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Downloadable Content: A Blessing or a Curse?

Downloadable Content (DLC) has become all the rage for publishers and developers recently as a means of adding content to games after release either free or for purchase. This blog post will dive into whether DLC is a detriment or welcomed part of the video games we all love along with the positive and negative sides of DLC.

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As a gamer once you finish the main story campaign or spend countless hours on multiplayer you will find yourself tired of the experience being presented to you and want something new. Without DLC there are two options, either wait for the next release of the franchise or buy a different game.

Here are some of DLC’s positive points in regards to that problem.

1. Story/Single Player DLC – Why wait for the next iteration of your favorite franchise in 2 years when developers can give you additional missions or storylines to play between the gaps? DLC like this should be released over the span of the gap between the games and tie the two together and be a transition piece like Mass Effect 2’s Arrival DLC. The players get short but enjoyable tid-bits of their favorite game and the developers gain a slight boost in revenue between games. Developers can even go further and release full-fledged expansions to games that feel like their own separate game in their own way.

2. Multiplayer DLC – Every multiplayer game out there grows old over time. There is only so much excitement a player can have playing the same maps and using the same weapons match after match. Additional content whether it be maps, ranks, weapons, etc. through DLC(paid or free) for the most part is a good thing if done right and can prolong the life of a game’s multiplayer which helps both DLC buyers and those just picking the game up. Releasing multiplayer DLC shortly after release however is not a good common practice.

3. Free DLC – Everyone loves free stuff right? Developers that release free DLC such as CD Projekt(makers of The Witcher games) improve upon their games and even release free additional content after releasing a game. It might not sound like a great business practice at first, but in the eyes of those who buy your games it will have a beneficial lasting effect. Personally I am much more likely to recommend a game with superb support and a company that appreciates their customers over a company that nickel and dimes their customers for content.

4. Innovation – DLC can take a game in a direction that wouldn’t normally be attempted in a full fledged retail game. Whether this means adding some light-hearted and funny parts that surprises a player in DLC for a gritty hardcore game, simple bonus mini-games, Easter eggs, or game play changes. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Mass Effect 2’s DLC is a fitting example. Overlord, Firewalker, Normandy Crash Site, Arrival, and Lair of the Shadow Broker all tweaked the Mass Effect game play/story formula around and provided different experiences in game play while playing through them.

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On the other hand there are cases were DLC isn’t accepted with open hands by the game’s community. Price, timing, and quality all matter and sometimes it isn’t a good option to release DLC for a game.

Here are some negative points in terms of DLC.

1. On-Disc DLC – Some games release a game with locked content already on the purchased disc that requires the now owner of that disc to spend more money to unlock the contents. In no way is this positive thing for the video game industry other than publishers/developers looking to make a quick buck at the expense of their customers. Any content released on a disc or download for a game that is purchased should be unlocked and playable. Practices like this just anger consumers and makes people hate DLC.

2. DLC close to release date – This is slightly better than on-disc locked DLC however is still an abused practice that should come to an end. Any content that is being developed before the release of a game or content cut from the game should not be packaged up, labeled as “DLC”, and thrown out there within a month of a game’s release date. It just shows that the developers/publishers were either to lazy or greedy to put the content in the released game.

3. Unneeded DLC – DLC that is simply created “just because” always is a puzzle as to what were the developers thinking? Things such as horse armor in ES: Oblivion or character skins in Dead Space or Red Dead Redemption are blasphemy. That type of DLC should be small added Easter eggs or left out all together if they plan on charging for it.

4. Over Priced Content – DLC should remain in the $5-$10 price range unless if it is a full-fledged expansion to a game. Charging over $10 for something like 3-5 multiplayer maps is simply greedy; hell to me charging over $8 is greedy. It’s not like the developers have to build and entire game from scratch, they are simply going in and producing a small add-on (remember there is a different between normal DLC and an expansion) or map which takes much less resources.

5. Re-Re-Releasing the Same Bull**** - Games that release “classic” content such as a map like Desert Glory in Socom Confrontation or Overgrown in Call of Duty: MW2 usually either mess that legendary classic map/content up or just cut and paste it onto the new engine. There is a difference between bringing back a classic moment and simply a copy and paste job; just see Killzone 2’s Beach Head and Southern Hill DLC maps now that’s how you re-release content.

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Overall I enjoy most DLC and feel like it is a good aspect to gaming now that it can easily be distributed over the internet. However DLC lately has been turning less into extra content that is widely enjoyed by gamers and instead being twisted into a sour subject where DLC is already on a game’s disc, released right after release date, or simply is a pile a junk. I hope that DLC as a whole turns back away from the dark and gloomy road it is now barreling down on and turns back into worthwhile content that isn’t purely made to suck more money out of gamers.

Have your own opinion on how DLC should be?

And do you think DLC is a good thing or a bad thing in its current state?

Feel free to share below.

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coolbeans3552d ago (Edited 3552d ago )

The only problem I have is the black/white persona posters take on when it comes to determining what "Over-priced content" really is. Granted, CoD map packs from MW2 and Black Ops came in fives, and cost $15. But when you divide that up, you are getting more "value" (for the sake of the argument, let's not dive into quality of maps) with that deal then the typical 3 maps/$10 packs that came before it.

