Opinion: Don't Fuse Zelda Breath of the Wild's DLC into a Season Pass, Nintendo

Opinion: Don't Fuse Zelda Breath of the Wild's DLC into a Season Pass, Nintendo

So I have to buy the Cave of Trials and new Hard Mode if I just want more story content? Awww come onnn...

Watching Nintendo adapt to the 21st century games market has been like watching a toddler take its first steps. It's fascinating, it's inspiring, and it's nerve-wracking because it always feels like you're two seconds away from witnessing the toddler screw up and cartwheel down the stairs.

So far, Nintendo has mostly done OK with modernizing itself. Its mobile offerings range from solid to great, and its DLC for Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS is a lot of fun (Cloud's reveal trailer still gives me the shivers).

Nintendo's DLC has generally been meaty and priced fairly. There was that one weird incident with Mario Kart 8's Mercedes-Benz crossover, but that was a free option so I don't really hold it against Nintendo. Besides, now I can make jokes about how Mario's got the Mercedes-Benz and a lot of pretty, pretty boys he calls friends.

I'm not 100% down with the direction Nintendo is going in for its Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC, though. I'm OK with Nintendo making DLC for the game, and I don't think $20 USD is too much money for the stuff on-tap (which includes a handful of exclusive items, new challenges, a new dungeon, and new story content). I'm less enthused about the fact you have to buy all this DLC as a $20 bundle.

"The Expansion Pass will be available for both the Nintendo Switch and Wii U versions of the game and are identical," states the official notice for the DLC on Nintendo's Breath of the Wild website. "Content packs cannot be purchased individually."

I'm not anti-DLC by a long shot. I kind of wish we had DLC when I was a kid playing the likes of Chrono Trigger and I agonized over Schala's ambiguous fate at the bottom of the Ocean Palace (even though we eventually found out). While there's a fairy-tale finality to finishing a cartridge-based game and putting it on your shelf, it's also a sad moment.

DLC makes sense from a financial standpoint, too. Breath of the Wild took years to develop, and no doubt it wasn't cheap. If Nintendo can recoup part of that expense with a content infusion, I'm fine with that.

I'm less fine with being asked to pay for all that content in a big, inseparable wad. It's not that I think $20 is an unfair asking price; it's the principle of the thing. Story-related content and challenge-related content are two very different animals. I predict I'll be interested in playing through more of Breath of the Wild's story, but I already know I'm not going to be interested in its challenge dungeon or "new hard mode." I rarely play through games a second time on harder settings. I just don't have that kind of time, and the rewards never feel fulfilling for the effort. Playing through a game's story is usually far less labor-intensive, and as a storyteller myself, participating in the myth and lore of Hyrule is a privilege I'm willing to pay for.

If Nintendo wants to offer its bundle in addition to separate content packs, that's fine. If I decide later that I want to pay separately for both updates, the added expense of buying outside the bundle is my own lookout. The important thing is that I have the choice. Unfortunately, we don't have that choice because Nintendo stands to make more money by forcing Zelda fans of all stripes to buy the DLC in a bundle.

And here's the thing: I probably will shell out the $20 for the DLC because I want that story content. I'll do it, even though the transaction will surely leave a bad aftertaste. Sure, other publishers have sinned far worse with their season passes, but to go back with my opening simile, it'd be best if Nintendo didn't start picking up every bad habit from the rough crowd it's forced to run with in this market. But I guess Nintendo is gonna Nintendo. Same as it ever was.

Here's hoping Nintendo decides to peel the two DLC packs apart and sell them separately, anyway. We're still pretty excited about Breath of the Wild.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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