So it was announced just a couple of days ago that Bioshock Infinite will be boosted with three pieces of expansion DLC. What will they be? Who knows! Rest assured, the marketers have declared there will be “new stories, characters, abilities, and weapons.”
Phew! I was worried that I would only get a soundtrack or something… wait, no I wasn't.
Give me more money, or I cut you.
Publishers, these days, have been looking for new methods to increase the price of games and prevent their discs from being resold on the used market. We seem to be escaping the dark era where single-player games were condemned as fiscal black holes from which your capital would never be seen again. The view was that a solo experience would be completed before they finished monitoring their sales figures and the used market would eat the rest of their sales curve. The solution clearly was to toss even more capital at those games to tack on a multiplayer component that no-one played and make the loss look really bad on paper and further justify your fears of used sales and piracy.
And really we are part of the problem as consumers when we expect the $50 or $60 price-point. Of course, we expect that price-point because we have been conditioned to expecting that value fairly across-the-board. We have begun to see games, mostly indie titles, come in at lower launch prices in particular with digital distribution platforms.
The biggest problem is this: publishers do not need to find the largest value customers would pay for their content; publishers need to find the largest product of any given price and its corresponding probability of purchase for all potential buyers. On Steam you see this explode with sales where a moderate price reduction yields a massive sales increase with even a halo effect when the price returns to its norm.
So what about Bioshock?
In this case, honestly, the game will probably be worth more than its $60 price tag when speaking from a development effort versus the risk in finding its audience standpoint. As such, the publisher will add some attach rate of slightly extra content for a moderate price addition. This is one more example of how members of the industry continue to avoid risks. In this case, they want to spread the risk out over multiple products.
At least they didn't, you know — be Irrational (heh heh heh), and toss that development money going after the used sales boogyman. At least they will get the money they expect.