Everyone can have an opinion, but not every opinion is an informed one - so says Bethesda vice president Peter Hines, as regards the controversial business of day-one DLC. Speaking to us during the latest OXM Podcast, Hines commented that while Bethesda's add-on packs tend to arrive somewhat later, he can understand why other companies ship their digital offerings at launch, and thinks particularly vocal gamers should give developers a break.
"I mean, certainly the reaction to it is pretty apparent," Hines began. "I'm not sure if I have an exact opinion, because we're not doing it. I try not to get into judging what other folks do, I certainly don't appreciate them chiming in on what we should or shouldn't be doing, particularly because, how would they know. I understand where it's coming from.
"I think there is, at least among a certain segment of the gaming audience," he went on. "I don't think they quite understand the development process and the point at which you have to stop making the game and you have to finish the game. So, the content people stop making new content a fair amount of time before it ships; it's not like in the old days when it was like the day before or a week before."
Thanks to such misunderstandings, developers are often put through the wringer by fans. Ultimately, Hines suggests, everyone should just "do what they think works best for them, and the customers have the decision to buy or not to buy as they see fit."
While such decisions may appear cynical, they simply make good business sense. "There's a pretty long gap where your artists and designers are fixing a bug if they get one, or they may be playing the game to find bugs, but they're not making a new anything for a long time, and you have creative people who are used to creating - so why would you make them wait some period of time, months in some cases, to start making new stuff so you can say it was after DLC?"
Bethesda would have released Skyrim's (generally excellent) DLC packs earlier, had it been a genuine, workable possibility, Hines told us. "If we could have created Dragonborn and put it out just as good three weeks after release, we probably would have. But that's not even remotely possible. It's a hypothetical that's not even worth debating.
"It takes a long time to make a Dawnguard or a Dragonborn - it's not the kind of stuff you can just turn around in two weeks or three weeks. it's not that we're trying to put it out much later, we're willing to do it later, we're willing to continue to support it because we continue to believe there's a demand and an interest in that kind of stuff. We're not stalling for stalling's sake."
During our discussion, Peter also promised OXM that Bethesda would "push boundaries" and make "considerably more noise" in 2013, teasing us with the possibility of "new stuff" but refusing to say any more, even under combined duress from Ed and Jonty. So of course, ever-diligent Ed went and made a list of potential reveals anyway.
What do you think? Is Pete justified, or do you believe day one DLC is an inexcusably murky practice regardless of the reasons stated here?