Yesterday we saw the discounting of select DLC packs on both the Xbox 360 and PS3 for this week, but as a few people have pointed out based on the nature of the way the sale is listed on the Xbox 360, this pricing initially appeared to be permanent. As the listing on the official PlayStation blog noted, the discount is only for this week, so a permanent drop in pricing doesn’t appear to be the case, but it does bring up an interesting discussion point.
We’re closing in fast on having 3,000 songs playable in Rock Band 3, which is a ridiculously absurd amount of music. And, when compared with every other game on the market, this is an even more ridiculous amount of DLC. With an occasional exception, every song is available individually, and most are also available in packs, so when we do reach 3,000 songs, there will be an even larger amount of available DLC (counting singles AND packs). I think @HMXHenry mentioned to me once that there are only a handful of “DLC completionists,” so the rest of us have “holes” in our DLC libraries. Here at RockBandAide, we try to encourage the exploration of older DLC for new players and for those who may have originally missed good songs through our Thursday Throwback feature. But that can only go so far.
We must not also ignore the huge “elephant in the room” fact that Rock Band (and Guitar Hero, obviously) isn’t the runaway cultural phenomenon that it used to be. It was huge when the economy was kicking ass and everyone had disposable income for a room full of plastic instruments, but that time has obviously passed. Most of the casual players have put their instruments in the closet or basement and long forgotten about weekly DLC releases. Only the most die-hard fans still wake up on Friday morning excited about the DLC announcement for next week. And shelling out 2 bucks for a song is a tougher sell than it used to be. When you compare the current Rock Band 3 DLC to older RB/RB2 legacy DLC, you get more bang for your buck now, which makes legacy DLC purchases a much less attractive proposition.
I did some quick research into it, and the ability to change pricing on existing DLC doesn’t appear to be a decision that typically rests in the hands of game developers, but rather in the hands of the respective consoles’ online stores. And based on other forms of digital music distribution, such as iTunes, this is the norm. For the most part, digital music pricing remains constant, regardless of the time since the music was originally released.
In a perfect world, DLC pricing would be something that Harmonix could change, but alas, this is not a perfect world. Ultimately it comes down to whether the discount in DLC would drive a larger volume of sales than the current DLC pricing structure, and as noted above, this decision rests in the hands of Xbox, Sony, and Nintendo. But if the price for RB/RB2 DLC songs dropped down to $.99, would you be picking up a large volume of tracks? Do you think it would be a good idea to discount existing Rock Band and Rock Band 2 DLC? Or would you feel “punished” for buying DLC years ago that others would now be able to get on the cheap?
Vote below, and let your voice be heard in the comments!