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.

15 thoughts on “Dragon Age DLC Pricing

  1. I will wait for your thoughts on the Return to Ostagar DLC before I make a decision. I am just worried that Bioware will be releasing small DLC like this on a consistent basis at five bucks a pop. It will get pretty costly after a while.

  2. I dislike the idea of DLC and reject it normally… except DA: O is such a good game I sort of can’t say no. I buy a game to experience it fully, something which Fallout sort of let me down on, but DA: O has continued to give me experiences, challenges and enjoyment. It’s the only, the game should be finished, thing in my head, which is probably me still feeling burnt about AoC truth be told, but I’ve enjoyed both the DLC content anyway!

    I got my DA: O for £26, free with it came Shale’s content. I bought Warden’s keep for £4. So £30 in total (that’s like $45-50 to you Yanks?) for a game that’s consumed 50 hours so far and although I’ve barely used Shale, I’ve used the crap out of the items (still using some), am finding the damage to yourself moves pretty awesome and well, I don’t normally replay games, but I actually plan to -JUST- to use Shale.

    So that one guy alone is going to make me repeat!

    And cause frankly Bioware are amazing, Dragonage is so good and I would rather invest money into something that will absorb my time than something which is a passing trend for myself (MW2), Bioware will probably get my DLC monies also.

  3. The Stone Prisoner is really a special case. It wasn’t just the collectors editions, the code came in my standard retail PC version too. I look at it as part of the normal game, rigged up as a penalty for buying used(console) or installing on multiple machines(PC), as you need to log in to have it. Room for a whole other debate on this practice.

    I’d say $5 is a decent price point to start. Low enough to not need much debate. Really depends on how frequent these are, and how needed they seem.

  4. @Jeco – Wow, thanks, I didn’t realize the Stone Prisoner came with every copy… that makes a HUGE difference. So yeah, it’s just a “Don’t buy used!” thing.

  5. I love quality DLC and have enjoyed Dragon Age’s very much. My box (standard box, no pre-order) had a code for the Stone Prisoner so I jumped on that one. I would fancy a guess the high cost is due to the cost of all the voice acting, for Shale and everyone else reacting to him, plus the artists and animators. The only thing you “get” in Warden’s Keep is the party storage, which is great, but at the end of the day there’s not much additional coding to make that work, as opposed to everything that went into Shale. The prices also indicate that Return to Ostagar will also be a fairly short quest line, and at only $5 I’m not expecting any type of permanent reward-type addition to the game. By that logic, I could say I paid $5 for the adventure in Warden’s Keep and the extra $2 went for the storage chest.

    Regardless, I look forward to Dragon Age’s two-year DLC plan to keep the game fresh and interesting.

    @Shamutanti: I dislike the idea of DLC and reject it normally… I will presume you’re an MMO player since you’re reading Pete’s blog at all, and therefore wonder how an MMO player can “dislike the idea of DLC” since that is precisely what every single patch/content update/expansion is for an MMOG…

  6. @Pete: I don’t know for certain but what I’d read is that some boxes had codes for Stone Prisoner and/or the Dragon Armor (mine had both) but not all. I can’t imagine they all did, otherwise Stone Prisoner would have simply been free DLC, ya know?

  7. @Scott – It makes sense from a console point of view. So if you buy a used copy for the 360 from Gamestop, you have to shell out $15. If you buy a new copy, you get Stone Prisoner. A few companies (as I understand it) are headed towards this “Reward new purchases” mentality.

  8. btw, it took me about 35 hours to get through DA:O the first time. I did most of the sidequests, but none of the special companion quests, because I had no idea they existed. I tend not to read much about games I want to play ahead of time, and I only found out about THOSE quests when I was reading up on the game after I finished. Looking over the quests, I’m sure I could stretch the time to 40 hours. So I wouldn’t call it an extremely lengthy game.

    I might buy the Warden’s Keep DLC if I play through the game again.

  9. @Tipa – That’s interesting. I triggered one of the companion quests by giving someone a gift, and another just seemed to pop up of its own accord.

    Interesting that its possible to complete the game so quickly though. Thanks for the info!

  10. Dunno, as a long-time Sims player, the idea of DLC is pretty “normal” to me at this point, so I don’t think twice about it. Since Sims3 launched I’ve probably sunk another $100 easily into Sims points to spend on additional furniture, wallpapers, maps, etc. The idea of $5 for another chunk of game seems perfectly fine to me. Cheap, even. My problem is getting enough time for immersion, as I don’t want to just play this game but actually experience it. And quality time like that is precious at the moment, so until I do get past scratching the surface I’m not worried about adding the additional content.

  11. I agree to a point. Yes the amount of money spent should reflect in the amount of hours spent in the game. But it’s more complicated than that. Other factors may include the depth of the story and lore, the character development, and how the world around you unfolds.

    I also think you may be selling Shale short. I don’t know how long or gratifying his personal quest may be. But Alistair’s and Zevran’s personal quests were boring at best, so my hopes aren’t very high for companion quests. I rescued Shale very early on and I have through enjoyed his banter in the group, and his powerful, pounding abilities. I am digressing. My point is that you didn’t take one important factor into consideration: Shale is a class of his own. He is not necessarily Warrior, or Mage, or Rogue, or Dog. He is ‘Golem’, and comes with his own set of background, abilities and skill tree. I think the $15 pricetag included the work put into the class as well.

    I am confused about one thing though. If EVERYONE who purchased a copy of DA:O get a code for Shale, then why was it up as a DLC? I mean I guess it is to ensure pirates never get to experience Shale, but if EVERYONE who bought will have access to it, why put a pricetag on it? Just say its a DLC that you can get ONLY if you purchased the game and you can prove your purchase.

  12. @Bronte – You must be primarily a PC gamer? In the console space, there’s a HUGE market for used games via places like Gamestop. When someone buys a used game from Gamestop, EA/Bioware gets nothing for it. But if someone buys a used copy of the game, then purchases the Stone Prisoner DLC, EA/Bioware gets at least $15.

  13. DLC is the art of getting someone to buy the shit which was cut during production. How would any of you like to buy the crap which didn’t made it into the last Hollywood Blockbuster.
    But at least DLC can achieve the same thing Content Management Systems did for the net give untalented people to tell stories now one ever wanted to hear and leave it too marketing guys to sell this crap to idiots who buy it.

    Sorry to those of you who bought the crap, but in my time(I hate to write this) we didn’t pay for extra content it was already in and if it wasn’t we didn’t miss it.

    All rise for the honorable Prince of Persia who defeated Jaffar even in EGA

    @PETE EA shouldn’t get anything but a brick to the head for ruining the game market the way they did.
    EA it’s a shame.

  14. @someguy – “How would any of you like to buy the crap which didn’t made it into the last Hollywood Blockbuster.’

    People do that all the time in the form of Director’s Cuts or Special Edition DVDs w/deleted scenes restored.

    You won’t miss the DLC content here either. None of it is integral to the storyline.

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