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Subject: "DLC" slowly creeping through the board game industry... Am I panicking? rss

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Fred Methot
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DLC... short for dowloadable content, is a trend that started a few years ago in the video game industry.

It quickly turned into a Payware DLC model and, as far as my own personal experience with video games is concerned, has killed it for me.

The very few games I liked the most, I couldn't play those online anymore as I wasn't willing to pay for downloadable content that would bring me up to par with other people I was playing with/against.

Eventually, I stopped playing those games and it was a waste of money in the end.

Where am I going with this... I have a feeling the DLC trend or business model is making its way into boardgaming, slowly, and am scared that it will eventually almost become the norm, let me explain.

Expansions are nice, it augments an already good game, add more stuff to it, and in some occasion fixes some issues as well, but it is generally far from required to keep enjoying the game. Still with most games out there today, I beleive there is a great deal of replayability.

But here comes those "Legacy" type games, or those one-time play scenario based games with zero replayability and selling for quite steep price, then have you buy more scenarios to keep playing the "base game". In some cases, and I won't name any games here myself, the additional scenarios are sold for the price of a good base game... concerning...

Yeah, all I have to do is ignore those games and move on to something else... but what if, eventually, this model grows bigger and bigger and basically kicks me away from a hobby I like, because I just can't keep up with the offer.

As I said, it's probably still too early to panic or be concerned, but it is there! Some designers and publishers even seem to specialize in this business model, and I'm just worried that since they put out VERY successful title that way, more and more designers and publishers will join in on this practice, exactly like what happened in the video game industry...

Anyways, just throwing this out thought out there to get other people's thought...

Cheers all!

Fred
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James C
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Steve C
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Since your username (sans periods) is "i am", I'm going to say you are panicking.

There have been new trends and concepts in recent years like kickstarter stretch goals being "base" game content, legacy games, and kids playing on my lawn. I'm not the biggest fan of these things, but they are only a small portion of all the board games that have been made recently so I'm not worried.
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Under the paving stones, the beach
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You're panicking.

As the video game analogy actually shows.

It's primarily an issue with AAA publishing; you can still find lots and lots of really good indie games without DLC.

In a worst case scenario, that's going to be similar in the board game industry. Buying DLC heavy games will never be necessary, not with what else is out there.
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Mike Jones
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Since I am not a video gamer, but an avid board gamer, I have to say that I don't see what you are talking about.

Expansions have always been part of board games. Some people like them and some don't. Some games come out with a zillion expansions and some don't.

As far as Legacy systems. They are a very small part of the board gaming niche. Just don't by them.

Sure they are growing, but just like when co-ops came on the scene and were the 'hot' new style, they didn't eliminate other styles of games and 'Legacy series' games will not either.
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Ryan Feathers
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Yep, you're panicking.

The number of games that fit your criteria are quite few and far between. Yes, some of the recent hotness such as Arkham Horror LCG, Time Stories, and Pandemic Legacy fit such a description. But the vast majority of games published do not fit in this category.

There is no need to worry all games are going to become like those. There will always be demand for traditional board games that don't require any expansions and they will still be made and sold.

In the end I'm just going to quote Douglas Adams and say Don't Panic.
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Matt Steski
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Of the ~5000 games and expansions BGG says were released in 2016, fewer than 10 of them were legacy games or one-shots. I think panic is probably premature.

(I count SeaFall, 2 TIME Stories expansions, and a handful of escape room games. Maybe I missed a couple, but it's still easily under 1%).
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sean johnson
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I would say that tabletop gaming has been doing a DLC model better than video games for a while. A lot of freemium games or DLC based gamed are a lot like collectible games, where the more money a player puts in the more competitive they are (to a point). One of the most popular of these games, Hearthstone, clearly draws inspiration from Magic.

Another aspect of the DLC model are small little add-ons that are not necessary but add customization or a very minor feature. This is very comparable to board game promos, that people love to pick up either at $5 a pop from the BGG store or though the constant media creator kickstarter campaigns.

The aspect of DLC that is just now showing up in board games is the kind we see with first person shooter video games. Where they release a game that feels incomplete (I am looking at you Star Wars Battlefront) with the intentions of up selling the consumer on a "season pass" that gives a constant influx of DLC. We might see some of the legacy style games go this route, but honestly Fantasy Flight is already close to this with their LCG model and what they are doing with Imperial Assault.

However, as other posters have already pointed out if you do not like these aspect of tabletop gaming play something else. There are a ton of good games you can get and never have to worry about an expansion.
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Olli Juhala
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SeanXor wrote:
I would say that tabletop gaming has been doing a DLC model better than video games for a while. A lot of freemium games or DLC based gamed are a lot like collectible games, where the more money a player puts in the more competitive they are (to a point). One of the most popular of these games, Hearthstone, clearly draws inspiration from Magic.


Besides, boardgames are almost never tied to publisher-approved venues of play (servers, that is), so you can much more easilly maintain a casual play interest in a game without need to spend on play as much.
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Jerry Martin
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DLC is not playable in Video Games because you have to match an opponent to play with them.

In boardgames that isn't a problem. We are all playing the same game.

Plus, even if starting tomorrow all games required you consistently buy expansions you still have access to the 1000's of games that came before.
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George Louie
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I do think the OP has some valid points, but I think it's been around for quite awhile, and perhaps the practice pre-dates digital DLC. I believe it started with collectable card games, and has evolved from there.

To me, some newer games released now seem to be an incomplete experience, as if the designer or publisher held something back in order to release the expansion. The relatively recent game that comes to mind for me is [thing=129437][/thing. IMO, the base game of Legendary: Marvel, seemed like it was purposely shorted, to give the buyers a taste, but not the full game.. IMO, it should've included at least one of the expansions in the base game. I'll cut the publishers some slack, because its probably pretty expensive for publishers to purchase the license for Marvel, but it still felt incomplete to me.

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tfoz 15
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Agree with the majority. You are panicking. This would be similar to someone saying a few years back that deck building games are the new trend in gaming and they will soon take over, leaving nothing but new deck building games to buy.

Legacy, as it exists today, will adapt and morph into something unrecognizable in the future. Its such a miniscule proportion of the overall board gaming world, you can easily, as you stated, ignore legacy games and be just fine. You'll still have thousands of new releases to choose from each year.
 
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George Louie
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Guantanamo wrote:
Since I am not a video gamer, but an avid board gamer, I have to say that I don't see what you are talking about.

Expansions have always been part of board games. Some people like them and some don't. Some games come out with a zillion expansions and some don't.

As far as Legacy systems. They are a very small part of the board gaming niche. Just don't by them.

Sure they are growing, but just like when co-ops came on the scene and were the 'hot' new style, they didn't eliminate other styles of games and 'Legacy series' games will not either.


Hmm... I don't remember any of the board games I played as a kid involving expansions.. Chess, Checkers, Mah Jong, Monopoly, Parcheesi, Sorry, Connect Four, etc... They may not be the best board games, but they are part of board game history, so to say "Expansions have always been a part of board games..." is ridiculous. Expansions to games is a relatively new trend, which started when publishers realized they could make more money by iteratively releasing content, rather than selling the entire package...
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Olli Juhala
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glouie wrote:


Hmm... I don't remember any of the board games I played as a kid involving expansions.. Chess, Checkers, Mah Jong, Monopoly, Parcheesi, Sorry, Connect Four, etc... They may not be the best board games, but they are part of board game history, so to say "Expansions have always been a part of board games..." is ridiculous. Expansions to games is a relatively new trend, which started when publishers realized they could make more money by iteratively releasing content, rather than selling the entire package...


On the other hand, expanding content has been part of the wider hobby gaming industry/market for a *very long time* - RPG's, wargames, miniature games have hand iterative content models probably since day one which is pretty close to the earliest days of modern hobby board games. Succesfull games have gotten an expansion or three pretty much consistently for the past 20 years.
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Mike Jones
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Shader10 wrote:
glouie wrote:


Hmm... I don't remember any of the board games I played as a kid involving expansions.. Chess, Checkers, Mah Jong, Monopoly, Parcheesi, Sorry, Connect Four, etc... They may not be the best board games, but they are part of board game history, so to say "Expansions have always been a part of board games..." is ridiculous. Expansions to games is a relatively new trend, which started when publishers realized they could make more money by iteratively releasing content, rather than selling the entire package...


On the other hand, expanding content has been part of the wider hobby gaming industry/market for a *very long time* - RPG's, wargames, miniature games have hand iterative content models probably since day one which is pretty close to the earliest days of modern hobby board games. Succesfull games have gotten an expansion or three pretty much consistently for the past 20 years.


Thank you for having a reasonable outlook on life.
 
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tfoz 15
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glouie wrote:
Guantanamo wrote:
Since I am not a video gamer, but an avid board gamer, I have to say that I don't see what you are talking about.

Expansions have always been part of board games. Some people like them and some don't. Some games come out with a zillion expansions and some don't.

As far as Legacy systems. They are a very small part of the board gaming niche. Just don't by them.

Sure they are growing, but just like when co-ops came on the scene and were the 'hot' new style, they didn't eliminate other styles of games and 'Legacy series' games will not either.


Hmm... I don't remember any of the board games I played as a kid involving expansions.. Chess, Checkers, Mah Jong, Monopoly, Parcheesi, Sorry, Connect Four, etc... They may not be the best board games, but they are part of board game history, so to say "Expansions have always been a part of board games..." is ridiculous. Expansions to games is a relatively new trend, which started when publishers realized they could make more money by iteratively releasing content, rather than selling the entire package...


Your last statement is partially misleading. Sure, just like video games, some board games are created, stripped down, and released in installments to make more money. I'm not going to argue that doesn't happen. However, many board games are released in their complete, full scale and its not until some time later the expansions are conceived and created. I find no harm in this. As long as the base game is complete, the expansion is optional. If you don't like it, don't buy it.

