Dec 28 2015

A Rant on Downloadable Content

Downloadable Content. Intended as a way to expand the quality of a game after its initial release, many gamers see it as a bane of their gaming experience, often feeling it is nothing more than a way to milk more money out of the consumer who already spent $60 or more on their new game. Some people, however, do enjoy DLC, and don’t mind paying a premium for this additional content.

Now, where do I stand on DLC?

I’m mixed. At it’s core, I have no problem with the idea. As a game ages, adding content to keep it enjoyable is a great idea. The problem comes when the content is of low quality, or is overpriced, or worst of all, is both low quality and overpriced.

This, sadly, happens more often than not.

Many game developers want 10 to 20 dollars for map packs which may be fine for the hardcore player, but just aren’t worth it for someone like me who might play online only once or twice.

Some games offer additional characters for a few dollars each, which might not be so bad depending on, once again, if you will take advantage of this element of the game.

Then, comes games that pile on the DLC. Dead Or Alive 5, for example, has costume after costume for its characters which, i’m sure, totals into the hundreds of dollars just for outfits.

Dead Or Alive 5 features about 600 individual costumes, and while they are sold as bundles as well, they will still set you back and arm and a leg to own them all!

Dead Or Alive 5 features about 600 individual costumes, and while they are sold as bundles as well, they will still set you back and arm and a leg to own them all!

Of course, those things are optional, for the most part – the DOA outfits are purely cosmetic, and the map packs or characters aren’t required to enjoy the game, but not all games are like this.

Some games virtually require the DLC to be purchased to get the full experience and even worse, some games, like Destiny, are accused of actively taking away from the core game to push the expansion content, making it even more required to continue to enjoy what were base features of the game.

Then there are games like Evolve which are designed from the ground up to be nothing but DLC platforms – basically, there is a core game that exists only to be expanded upon with purchased content. Pretty scummy, if you ask me, but still, you can avoid the game knowing this. Odds are you aren’t missing out on much anyway.

Worst of all, to me, are those games that make you pay for the privilege of seeing the proper end to the story: Mass Effect 3 is notorious for it’s terrible ending which was “fixed” by making you pay for the ending as standard DLC, much to gamers outrage. Other games tie up story elements as later DLC, fleshing out the game story or world. Destiny could be accused of this as well, when you think about it. The original release was a mess, and in the expansions the Destiny developers seem to be trying to flesh out a world that, even I, as a fan of the game, will admit was very poorly explained in the initial release.

At least the Mass Effect 3 “extended cut” DLC is free – at least, now it is. I can’t recall if it was free when it was released, but that’s an aside. We could be here all day discussing these elements of DLC, but other gamers have discussed this subject to death on a case by case basis. I think most of us agree where the good, the bad, and the ugly lie with DLC.

My biggest issue with DLC is that the price is fixed for the life of the game.

Think about it – you go, and buy a game for $5 down at Gamestop. Great score, right? Let’s say you want the full experience. Guess what? You’re paying the $10 per DLC pack for whatever content it is. You’re paying the $15 for that map pack. You’re going to have to spend the $3 per character for a half-dozen post-release characters, just to have the complete experience.

Oh, sure, there are “Game of the Year” or “Complete Editions” of games, and those are great, but when you can’t get a hold of, or a version doesn’t exist, for a particular game, you’re stuck paying the difference and then some.

DLC prices should drop after a time period. Ideally, I feel DLC should wind up being free after a 2 year period. Why 2 years? Because that’s usually the point where a game has been replaced, or at the very least, all new content has stopped.

Destiny has a mix of Micro-Transactions, Major Expansions, and special purchases available. While pricey, at least the core expansions are solid content for the price.

Destiny has a mix of Micro-Transactions, Major Expansions, and special purchases available. While pricey, at least the core expansions are solid content for the price.

Generally this happens in the first year, and unless the game is a very special title, the price will usually drop used to below the DLC price, for most any given game. Why then should I spend more for a content pack like, let’s say, the DLC levels for Duke Nukem Forever, than I spent on the game itself?

In an ironic twist, some companies have actually given this content freely to game players after a time. I know Titanfall, on it’s 1st anniversary, set it’s DLC to free for all players – a wonderful way to give everyone the best experience in the game which, sadly, didn’t live up to it’s hype. This, I think, makes people want to play it more, which is awesome to me.

Another game this seems to have happened with is Borderlands. When playing on the Xbox One, I have access to all the DLC, and can play it as I wish. When playing on my 360, however, I have no access to this content. This is intentional, and while I like the idea that I can experience all of Borderlands without a paywall slapping me in the face, when I go back to playing the game on my 360 (which does happen, depending on my mood) I am left unable to access such without paying an additional $40 for the 4 content packs. Quite the mood killer, if you ask me.

The Borderlands DLC - $40 to "complete" the game experience when the base game only sets you back around $8

The Borderlands DLC – $40 to “complete” the game experience when the base game only sets you back around $8

The whole situation is just crazy to me. Some publishers aren’t even around anymore, yet the game DLC still sits there, the same price as it was when the game was released, in some cases nearly a decade ago. Who even gets that money anymore? Do companies even make much money off of DLC for games that are 3.. 5.. 7 years old? Why not reduce the price, or, again, make it free so that everyone can enjoy the game to its fullest?

I just don’t get it. I mean, I guess business practices, and their logic behind such, but I don’t get why companies think it is the better solution.

If you are going to release content later for the game, fine. If you are going to charge for that content, fine. Make the price worth it, cut the price as time goes on, so more people will want to buy it, but most importantly, make a quality game to begin with so people will actually want to spend the money on this bonus content.

I don’t care if it’s full price, half price, or free DLC. Make us want it. Make it worth whatever we spend, and know when to cut your losses. Give the gamers something to enjoy. That’s all I, or any of us, ask.

Oh, and on the subject of micro-transactions… don’t get me started. The same logic applies, but they are almost never done correctly – in virtually all cases they are made virtually mandatory, rather than optional. No. Just don’t do it.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.xadara.com/a-rant-on-downloadable-content/

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: