Contributing writer for The Artifice.
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The Life and Legacy of Satoru Iwata
The video game industry suffered a tremendous blow over the weekend. Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata tragically passed away Saturday evening. He was 55.
Unlike much of the leadership of modern gaming companies, Iwata is first and foremost a gamer. Iwata has always been deeply involved in games, dating back to the 1980s, where he first started at Nintendo as a programmer. He was an important figure in classic titles like Kirby, Balloon Fight and Earthbound. In 2002, he became the fourth president and CEO of Nintendo.
It would be good to chronicle Iwata’s key contributions not only to the company, but to gaming as a whole. Specifically, many significant innovations in the industry were brought about from Nintendo during his leadership tenure.
On the flip side, there were several hurdles Nintendo faced over the years, such as the commercial underperformance of the GameCube and Wii U systems. You can also look at how Iwata worked hard to help the company as it struggled through these difficult times.
You should also talk about the plans for Nintendo’s future that Iwata set in motion before his untimely passing. The idea that Nintendo would ever bring its IP to mobile games would have likely been absurd to people in recent years.
Finally, as a fitting tribute to a gaming icon, you can mention the influence and inspiration he gave to millions of people. Many figures in the industry have paid their respects to Iwata since the news broke. Some of their anecdotes about their personal experiences with him and/or his work can be a great way to show the lasting impact he has had on video games.
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The state of downloadable-content (DLC) in the video game industry
Developer of the critically acclaimed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, CD Projekt Red, recently made headlines for its stance on downloadable content. The studio has been praised for its pro-consumer approach to a business practice that is usually surrounded with a negative stigma. They feel that small content – such as extra weapons, outfits, small quests and in-game items – should be offered for free, rather than at a premium. Projekt Red says that as gamers themselves, they understand that people are paying a lot of money for their product and want to reward the consumer as a result.
This raises a larger question about the state of DLC in modern gaming. Is it really such a bad thing?
Usually, gamers seem to feel that DLC is a cheap method of monetizing a game and gouging players for additional money on top of the large amount they already paid for the base game.
On the other hand, proponents of such premium content might argue that if done in a meaty, substantial way, DLC can be a meaningful incentive to prolong your enjoyment of a game you might otherwise stop playing. It also can give the developer ways to improve upon or expand what they did in the core, taking player feedback into account. It can also be used to experiment with new and creative ideas that may end up being used in future titles.
You could look at perceived "cash-grab" DLCs such as character skins, extra weapons, etc that are common in several genres such as FPS games.
In contrast, larger DLC content – additional story missions, characters, expansions, etc – are usually more positively received by the gaming masses.
You should talk about instances – like in The Witcher 3 – where DLC is done "right," and others where it is not.
On a broader more, it might also be good to compare the practices between many large gaming publishers – EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Warner Bros., Square-Enix, Bethesda and more.