Doom 3: BFG Edition came out last week, and by all accounts, it’s quite good. id Software’s HD remastering of the decade-old PC game looks fine and includes one of the most-requested fixes for any of the company’s shooters, namely the inclusion of a flashlight that’s always on rather than inexplicably put in a space marine’s pocket when he needs a gun. With the full releases of Doom, Doom 2, and those games’ various expansions as well, this should be the definitive version of the game. “Definitive” isn’t a redeeming quality for collectors and completists though. BFG Edition won’t be enough for that obsessive Steam user that needs the authentic experience of everything. Tough luck for them, though: The original Doom 3 is now prohibitively expensive for them.
Eurogamer reported on Tuesday that anyone that wants the original Doom 3 experience on Steam will have to cough up £76, around $121, for the privilege. That’s because the game is only available now as part of the 24 game package called the Super id Software Pack.
Prior to BFG Edition’s release, this wasn’t the case. A number of options were out there, including a vanilla Steam download of the game for $20, as well as the Doom 3 Pack, which includes expansion Ressurection of Evil, for $25. There was also the BFG Edition-like Doom Pack Complete which had all the same goodies with the exception of an HD-ified Doom 3. All of those downloadable options have since been removed from the store.
Some Steam users are miffed about the change. The BFG Edition is more expensive than these other options at $30, but that’s not what’s rankled some Steam users. The problem is that the Steam version of BFG Edition doesn’t support the many, many mods made for the original version of the game over the past eight years.
id Software parent Bethesda didn’t comment on the issue, but it doesn’t really need to. It’s limiting the digital retail access to an aged product in order to better promote the new product. At the same time, the decision to halt sales of an old version of a game with a mod community, however small, surrounding it illuminates the ongoing problem of preserving video games. Digital re-releases of old games isn’t usually tricky when the originals aren’t commercially available any more, but we’re approaching a period when many re-releases will still be available as downloads. When that’s common, how will publishers adapt? Will they limit access like Bethesda or come up with new pricing models?