It is no mystery that modern AAA game development is an incredibly expensive undertaking. One might assume that while costs have increased significantly, so have sales. The increased sales will help balance out the increased costs. Whether this is true or not, only the publishers have the answer. What we know for sure is that there is an increasing number of games that are supplementing their income with cosmetic DLC.
Star Wars Battlefront did a lot of things wrong but one thing it did right was playing a huge part in putting an end to pay to win microtransactions. It is quite rare to see a game with them these days as most publishers have started cashing in on cosmetic DLC. Content that is entirely up to the player to decide if they want it or not. Content that has no benefit at all to the gameplay and is purely cosmetic.
If you like cosmetic DLC, happy days and if you do not, the answer is simple, don’t buy it! But what happens when you find yourself wanting some of this cosmetic DLC. It seems that the pricing for this content has gotten so extreme that it is hard to ever justify paying for it.
Cosmetic DLC Is Way Too Expensive
Depending on the game, cosmetic DLC can be an attractive purchase to spice things up a bit. Having sunk a large amount of time into Assassins Creed Valhalla, I was tempted, more than once to purchase one of the awesome mounts that you can get to replace your horse. Who wouldn’t like to travel across the English countryside on a large 8ft dire wolf instead of a horse!
Despite wanting the cosmetic items, the price is just too expensive when it is nothing more than a skin. I wouldn’t mind paying two or three euros for a skin that provides me with absolutely nothing of in-game value. The mount won’t run any faster, doesn’t have any magical attacks or any perks, it is purely a skin. Skins are cool to use now and then but they are just for the eyes.
In Game Currency Hides The True Cost
This is the part that is the most annoying. You go to the cosmetic store and the skins cost 500, 1000, or more game bucks. What does 1000 game bucks cost in real money? For Assassins Creed, I quickly closed the store and didn’t bother going back when I saw that it cost 9.99 for 1000 in-game bucks and that was still not enough to buy one of the packs that contain a cool mount.
Since it is not possible to buy the exact amount of currency that you need to purchase the item, it will mean that you end up buying more than you need. To purchase one of the packs that cost 1500, I will have to spend €15. This is absolutely insane for some skins.
At this stage in the game’s life, you could pick up the base game or the DLC during one of the sales for this price. You could easily find several AAA games for under €15. All of this money could be spent on a lot more than a skin.
What About Games as a Service
This is where things start to get a lot different. It is one thing to spend a large amount of money on some cosmetic item for a game that you will play for 10-50 hours on average, with some games like Assassins Creed bringing that above 100 hours. Once the game is finished, that is it, nothing more to keep you playing.
Games like Destiny 2 however, make this a little different. This is a game you will likely play daily for very long periods of time. New raids, dungeons and boss battles to grind toward. Games like this regularly get new expansions and content too which helps keep it fresh. If you spend your money on cosmetic items, you will be able to feast your eyes on them for a very long time. Unfortunately, the prices are still nuts!
Just as we have seen in other games, Destiny has its own in-game currency which is also purchased in rather inconvenient amounts that often mean you need to buy more than you need to purchase one item.
As someone who has put a lot of time into this game as well as more single-player focused games, I have found myself far more tempted to buy the cosmetic DLC in Destiny. In saying that, the prices still just seem far too high. You will get an absolutely massive amount of content if you were to purchase all of the DLC which, before the Witch Queen DLC was released, was on sale for €29.99.
Spending this amount of money on content that gives you 100s of hours of content that you can enjoy is money well spent. Spending a similar amount of money on a few skins for which you can only use one at a time, just isn’t worth it.
Are the Whales Really Buying This
I have seen people who have purchased skins in Destiny 2. The reason I wanted to buy it so bad was having seen some of the cool ships and vehicles that others are riding around on in this game. So they are definitely making some sales with this stuff.
What I don’t understand with DLC like this is why it has to be priced so only the whales will buy it. Is it not better to have 1000 sales instead of 10? At the end of the day, it isn’t like there is a unit cost for a digital skin. Make more people happy making use of the skins and potentially make more money by selling more copies.
Single-player games in particular should make use of this way of thinking. You could argue that if everyone in Destiny 2 was driving around in the wacky ships, it would ruin their exclusivity of them. I don’t personally feel this way but when it comes to a single-player game, it is only you playing and only ever you that will see the skins you have. Why not make them cheaper so more people can enjoy them. The price is not out of reach for me but I just can’t justify buying into the madness that comes with this overpriced cosmetic DLC.