Personally, I liked DLC in its purest form, but the deplorable actions from certain publishers give me reason to believe the golden days are behind us. I'm not saying businesses shouldn't experiment in these ways if consumers give them reason to-be honest, this is capitalism. I guess my only problem with publishers comes down to one question: Why is it so easy for you to punish the average consumer, while rarely/never rewarding the loyal fanbase?

Good blog btw :)

C_Menz3552d ago

I agree, I think DLC is now viewed differently by the publishers and even developers to a point. Instead of seeing it as adding in quality bonus content it is merely there from a revenue point of view which is wrong. Not that they shouldn't make money off of DLC but it shouldn't be the driving force behind a DLC strategy for a game.

If they can fit all the content into the game come release that is great, but if they decide, "Oh but this mission in the game isn't absolutely needed for the main game, lets make it day one DLC!" Then that is completely bogus.

And thanks, I enjoy writing every now and then. Kind of hard to keep it somewhat short in length and I could write pages at times without noticing...

SilentNegotiator3551d ago (Edited 3551d ago )

$3 for a slightly modified SP campaign map doesn't do it for me, either. 3 in every 5 maps in COD suck anyway.

Meh, I see it as more bad than good. Capcom, EA, Activision....they've all been caught cutting content to sell to us for an added price.

Expansion that's the way to go. Leave the tiny additions as free extras (it's called fan service. SOME people still believe in rewarding loyal customers) and make us large expansions (AFTER finishing the main game) for $10-$20.

It's never going to happen, though, I know. Not when they can charge $15 for a few maps made entirely of recycled assets.

coolbeans3551d ago (Edited 3551d ago )

"$3 for a slightly modified SP campaign map doesn't do it for me, either."

That should be taken in a case-by-case basis, rather than a generalization, like you're doing.

Expansion packs for $10-$20? How can you expect any publisher to go for something of that magnitude at a smaller price than what they used to cost? It's even more preposterous to think that way when you're talking about a 100-man team tackling a new expansion pack in today's "it's either AAA or indie" business course and only costing that much.

Complaining about cost over assets sounds exactly like the "black/white persona" I mentioned in my first post. Judging DLC based on how much of the assets are recycled sounds like an arbitrary way to determine its value.

s45gr323552d ago

Very good blog what worries me is when games go fully digital how are we gamers going to know of locked dlc content that was already available for say game.

C_Menz3552d ago

That is a possibility. But it isn't really tied to being 100% digital since a lot of the PC gaming market is now completely digital/download(I download all my PC games now). And for a large part DLC isn't handled bad on digital games and free dlc/great patches are more frequent.

The problem is if the major publishers or console providers adopt that practice you mentioned(locked parts of a digital download). I hope it isn't the case but I won't be surprised if it happens.

Only way to stop it is for the consumers(us gamers) to not support the games that do this and show them we won't stand for it.

coolbeans3552d ago

Never thought of it that way. That could have disasterous results if publishers know this.

MrBeatdown3550d ago (Edited 3550d ago )

People will just have to start judging the value of a game by looking at what's included, rather than obsessing over what isn't.

I swear, a developer could offer gamers the most polished, innovative, content rich game they've ever played, but if one dollar's worth of DLC pops up on day one, that's all gamers will focus on, and they'll act like they are getting screwed.

QuodEratDemonstrandm3551d ago (Edited 3551d ago )

While on-disc DLC is ridiculous, it can be understandable. I'd put preorder bonus content on the disc. Then offer it for a dollar or two after the game has been out a few months.

C_Menz3550d ago (Edited 3550d ago )

Personally preorder bonuses are also crap, but in a way if that's what it takes for the game to make money and combat used games then its a necessary evil.

Pre-order bonuses I hate when there are like 6 different types for each retailer. It should be all the same or an online pass... Kind of odd that I hate the DLC scheme but don't mind online passes but I believe that the revenue should go to the developers and not second-hand retailers.

In the end once digital games are popularized and widely supported like they are on PC there won't be all these issues with pre-order bonuses or passes since you simply download them off of the PS Store or Xbox Live.

QuodEratDemonstrandm3550d ago

I don't care for the idea of different retailers offering different preorder incentives either. I even kind of think preorder dlc should be handled differently. One idea I had was the "[Coolest Latest Game] Week One Bundle." If you buy the game in the first week it's available then you can download some cool stuff. Pull the bundle after the game's been out a week then sell it for a dollar or two a couple months later.

Just a thought.

theeg3550d ago

shameless cash-in trash

dlc = Delibrately Leavingout Content

make an expasion pack with 20 or more hours of new gameplay with brrand new levels or piss off

you won't see me give some over-paid lard ass ceo of some mega conglomorite $5 for an in game gun or hat

95% of games are worth about $15 at most

a few, like Skyrim, The Witcher 2, Dark souls are actually worth $60

I'll like waiting for most games to hit $15 or less, thats about what most are worth

KMCROC543549d ago

I see it two ways a blessing for those that have no issue with extending a games life or doing extra missions, Quest. A curse for those that think everything made should be put into the game at no extra cost to them. cause in thier world they think thier one time buy of said game should last keep delvelopers afloat till the next release of another game & will cover all cost. (Me personaly if you can't afford it then learn to live without it & stop bitching about it like a bunch of whinny funts.)

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