Turtle Rock and 2K are currently on the receiving end of an Internet Frown due to their approach to DLC and pre-order gubbins in their impending humans vs monsters multiplayer shooter Evolve. They'd pared some pretty major stuff, including playable monsters, off into bonus payments, and as well as their various editions and DLC being simply confusing, there's been concern that the game experience might be harmed by such bestial partitioning.
Turtle Rock now claim otherwise, and that this isn't them cynically holding back finished content in the name of extra moolah.
Said Turtle Rock co-founder Phil Robb upon wading into a concerned forum thread:
"A lot of folks seem to be under the impression that we've got all this content done and we shave off a hunk to sell separately. That just isn't the case. When Evolve hits the shelves, none of the DLC will be done. Behemoth won't be done. None of the planned DLC hunters or monsters will be done. The only exception to this might be some skins that were working on now while we wait for all the final stages of packaging, manufacturing etc. to finish."
This may well be the case, though it's difficult to imagine that the business strategy for a big game from a major publisher wasn't planned for some time in advance, despite an assertion that "As we got closer to finishing Evolve we ended up with designs for a bunch of monster and hunters that we just didn't have the time and money to make. Instead of throw them all out, why not put together a budget to make them as DLC?"
I wonder if they'd have gotten away with it if they simply hadn't announced massive new monster the Behemoth until post-release, and included something less apparently significant/amazeballs in the pre-order/special edition bonus content.
The other contentious issue is pricing. For instance, for those who don't pre-order or drop extra on mega-packs, the Behemoth will cost $15 as a separate release (once it's finished). That's not pocket change. Of that, Robb argues that £Hunters and monsters are a pretty big undertaking, they cost a lot of money and time to make. We're hoping that once people see how much new hunters and monsters bring to the game that they'll feel like they got their money's worth." Time will tell, as will whether enough people enjoy the base game enough to spend more on it.
The other concern Turtle Rock are at pains to dismiss is that all this perceived nickel and diming might split the community. Apparently, while playable characters will get locked into DLC, maps and modes will not, plus people who don't own a particular character will be able to play with/against those who do. "You may not want to buy it, but your original purchase of the game will be enhanced by it anyway because you can still get into games with people who wanted to buy them. Hell, you can even set the DLC characters and monsters up as opponents in solo games."
They also promise that DLC characters won't be "overpowered." Robb also notes that business realities have changed since their days working with Valve, a firm who basically got to do whatever they wanted. There's some between-the-lines reading to be done about what working with a big publisher entails whether a studio wants it or not there, but he tries to reassure Turtle Rock's community that their own mindset hasn't changed, and that all the DLC stuff is about choice rather than pressure.
I don't know. I don't know! I don't like that a cool-looking game looks like it's being split off into sections, but at the same time it isn't doing anything that isn't increasingly common in big-publisher games already. Has it just become a easy-to-hit whipping boy for long-brewing discontent towards the DLC cynicism of Battlefield, COD and that lot, or has it genuinely gone too far?
The proof will be in the big, scaley pudding, and we're only a month away from finding out now - Evolve is released on Feb 10th. The PC beta starts tomorrow though, and I'll bring you some thoughts on that a little while later.