I should start by saying that I haven’t actually played the Skylander game that came out last year, so I can’t speak to the quality of the game but I have been intrigued by the way they’ve handled post-release content. I really like the idea of having some kind of tangible item to go along with the DLC for your game. Some people are still a little cautious about purchasing DLC because of uncertainty of ownership. Whether you like DLC or not, it’s become a part of the gaming industry and it really doesn’t look like it’ll be going away anytime soon. So while we have it, wouldn’t it be nice to have the option to buy something tangible to go along with your new character skin/level/song/whatever? This probably wouldn’t work for every type of game (what would you buy for a COD map pack?) but I got to thinking about it tonight and it could work for quite a few series.
Pretty much any Nintendo, Sony or Sega mascot mash-up
It doesn’t matter if you’re playing Mario party, Mario Kart, Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing, or the upcoming Playstation All Stars Battle Royale, chances are somebody’s favorite character is going to be left in the cold. These forgotten characters should be sold as action figures that can be downloaded into your game. Using Skylanders as a template, you could package an action figure with a code for a new level and maybe a new item. So for Mario Kart 7, I could buy a Waluigi action figure (w/ kart) and also get a code for a track based around him and possibly a re-skin for an existing item or a completely new one. If you buy a figure for a character who’s already in the game, then maybe you could offer a download for a re-skin so that the player feels like they have a little more ownership over that character.
Okay, this one seems like a no-brainer all the way. Why hasn’t anyone already inked a deal with Mattel? Those guys make Hot Wheels for crying out loud! Think of a game like Gran Turismo, Need for Speed or Forza Motorsport where you can go buy a Hot Wheels version of the car you want and transfer it into your game. Even if you don’t want the Hot Wheels car… who cares? If you were buying the DLC anyway, why not get something extra with it? Maybe it’s just me but that seems like a win-win for both parties. It increases the shelf-space and visibility of your game, you get collectors trying to buy up all of your toys and the players get a tangible item to go along with their in game item. I’ll continue to be shocked if this never happens.
The Lego games
This one stumps me a bit. They already make physical toys based on the same titles that they make games for but they don’t tie the two together beyond the property they’re based on. I don’t want to advocate taking content out of a game but they pack a lot of characters into each of these titles and a lot of them just feel like re-skins. If they were to leave some of the popular characters out (lets say Nightwing, Aquaman, etc in the new Lego Batman) then they could take the time to tailor make some levels based around those characters. Like I said, I don’t like the idea of taking content out of a game so lets go with a different approach. Since they already make the toys, just start packaging some codes inside the boxes that give the player something new in their game. Maybe make a Green Arrow (really hoping he’s in the game, btw) Lego set that gives Lego Batman 2 players some new trick arrows and a couple of levels based on the set they just bought. Or, a Green Lantern set that gives players all-new light constructs and some levels based on the set.
Maybe this is all just me and my nerdist mindset kicking in on this topic but I’m surprised no other company has jumped on this bandwagon yet. Some of them even have things in place to get started (looking at you Lego guys). As an adult, I love the idea of buying a toy and then “bringing it to life”, so I can only imagine what it must be like for a kid. I know child-me would have flipped out over this if it was around back then. Even without that aspect, I still just think it’s a nice added value for those of us who are already buying DLC for their games. I do want to point out that I don’t think it should be the only means of obtaining the content. Keep the download only version for those who aren’t into buying toys. I just think it’s a fun option that benefits both industries and I’d like to see others try something with it.
So what do you think? If more companies jumped onto the Physical DLC (not sure if that’s even the term to use) bandwagon, would you jump on with them? If so, what would you be interested in seeing? If not…well, why not?