Rock Band DLC – You’re Doing It Wrong!
I’m not sure about you but I am a huge fan of DLC. Be it big or small, free or paid for I am a massive advocate of anything designed to make some our most favourite games more enjoyable after release, especially as they tend increase the longevity of something we already love. To put it simply; shiny thing is awesome, I like to have some smaller shiny things to make my original shiny thing better.
The problem is, as with most things ‘businesses’ get their hands on, that somewhere along the line someone got dollar signs in their eyes which leads to them completely and utterly missing the point that shiny things are pretty for a reason, and one of the things that make them so good is their rarity and quality. Shiny things just aren’t all that special when they’re shoved in your face every day, especially if they end up getting in your way.
If anyone is like me and takes huge joy in randomly snooping around the Xbox Market Place, then you will be more than aware of the complete and utter cluster-fuck of a mess Rock Band DLC has made of the Add-on Store. The premise of what Harmonix is trying to achieve has its heart in the right place; it essentially aims to promote unknown bands at minimal charges to customers. Even with this is mind I still find the whole system a bit suspect, and think Harmonix are trying to flog the dead horse and earn as much pocket money as possible. At the end of a day it gives people the chance to hear new bands on a try before you buy premise, which has to have some positive outcome.
The thing that really annoys me is the mess it has left in the Xbox marketplace; the sheer spam of constantly releasing two versions of each song is irreducibly disrupting to the average gamer. As I said I absolutely love DLC, but in the ignorance of Harmonix being relevant and earning capital they have shat on nearly every other game developer out there by bumping their newest piece of downloadable work with their daily musical updates.
Most people don’t really keep an ear to the ground with DLC when it comes out; it’s almost like a nice surprise we get when we are feeling adventurous enough to click some buttons on our home screen to find something new for Fallout or Assassins Creed. But considering on average Rock Band has released three songs a day everyday you really can’t help but think by spamming the fuck out of the market place all Harmonix have done is turn it in to a mess of Rock Band images, interspersed with the odd downloadable wrestler, or car pack for DiRT.
The Xbox Marketplace is now somewhere I do not willingly like to visit, let alone go window shopping, and the lack of foresight by Harmonix is the main cause of mess. It will serve to do nothing in the long run except to hurt all the musical artists who have spent time and effort recording and tracking their songs in the hope to achieve a little exposure and small return on their hard work (30% goes to the band, Harmonix like to spend the other 70% on crack).
A simpler less visually offensive plan would be to create a weekly/monthly downloadable pack, all the while allowing the music fans who really want to hear something new to have some DLC to look forward to. Recently I have noticed the problem spreading as even less socially aware developers than Harmonix like Monolith have started to think they know the score, and have since attacked the Xbox Marketplace with every little customizable in-game item for Batman Imposters in the hope of micro transitioning themselves to the top of the world.
I know a marketplace can be construed as new ground, and people are still learning the best ways to carry themselves while also beating the competition with new and innovative sales tactics, but I really think whoever came up with the scheme of promoting unknown bands –however well meaning- hasn’t spent any time looking at just how rubbish the plan looks to the world once it’s been put into action. It’s a shame, as the whole thing was a pretty good plan, just poorly implemented.