Other games may have expansions planned but not yet created. Dominion comes to mind. If the creator had waited until all expansions were complete and delivered Dominion as one big box it would have been too cost prohibitive for many people to purchase. He also learned along the way through incremental releases which style cards were popular and which weren't, impacting future designs. I have no problem with this.

Take Viticulture for example. I love that game and I personally think the Tuscany expansion made the game that much better. I can't comment on whether Tuscany was created alongside or after the base game, but I certainly understand why it was released separately. It would have been way too expensive.
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tfoz 15
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Similarly, I don't think all video game dlc or expansions are created equally either. See Witcher 3. They did things the right way. Contrary to many other video games out there.
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Eric Engelmann
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I'm seeing lots of opportunities to buy options to enhance popular games (new editions, promos, metal coins, fancy boxes, etc.), but these just make your older game worth less money, not keep you from playing it with others (unless another game has the upgraded components set and everyone wants to play it). A bigger problem is that Agricola, St. Petersburg, Through the Ages, Modern Art, etc. have new and "improved" versions which create some challenges when organizing tournaments or otherwise organizing play among gamers who know/have one version but not the other.
 
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I remember DLC "content" in the mid-70s in these things called magazines like the General and Moves.

Sure, it was monetized on a much smaller scale then (just the cost of the mag), but it wasn't a problem then, nor is it now.

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Syvanis wrote:
DLC is not playable in Video Games because you have to match an opponent to play with them.



On top of which,there are hardly any board games that actually give you an in game advantage for buying expansions. The main exceptions I can think of are Munchkin and the CCGs. And the latter is reassuring; most games still don't use that approach.

glouie wrote:

Hmm... I don't remember any of the board games I played as a kid involving expansions.. Chess, Checkers, Mah Jong, Monopoly, Parcheesi, Sorry, Connect Four, etc...


As a bit of historical pedantry, Monopoly does have an expansion, it's just forgotten about now. Monopoly Stock Exchange Add-on.

Quote:
Expansions to games is a relatively new trend, which started when publishers realized they could make more money by iteratively releasing content, rather than selling the entire package...


Depends what we mean by "relatively new". You're right that they weren't generally used in classic and family games. But by this stage, expansions are over thirty years old. Talisman and Cosmic Encounter always used them heavily.

Crucially though, those were never necessary to play the game. They were just extra experienes for those that wanted them. I'm not sure that selling the entire package would have been feasible financially; it would have required a financial investment most new players wouldn't have been willing to pay.
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    There's a lot of really good games out there already, more than enough to keep you happy for decades. Were the entire industry to move to a model you don't care for you could live off the land and score most of you purchases at half or less than the original MSRP.

             S.

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You don't need to buy everything.

Pete (buys freely but rarely feels a "need" to buy anything)
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I agree with the point of being anti-DLC.

I think it helps to understand that in the videogame industry a game's profits are largely driven by sales in the first two months. Most of the sales after that are in the second-hand market. The cost of developing a video game is quite large, and there's a huge marketing and distribution channel to compensate as well. DLC was "invented" as a way to keep the publisher in the money-making business after those first few weeks had passed - $5 per owner when a game might have four owners nets a decent profit.

This worked great, and added some extra content to some really popular games - but then the model drifted. To ensure that profit the DLC started being baked into the initial development, so you'd get 90% of a game, and have to buy the extra 10%, instead of the DLC being additional bonus levels for instance. Then the iOS market took off, and invented the "Freemium" model - where a game is released for free, ,but you could pay to get things faster or stronger... and publishers followed that model as well.

The good news is that board games are a much more niche industry - the cost to develop games is less, and the anticipated profits are lower as well - a board game doesn't need to make the publisher millions to break even. The "legacy" games do obviously reduce a second-hand market for the games, but provide dynamic content for the gamers - and that appeals to some... but it won't to everyone. I agree with other posters that CCG has been the biggest offender in this realm - and I'm more worried about it being the model, but I don't think it will ever be the dominant model. I avoid games that use the "booster box" method, mostly because I know I'd be too tempted to dive in with my wallet.

So my long-winded and rambling answer - don't panic, but keep aware. The great news is that board games are becoming more and more popular, and even if new games went 100% DLC at the moment, we'd still have thousands of titles in the back catalog that are worth a look... and more great games are published all the time. It's a great time to be a gamer!
 
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Nicholas Krause
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Really? Magic invented pay to win. D&D pioneered pointless expensive expansions. Board Games have been fleecing people for way before arcades were stealing quarters. Learn your history young gun and respect your elders.
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Guantanamo wrote:
Since I am not a video gamer, but an avid board gamer, I have to say that I don't see what you are talking about.
There's a thraed right now in general gaming that sort of explains it. It concerns Star Wars: Imperial Assault and how you don't get a full game, but instead have to pay for character packs to add content to what's in the box, and how there are numerous other character packs to buy just to keep up with the content. That's pretty analagous to the DLC model in video gaming.

The LCG (or CCG) model has similarities too, in the sense that you might have to keep buying content just to keep up with what your friends are doing.

Pete (sees the parallels but has never felt an obligation to buy DLC for any game)
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