Posted on February 17 2017 by Tyler Fisher
As with many popular AAA games today, Nintendo has announced a $20 season pass for Breath of the Wild, including two DLC packs to be released this year and a few bonus chests available day one for purchasers. As is typical with these types of DLC announcements, the reaction was divisive at best. Many Zelda fans are upset, especially over details like a ‘new hard mode’ included in the first DLC pack, seemingly appearing as content taken out of the main game to sell as DLC. Other fans, however, are overjoyed that Breath of the Wild is getting new content over the course of the year for a comparatively fair price.
Taking a look on the positive side, it seems a number of fans are okay with Breath of the Wild having a season pass, but are more concerned by the timing of the announcement and vague terms used to describe the DLC packs. As with a lot of details surrounding the Nintendo Switch launch, Nintendo has just not shared enough specifics with fans to explain what’s going on. As such, fans are questioning a number of different things regarding this DLC, such as the following:
- Is ‘new hard mode’ just a difficulty setting, or more akin to Ocarina of Time’s Master Quest?
- Does the base game include standard difficulty settings or a typical hero mode?
- Do the bonus items granted for purchasing the DLC unbalance the beginning of the game?
- Was this DLC developed for the full game, then cut out to make a quick buck?
- How will they add a new dungeon and side story to the game?
- What kinds of challenges are they adding, and how?
- Why aren’t they selling the DLC piecemeal, and why doesn’t it come with the Special/Master editions?
- Why not just delay the game again? It’s been delayed 2 years already, I can wait another 8 months for a full experience. (HA!)
The issue with a number of these questions is simple. While there’s evidence to support that publishers do make more money by having DLC to purchase on day one (guilty as charged with Star Wars Battlefront), communication is a serious issue. As many of us know, Nintendo can be both the best and the worst at communication. Taking a look at one of Nintendo’s previous season pass announcements, that of Mario Kart 8, the reaction was significantly different. The game had been out for a few months, reviewed very well, and besides battle mode, was seen as a fully-developed and complete game. The DLC was announced with specific details, including the number of new courses, characters, and vehicles one would receive in each pack, and that buyers would get multi-colored Yoshi and Shy Guy as a bonus immediately. Due to the cheaper $11.99 price for essentially half a Mario Kart’s worth of new courses, many saw this as a great value for more Mario Kart and were happy to buy it.
The issue with Breath of the Wild’s DLC, however, is that we don’t know yet if this game is as complete a Zelda game as Mario Kart 8 was complete as a Mario Kart game. All we can do at this point is speculate. Perhaps Nintendo did have a lot of this DLC done, but decided to push it back to recoup development costs on what is likely one of, if not the, most expensive Nintendo game ever made. Or, on the other hand, Nintendo wished to have the best year possible for their new console-handheld hybrid and thought supplementing its release schedule with more reasons to play Zelda as a good idea for both players and their business.
Regardless the reason, the core issue remains. Was it a mistake for Nintendo to announce this DLC before the launch of Breath of the Wild? Everyone will likely give a different take on the answer to this question. Perhaps they should have waited to announce this season pass, even if only until launch day. At that point, fans would certainly have more clarity on what features are in the base game, especially regarding the number of dungeons and difficulty settings, from reading widely available impressions and reviews. Along with this, Nintendo would still be able to rake in an extra $20 a pop from a number of core Zelda fans eager to have more Zelda to play later this year. Even waiting a month or two after launch wouldn’t hurt sales of the DLC much, and would even better improve the optics and reception of the announcement. Either way, Nintendo seems to understand the value proposition of DLC better than most and it’s likely they’ll deliver $20 worth of Zelda in this season pass. Announcing it at this point in time, however, hasn’t given fans confidence that this is the case and appears to some as just an attempt to take advantage of fans eager to play Breath of the Wild.
So when do you think Nintendo should have announced Breath of the Wild’s Expansion Pass? Do you plan on buying it? Sound off below!