Turtle Rock co-founder Phil Robb has appeared on the studio's forum to explain Evolve's DLC and pre-order strategy, which has upset a few people.
One core issue with the deal is that, in among all the talk about season passes and deluxe editions, there's a mention that pre-purchasing the Xbox One version of the game (not pre-ordering) instantly unlocks the third monster and a third tier of hunters in the upcoming beta, that you'd have to otherwise obtain through levelling up. Then there's the fractured options promising yet more additional monsters, hunters and skins. Plus, according to the released statement, the forth monster, the Behemoth, is DLC.
It's all a bit difficult to decipher, with the only clear message seeming to be that just buying 'the game' won't get you the full experience. You'll have to buy extras, packages, special editions and so on.
Obviously, people weren't happy on the Evolve forums. A thread entitled "Turtle Rock. Your Promise" cited the studio's mission's statement and expressed disappoint that the studio had changed from one that produced free DLC, to follow a "horrible money-grabbing reputation like Electronic Arts\Ubisoft".
Studio co-founder Phil Robb has since answered the thread, trying to appease fans and explain the business behind it. The short version is that, firstly, none of the DLC will be done when the game launches, so it's not on the disk. Instead, it's a way of funding further development and completing these ideas with an additional income budgeted from the DLC. The DLC will also avoid splitting the online community by letting people who don't have it, play games with those that do.
He also explains that while it's Turtle Rock's job to make the game, it has to trust the publisher to sell it and make those decisions. There's even a little background on the difference between making games as part of Valve and life since the studio went its own way: "we've had to leave the nice safe coral reef that was Valve and swim out into shark infested waters [...] trying to make great games in a very tough industry."
Here's the full message:
Thanks for the feedback. We appreciate hearing from you guys, as always.
Let me clear a few things up for you first...
A lot of folks seem to be under the impression that we've got all this content done and we shave off a hunk to sell separately. That just isn't the case. When Evolve hits the shelves, none of the DLC will be done. Behemoth won't be done. None of the planned DLC hunters or monsters will be done. The only exception to this might be some skins that were working on now while we wait for all the final stages of packaging, manufacturing etc. to finish.
If we thought we could have finished all those monsters and hunters for ship we would have put them in the box. (Keep in mind, we pretty much have to have the game done about 2-3 months before it's available to you guys...we can keep fixing bugs and such, but content is locked.) The bundles that include 4th and 5th monsters, hunters, etc., just mean that when they are done and we put 'em out, you get 'em.
Hunters and monsters are a pretty big undertaking, they cost a lot of money and time to make. We're hoping that once people see how much new hunters and monsters bring to the game that they'll feel like they got their money's worth.
As we got closer to finishing Evolve we ended up with designs for a bunch of monster and hunters that we just didn't have the time and money to make. Instead of throw them all out, why not put together a budget to make them as DLC? Means more content for the people who love the game and want more. It also means all those ideas get to see the light of day. Oh yeah, and it means more work for TRS and we can keep paying our bills and making cool stuff!
That's all well and good...but our number one rule for DLC is never split the community. Never.
So we worked it out so that any DLC maps are free, any new game modes are free. Then, recognizing that not everyone wants to buy DLC, we made sure that even if you didn't purchase any of the paid content, you could still play with people who did! So if I buy a new monster or hunter, and you don't, we can still play together. You may not want to buy it, but your original purchase of the game will be enhanced by it anyway because you can still get into games with people who wanted to buy them. Hell, you can even set the DLC characters and monsters up as opponents in solo games.
Boom! Your game experience is enhanced, no purchase necessary. Obviously, we hope you like the DLC enough to buy it, but no hard feelings if not. We're still happy that you bought Evolve!
And NO, we won't be purposely making DLC hunters and monster overpowered to make people feel like they HAVE to buy them to stay competitive. We plan to keep things as balanced as possible for as long as people are playing the game.
What has changed about Turtle Rock from the old CS L4D days?
Well, we've had to leave the nice safe coral reef that was Valve and swim out into shark infested waters. (Pardon the analogy.) Working with Valve was a truly unique experience, not perfect, but definitely had its advantages in that they work at their own speed and largely on their own terms. They can do that because they have Steam and are more or less a privately owned company. (No stock market and all that goes with it.) Steam is so successful that it allows them to approach game development from an angle that no-one else in the game industry can, and working with them back then imparted those benefits to us by association.
It helped that in the L4D days, we were never bigger than 13 people. The industry has changed since then and we've had to grow a lot. We're sitting at about 90+ at the moment (which is still considered small) and still growing. I like to think we're still the same down to earth guys we were then, trying to make great games in a very tough industry.
The bundles are options, nothing more. IF you plan to buy all that stuff anyway then you can get a bundle with all that content at a discount. Not a new concept, businesses have been doing that since money was invented. I've bought passes for games where I felt burned and I've bought passes for games and was happy with my purchase. But that's a personal choice, as is any purchase. All of those different tiers are there to provide options.
Ultimately, TRS makes the games, we don't sell them...and as the developers we've done our best to make a game that people want to play. We then have to trust our publisher to make the best decision on how to sell that game. We've done everything we could to keep this stuff as open to choice as possible and despite how it may look to some, there isn't anything here that forces people to spend more money than they are comfortable with. We feel like all of the Evolve bundles that 2K announced just offer people choices, and having choices isn't a bad thing.
[Turtle Rock. Your promise - turtlerockstudios.com]