£3.99 for the immersive Ranger difficulty mode? Get on your banana.
Picture this. It’s lunchtime. You’re at the shop, getting yourself a banana-filled bagel. You hand over your money and the dashing man behind the counter whips it up for you in a jiffy. But just as he’s about to give it to you he takes the banana out of the bagel. He grins as he hands the bagel shell to you. Obviously you say something along the lines of, “Why, in the name of poor customer service everywhere, did you just take the banana out of my bagel?”
“Oh,” he says, looking straight into your dismayed eyes, “if you had ordered your bagel in advance you could have had the banana. If you want it, it’ll cost you £3.99 extra.” I’ll spare you the gory, eye-gouging details, suffice to say that the brutal violence directed at the grinning bagel seller was wholly justified.
Now imagine said salesman is a games developer, the bagel is his new video game and the banana is his fans’ most hotly anticipated game mode.
I think banana/bagel metaphors are an untapped source of insight, but I’ll leave it for now.
Let me tell it to you straight: the publishers of the new Metro: Last Light are charging £3.99 for the Ranger (realistic hard mode) difficulty setting, unless you pre-order the game. This difficulty setting was very popular in their previous game Metro 2033, as it gave the game the survival feel fans had originally hoped for, with realistic weapon damage and reduced survivability for both enemies and player. The real cheek here though (apart from charging four quid for a difficulty setting) is calling it DLC, when it’s already on the disc (stop smiling Capcom, we haven’t forgotten you quite yet). Now do you get the banana, bagel thing? No? Okay. Never mind.
As if to fan the flames by throwing a can of petrol on them, the pre-order page of the website actually says that Ranger mode is “the way it was meant to be played.” That’s like taking the guns out of Call of Duty, or the Batsuit out of Arkham City, or shaving off Mario’s moustache and holding it at ransom for £4. Okay, maybe not that last one.
This isn’t the first time this has happened with a Metro game either. The original Xbox game was subject to the same fan-alienating marketing scheme. Though they seemed to learn their lesson that time around, releasing the DLC for free when the game came to PC.
So, why the hell are they doing it again?
Money, of course. Just like the banana bagel salesman wasn’t in it for the love of wheat based, fruit filled cuisine. The swine.
When will they learn that we don’t appreciate being treated like blind, money-spewing sheep? When will they stop hiding essential parts of development behind further payments and push shoddy features as bargain add-ons (you’re not getting off the hook either, Horse Armour)? Probably when we stop pre-ordering this crap.
I wish the producers of the medium we love would at least try to insult us subtly, with a bit of flare. I miss the days of rakish con artists pulling off elaborate schemes involving trilbies and helicopters. Now we’re stuck with business conglomerates who think clever sales tactics are to charge us for content we’ve already just paid for.
We’re cleverer than that. The bagel may well be one of the best bagels in town, but I still want my banana.
Check out Angry Joe’s video for an angrier, less cullinary response.
Images: Deep Silver