Flushed with success after winning big at the GDC Awards, Supergiant Games' Greg Kasavin joined the growing group of developers to speak out against DLC and microtransactions. Interestingly, though, the Bastion developer had a very different complaint to the norm: that DLC completely breaks immersion and ruins the sense of atmosphere that games strive to create.
When asked about downloadable content during a GDC Panel, Kasavin bluntly argued that constantly asking the player for money reminds them that they're playing a game; breaking the fourth wall and scuppering the all important sense of immersion.
I think that's really tricky and a really tough problem. If your business goal is to make many bits of content and have in-games stores and stuff like that, I don't know how compatible that is to having an atmospheric experience. I think it's pretty tough.
I think when the game asks you to pay real money it's hard to make it atmospheric. In fact I've never played a game that has achieved that.
To illustrate his point, Kasavin pointed the finger at social games like Zynga's lineup, whose aggressive in-game advertising "shatters the fourth wall with a baseball bat."
Certain design decisions make achieving atmosphere virtually impossible. I can't imagine how somebody could have an atmospheric experience playing something like Mafia Wars 2. Because this is a game that is constantly prompting you to go and play a completely different game.
It's an interesting line to take in the DLC debate, and it's one we'd love to get your take on.