Dragon Age DLC Pricing

Over the weekend I went through the two current DLC packs for Dragon Age: Origins. I didn’t really plan it, it just happened that I liberated the Warden’s Keep on Saturday and got Shale into my party on Sunday. It got me thinking about the cost of DLC.

The Stone Prisoner (which adds potential party member Shale) costs $15 while Warden’s Keep costs $7. The upcoming Return to Ostagar will cost $5.

Some folks think these prices are too high, while others consider them fair. I can kind of see both sides of the argument. When I’m determining value in a game, I basically break it down into a cost/hour number.

So in support of the pricing, if I spend $5-$7 for a piece of DLC and it entertains me for an evening, that seems ok. Going to a movie is going to cost me a lot more than that. Going to a meal still more. I could get a Starbuck’s Latte for $5, or I could spend an evening going through this content.

Looking at it another way, though, how does that $5 compare to the entire game? Dragon Age (PC) lists for $50 and has what? 60 hours of gameplay? (I’m guessing..I haven’t finished yet.) For ease of use let’s assume it’s a 50 hour game. So that’s $1/hour. Does the Warden’s Keep contain the 7 hours of content it would need to match the value of the main game? No, it doesn’t. Of course there’s more than just the adventure of recovering the Keep from the forces of evil. You also get some unique items and some storage space. Putting a dollar value on that is tough.

The Stone Prisoner is even harder to gauge. From Bioware’s point of view I can see why they’d price it so high. It’s another NPC in the game, with new art assets and animations, new (and considerable) voice talent, and both the quest to free Shale and his NPC quest. Plus potentially more voice acting from the other actors to react to Shale (guessing here too…I don’t use him).

So I can understand how this content was costly to produce. But I’m not sure that’s going to matter to most gamers. Will they get 15 hours out of Shale? Rescuing him is pretty fast (maybe an hour). I don’t know how elaborate his personal quest is, but neither does the potential buyer.

Bioware has promised 2 years worth of DLC for Dragon Age: Origins but (as far as I know) they haven’t really gone into detail about what that DLC will be. Will the story be extended or will it all be “side story” stuff? Will we see more NPC companions?

If the Stone Prisoner costs $15, how much would a short add-on campaign that’ll last you a few evenings cost? Twice as much? $30? Over half the price of the game? That seems crazy.

Maybe Shale was priced high just to drive customers to one of CE or Deluxe versions? The Collector’s Edition is $60, so it costs less than buying the standard edition + the Stone Prisoner DLC.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what we get with Return to Ostagar. $5 seems like a good price for a chunk of DLC. If I spending an evening having fun playing through Ostagar, I’ll feel like I got my money’s worth.

How about you? Where’s your comfort zone when it comes to paying for DLC? I’ve used Dragon Age: Origins to illustrate this post, but feel free to comment on DLC costs in general.