the different difficulties. That's one problem I have with the Skylanders series... Infinity looks better to me because it looks like the playsets will actually represent full games more whereas everything with Skylanders is half a game you're meant to fill by buying new toys. Either way, it's always been that way with Skylanders, and I've been watching the scene and I don't understand why people are only discussing that now. The main game will probably last for five to seven hours before you beat it, and take about twelve to fourteen to 100%. If that main game content doesn't satisfy you for the price then Skylanders isn't worth it, because the only content left is on the figures.

StarDust4Ever

#50

StarDust4Ever said:

Another thing to consider, these toys can be sold on the secondhand market... DLC can't.

Also, similar tech has existed in the form of PC software. Rather than rely on complicated anti-piracy software to prevent copying, a lot of companies provide a hardware dongle that connects via USB or parallel port. You plug in the dongle to access certain features. We had to use these in one of my lab classes in school. There were a dozen computers, two dongles, one of which was connected to a fab station and the other dongle we passed around in class whenever we needed to save our projects.

I'm sure people will pay top dollar in the future for a complete collection of these figures. Think how much a working ROB the Robot costs.

Drawdler

#51

Drawdler said:

@StarDust Actually, GameStop DID sell the figures second hand. But apparently Activision stopped them! I haven't seen any fresh preowned figures in my EB Games for a while, come to think of it...

Zombie_Barioth

#52

Zombie_Barioth said:

@StarDust raises a good point, unlike regular dlc you could loose access to in the future you can always track these down. @Nibelilt I think StarDust means like on Amazon or ebay.

I'll never understand the need to hate on things you don't like. Don't like it, well cool don't buy it and let those that do have their fun, no need to go around pissing in everyone's cheerios. If Disney is putting the resources into this then obviously they know theres a market for it.

I'm a sucker for figurines so its probably a good thing I'm not into either of these, something that combines miniature figurines and my favorite pass-time can't be good for my wallet.:(

LavaTwilight

#53

LavaTwilight said:

Actually, this really is a good article and I don't just splash that around. I'm actually appalled by what I've read here, and thanks for clarifying what 'on-disc' DLC is because I've only just heard of it (like in the past few weeks)!

When consumers buy a product, in our case a lovely video game, we should buy it AS-IS. In other words, we've bought the disc and what's on the disc should be ours. The point of additional and/or downloadable content is for companies to continue making money from the games by providing what they couldn't on the disc, either due to space-issues or simply deadlines. Either way is good and it's up to the companies whether to charge us or not. But to have all the info there and then get charged for it? That's like buying a DVD of a film and then the movie cuts out just before the dramatic finale or twist reveal and then expecting us to get our wallets out to pay for the ending. It's legalised crime!

As for the figurines, I'm in two minds. If the info is already on the disc then again I think it should be available to us. Any additional content to the game should be upon the figurines to translate to us, which will undoubtedly happen with future figurine releases. As a result, why couldn't they do that now? It's all down to the money! As you rightly said, how much it's worth is simply down to the consumer, even though the price is set by the sellers, it's just our choice to pay it or not. The figurines makes it at least more of a collectors issue rather than a 'consumer' issue, so it's an individual's choice. At least the money exchanging hands is also providing something pretty to look at too.

Bankai

#54

Bankai said:

@LavaTwilight you can thank gamers for on disc DLC, actually. If people would stop insisting games should cost $10, and would stop buying second hand, publishers would make enough money that they wouldn't need such aggressive DLC policies.

The reason for DLC has nothing to do with development time or disc space, even when it isn't on-disc DLC. It's simply because there are so many entitled consumers that the publishers need to protect themselves and the thousands of people that work from the cheapskates.

Schprocket

#55

Schprocket said:

The Capcom example has been used in engineering software for years except it works like this; you get a disk, you pay for a licence to access certain options and that's it. Want more? Upgrade the licence, unlock what's already been installed onto your hard-drive.

A number of PSN-distributed games were similar in that the demo was the full-game but you were locked out until the licence string was downloaded and applied, meaning that there was only a file of around 15k (IIRC) required to download instead of having to redownload the entire game.

Pretty sure that the various 'tiers' of Windows 8 are the same (within the boundaries of the respective 32-bit or 64-bit installation)

My point is that it's nothing really new, I just think that, Capcom example aside for the moment, it's just not really been noticed before.

Stuffgamer1

#56

Stuffgamer1 said:

@Bankai: I'm perfectly well aware that developers need to make money in order to keep making games. I, for one, do not buy used if I can help it, for example. But I do maintain my stance that how the DLC is implemented matters a LOT, and companies that do it in a consumer-friendly manner will ultimately fare better than those which do not.

If there's real value to be had on old figures, I'd love to find someone willing to pay well for my Skylanders collection...all 37 game-recognized unique characters, the Adventure packs...EVERYTHING from Spyro's Adventure. Supposed value is meaningless if you can't get a buyer.

Bankai

#57

Bankai said:

@Stuffgamer1 value also isn't necessarily a monetary number. It's what it's worth to the person buying it. The basic rule of capitalism is that companies try to figure out the maximum amount that the product they are offering is worth to the maximum number of potential customers.

I do suspect that Disney is better at this basic principle of capitalism than any other company out there, so to be perfectly frank if Disney says this price is a price the market is willing to bear, I am more inclined to believe Disney than someone outside of Disney.

If you want the perfect comparison to what these collectibles model themselves after, don't point to Capcom, look at baseball and basketball cards.

Incidentally now that NFC is a thing in gaming expect to see soccer cards for FIFA, Moogle cards for Final Fantasy and gun cards in Call of Duty. It's the new DLC.

ueI

#58

ueI said:

@belmont Good to know that I'm not the only one with this view.
@Metabble_King I'm not surprised when people complain about on-disc DLC since the examples cited are always horrible. If you ask me, on-disc DLC is about as easy to pull off as communism.

Stuffgamer1

#59

Stuffgamer1 said:

@Bankai: Well, that's the problem with relative value, isn't it? My Skylanders were worth more to me a year ago than they are now. As a result, Activision lost me as a customer for the sequel. Though actually, I can cite specific reasons I lost interest: Unpatched bugs and consumer gouging. No, I'm not complaining about the cost per figure...it's the "series 2" release of 3/4 of the original crew that pisses me off. You could argue I could skip them...but I'm way too obsessive for that. Disney would do well not to design their game with that same flaw...but we don't yet know enough about it to be sure if that might become an issue. We don't even know if Disney Infinity figures will save data at all, or what data there would be to save.

madgear

#60

madgear said:

The Street Fighter X Tekken thing especially angered me because, well, I'm clearly a Final Fight fan. One such advertisement for the game, which featured Poison and Hugo in a wrestling match with Tekken character showed Cody and Guy entering as "new challengers" at the end. It was an extremely cool trailer and got excited for the game.

I eventually found out that Cody and Guy had to be purchased to unlock them in the game. I was outraged by this and decided to not buy the title at all. They were advertising the characters with no mention of them being downloadable extras until much later. So, if I wanted it, I would have had to buy the game and then pay extra on top of that to play the characters I wanted to play. This isn't unlockable content, it's holding content to ransom.

AmishThunder

#61

AmishThunder said:

"Capcom got taken to the cleaners for relatively modest on-disc DLC. Are toys all it takes to make it all OK?"

Yes

Bass_X0

#62

Bass_X0 said:

Cody saying "Looks like we missed the fun. Ain't that a shame." was enough to cause doubt among fans that they would be in the game. M. Haggar was also in the trailer yet you're not complaining that you can't play as him? Guy and Cody got just as much screen time as he did in the trailer.

Anyway, you would rather DLC not to be included so nobody can play as those 12 characters in SFxTekken. 12 characters would be sold as DLC or not at all. They were always going to be sold as DLC since they wouldn't be making a "Super" version. It may be unfortunate that two of your favorite characters are DLC but whoever was chosen they would have been someones favorite characters.

I'm sure you brought Super SFIV. They could have put Guy and Cody in regular SFIV but they didn't. There's not much of a difference here. You purposely missed out on playing as new characters Hugo, Rolento and Poison just because you can't play as characters you already have in SSFIV? The game is pretty cheap now so whats stopping you now?

Amish Thunder #61: Its $20 or whatever to download the 12 characters or $1.66 each. Making a figurine of each figure would bump the cost up to like $10 per character. Even if you don't care about the figurine. And you say thats a good thing? Plus you would have to pay for the base that reads the figurine data which is $20 or whatever, I don't know.

