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I’m excited about the SyFy show Defiance, coming in April. And I’m excited about the Trion game of the same name. I can’t talk a lot about why due to an NDA but I have been in a beta weekend and I’ll leave it at that. I have the game pre-ordered.

But today came news that is giving me second thoughts.

Defiance is an MMO shooter. It costs $60 but has no subscription fee. All indications are that it’ll have some kind of cash shop. I’m basing this on the fact that pre-ordering Deluxe versions get you bonus items like

  • +5 Increased inventory space
  • 30-Day scrip boost
  • 30-Day XP boost

Those sound like things you’ll be able to buy in the cash shop, don’t they? And that’s fair… with no sub fee Trion and SyFy need some way to pay for keeping the servers up, right?

But all along we’ve heard a ton about ‘transmedia’ and how events might start in the TV show and end in the game, or vice versa. That suggests an ongoing stream of new content in the game based on advances in the TV show. I was pretty excited about seeing how that works out.

Today however, we got word of a Season Pass for DLC. $40 gets you the first 5 DLC packages. Here’s what they say about DLC:

Join the fight and save big on 5 DLC packs with the Defiance Season Pass. Enjoy a new playable alien species, new weapons and vehicles, missions, and rewards – plus a bonus Hellbug Combat Cap and Lock Box – a 20% savings!* This is the ultimate package for the true Ark Hunter!

And now I’m concerned. If we’re getting new missions and species via DLC, does that mean all this ‘transmedia’ stuff is going to be in the DLC that we have to pay for? At that point, isn’t this just a subscription, basically? If you watch the show and some big event happens and then you log into the game and find out to access this new content you have to pay $10 for the DLC to get it… I mean it isn’t literally a subscription… you could just skip out on that new content. But the transmedia aspect is one of the unique things that Defiance is bringing to the table.

Now, let’s be fair. It might be that there will be plenty of new content dished out in addition to the DLC, and if that’s the case I’ll be less concerned. But right now it isn’t clear.

I think Trion needs to be a lot more transparent about what sorts of content we will get outside of paid DLC, and exactly what that $40 is going to get us.

$60 box price (standard edition) + $40 Season Pass + cash shop to upgrade things like inventory slots… suddenly Defiance is sounding pretty damned expensive.

In general we gamers need to make more noise about this kind of thing. Publishers urge us to pre-order or buy season passes and they often are very light on the details about what exactly we’re paying for. Even looking up at that list above… +5 Inventory Slots. What does that mean? Does a basic account have 100 slots, in which case +5 is a mere 5% bonus? Or does a basic account have 5 slots, in which case +5 is a 100% bonus. We don’t know, but we’re supposed to trust the publishers and pre-order anyway.

Publishers: If you have faith in your game, give us all the information we need in order to make informed decisions.

Of course as I said, I’ve pre-ordered… so clearly I am part of the problem.



Comments:
2
  • People are pretty good at sniffing out a rip-off. If the game is too expensive, people will stop playing.

    However, shows are scripted and filmed months in advance. Game content isn’t trivial to develop. I don’t think we’ll see events in the game affecting events in the show at all, especially if there’s different servers, because then, which server gets to be mentioned on the show?

    Asheron’s Call, this ain’t… probably.

  • At least you had the opportunity to wait until closer to launch, even if you chose not to take advantage of it. Both SWTOR’s “expansion” and Marvel Heroes ran campaigns months in advance of release for products that still are neither out nor even free from NDA. Players who choose to prepurchase now will get reduced bonuses because they did not participate as early adopters.