KAHN

#63

KAHN said:

Q.) "It's cheap, off-the-shelf technology, and gamers are required to spend large amounts of money on these toys to get everything out of their game disc."

A.) Agreed. i haven't bought either Skylanders games, and i don't plan on buying Infinity, because i don't plan on spending $40 dollars just to slightly enhance my experience of a game that i paid $70 dollars on.

Q.) "Capcom got taken to the cleaners for relatively modest on-disc DLC. Are toys all it takes to make it all OK?"

A.) whether i will or won't put up with this, other people will. but, i think that people will eventually get tired of paying large sums of money for dolls to enhance their gaming experiences. they'll eventually realize, "am i really willing to pay this much for a video game?" and that's why i refuse to buy those games. i'm not willing to pay that much money on a virtual experience.

madgear

#64

madgear said:

@Bass_X0 Yes I bought Super Street Fighter 4 but I didn't buy Street Fighter 4. My choice there was either Street Fighter 4 or Super Street Fighter 4 at the same price. Both are £20 and I opted for Super Street Fighter 4 instead because of the extra characters (Cody and Guy etc).

However If I wanted the extra characters for Street Fighter X Tekken it's the same £20 and then extra on top of that for the characters (£16) making it £36. Super Street Fighter 4 still just cost me £20.

I'm not buying it out of principle now - I don't care how cheap it gets. I don't really feel like I'm missing out on playing as Hugo and Poison as I'd still just be bitter I'm buying a game that's trying to rip me off. I don't care enough to buy it.

As for the trailer, I didn't assume Haggar was in it because he's seen for a split second. Cody and Guy kick through a "new challenger" sign. I mean if your characters aren't in the game then why give them a speaking part and an epic entrance? Obviously you were right there but it fooled me and I just don't care to buy it. I wanted to buy Cody, Guy, Poison, Hugo etc in a fighter - not half of those and pay extra on top. That's what was advertised to me and when I saw the package didn't deliver I decided not to buy it. Are you trying to convince me I should want something I don't?

arrmixer

#65

arrmixer said:

I'm probably not going to buy the game but I deflinitely want a Nightmare before Christmas toy

mantez

#66

mantez said:

At least you can sell this "DLC" when you are finished with it of if you don't like it.

Godzealous

#67

Godzealous said:

I pay for the creativity, intelligence, and time that so many talented people put their hearts and minds into that in the end brings a joyful diversion from the real world. If you think about buying code that is downloaded or imprinted on a plastic disk as the commodity that your paying for then its all a big rip-off.
I actually wish they would make a new Godzilla game that would have figurines to unlock the characters. I have a lot Godzilla collectibles that only collect dust. Think about how many toys you have owned in the past that you dreamed you could interact with inside their own environments but you only dragged across the living-room carpet. Video games will always come and go, toys will get lost or broken, but the memories and fondness of enjoying them will grow greater with age.

Zombie_Barioth

#68

Zombie_Barioth said:

@madgear Thats exactly what needs to change about dlc, the bit with Guy and Cody might not be common but the all or nothing model is. Paying $60 plus $5 for the character you want is one thing, but $20 on top of a $60 game for those same characters is another.

Squid

#69

Squid said:

No, it's completely different. What Capcom did was almost practically a scam. At least here with Disney you know what you're getting for what you're paying.

Dodger

#70

Dodger said:

@Bankai I might agree with you if the games that people expect to be $10 were the ones using DLC. Ignoring Steam Christmas sales, most of the games that really milk DLC are the ones that are on shelves for $50 to $60 a year later because they are big names. Assassin's Creed, Rock Band, Etc.

There are some games DLC is great for. The Hearthfire pack for Skyrim, new civilizations in Civ V, new songs in Rock Band/Dance Central, heck, even fighters for fighting games as long as they are new. I'm fine with paying for new content later on in the life cycle of the system. There is a point though where they should ditch DLC and make a full blown expansion pack.

Firaxis, for example, has always been good with this. They make at least one expansion pack for about every Civ game but they always add several major game mechanics, a bunch of new Civs, units and buildings, a lot of game balances, Etc. Civ V actually has DLC, but they still released an expansion pack. If more developers did DLC like Firaxis instead of Capcom, there wouldn't be a problem.

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