There’s a time when people must come to realize that some things are here to stay. There not just going to get up and walk away within the next year. Downloadable Content (DLC) is one of those things. It’s here to stay.
I know, I know, DLC can suck sometimes. It means more money that’s coming out of your pocket for a game and that some developers (like EA) will take advantage of it and make you pay for things you shouldn't be paying for. Other times, DLC can bring you things most developers would have never made for their game otherwise, like for instance versus mode in Resident Evil or zombie map packs for Call of Duty: World at War.
Some publishers need to learn how to handle DLC better, but I’m sure in time they well realize that it needs to be worth the money their making you pay for it, but until then, the consumers need to show them what’s not worth it and what is. It’s better to spend 7 bucks on Wardens Keep for Dragon Age, than spending 2 bucks for horse armor on Oblivion. Yes, the Wardens Keep came out for Dragon Age on day one, but at least it adds to the story and gives you a storage box, unlike the horse armor, which wasn't even a fashion statement for the poor horse.
There are a few developers that will go the extra mile to give us great DLC, that’s worth the price, like the DLC for Burnout: Paradise, Fallout 3, and LittleBig Planet (the level packs at least). Than there’s other games like Assassins Creed 2, Dead Space and ect. that are not going that extra mile. That’s when, consumers like us, have to put our money where our mouth is.
Criterion had a good thing going, when they decided to release a bunch of free updates for Burnout: Paradise months after the game was released, than releasing DLC you had to pay for. It showed Criterion cared about its community and gave Burnout: Paradise tons of things to do to keep you playing Burnout for months and months after it came out, but the DLC they released didn't make what it should have. That’s because people want more now, otherwise they ether forget about the game, loose interest in it or have already traded it for a newer game. People don’t want to wait so long for more content.
I was one of those people. I just couldn’t get myself to support Criterion, even after all the support they gave their fans. I didn’t have the time or want to play Burnout: Paradise anymore. It was in the past, and I was too busy playing other games, like Resistance 2 or LittleBig Planet.
Developers notice things like that and will take better care to make sure they get content out sooner, by planning ahead, even before their games are released, to give the consumer more, because that’s what they want. That’s the way DLC is and will be, from this generation of consoles and beyond, DLC will be with us, mocking us like a crow mocks a dying rabbit.
This is the age of downloadable content and that will not ever change. You must either pay the price or miss out on what is offered.
Reader Questions: What’s the best DLC you have bought? What’s the worst DLC you’ve bought? Do you buy DLC often or not very often? What must DLC have to make it a purchase or a pass? How much have you spent on DLC?
I don't spend much money on DLCss, they are often too expensive and made while they could be included in the retail game. Until several months, I used to buy every LittleBigPlanet DLC (including the $4.99 collector T-shirt that released in the first week of the game) because Sony sent me several PSP and PS3 games for free, and so I thank them buying DLC of first-party games.
Guitar Hero and Rock Band games swarm because of that DLC fashion, as long as people buy their games and their DLC there will be GH / RB games. Just like FIFA, PES, NBA, Madden, Tony Hawk games, they belong to a perpetuate cycle. The day they will cease to exist will be the day they will replace it by another but similar franchise. And so DLC wont cease to release and I expect more and more practices oriented to DLC.
We've seen with Siren Blood Curse and Fable 2 (and soon Heavy Rain) that games could be set in episodic DLC and it is possible with the democratization of digital downloads that games become oriented like that. Or we can think about a DLC-only game, so you have a game you can have for $30, but you have very basic stuff in this game and it wont be enough to finish it. So you'll have to buy weapons, vehicles, armors, perks, etc...
We can also imagine something similar to MMOs, you pay a game by the time you spend on it, for example 5$ per hour. So you play it, globally you finish it in 10 hours so it will cost you 50$, and if you play more you'll pay more. Games like Call of Duty or Halo can be very profitable in that way, and gamers may not consider it too much as they only pay for what they play.
Going back to the blog's content, I really appreciated Criterion for their efforts. They kept supporting their game with free updates, they added very interesting stuff, such as night / day cycle, they even enhanced visually the game while they could not do anything. And for this, even though I didn't need it, I bought all their DLC.
But when you see Fallout 3 for example, that releases 5 DLC that cost each $10, then for the game and the DLC you pay for more than $100, that really too much. I loved Fallout 3, it was the first game I completed at 100% on Xbox 360, but $50 to play more is just too much (and hopefully this Christmas I had a bunch of extra MS points and Microsoft dropped the price of every DLC so I bought them, but if there wasn't that price drop I would never have bought them).
Assassin's Creed 2 DLC actually looks promising. They are full additions to the game and are relatively cheap at $4 and $3 a piece.
I like this paragraph:
"Developers notice things like that and will take better care to make sure they get content out sooner, by planning ahead, even before their games are released, to give the consumer more, because that’s what they want. That’s the way DLC is and will be, from this generation of consoles and beyond, DLC will be with us, mocking us like a crow mocks a dying rabbit."
That's exactly how it will be - the best way to make money out of DLC is to release it soon after the game releases so people are still interested. But that means basically cutting out portions of the main game so you can charge extra for it - hence why we see DLC that's already on the disk.
I think that LBP has the most intelligent DLC system - if you're a creator and want the new tools or stickers, you have to purchase them. But your level will still get played, because everyone can play it regardless of whether they bought the DLC or not. Even though they charge too much for costumes, they've managed to create a DLC system where it doesn't isolate any segment of the community.
What’s the best DLC you have bought?
I'd have to say Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony - it's absolutely top class and surpasses the main game in many ways.
What’s the worst DLC you’ve bought?
Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage - while it wasn't awful DLC it was very short and tended to stick to the weaknesses of Fallout 3's game mechanics (the combat) and not the strengths (role-playing).
Do you buy DLC often or not very often?
Not that often - All DLC I've purchased has been purchased in the last year or so, so I'm relatively new to it.
What must DLC have to make it a purchase or a pass?
It must be DLC for a game I especially like, and it must be substantial enough DLC that it makes me want to play the game again for enough time to cover the cost - something that unfortunately hasn't always happened.
How much have you spent on DLC?
Let me see; here is a list of all DLC I have purchased (Chronologically where I can remember):
Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage - 800 MSpts
Fallout 3: The Pitt - 800 MSpts
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost & The Damned - 1600 MSpts
Fallout 3: Broken Steel - 800 MSpts
Forza Motorsport 3; Holiday Car Pack - 400 MSpts
Borderlands; The Undertome - 800 MSpts
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony - 1600 MSpts
And that's about it - altogether totally 6800 MSpts. I buy MSpts in 2100 prepaid cards - at £17 each. Calculating that would mean I have spent approximately £55.05 on DLC, and I have 800 pts in my account ready to but The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned for Borderlands, which is another £6.50 or so. I don't see this spending as too much, as the price I have paid for all my DLCs reaches the price of around 1 and a half games. Considering I have spent 40-50 hours on these DLCs (in total) with some of them still not complete, it seems well worth it and I shall continue to purchase quality DLC packages.
I hate the idea for DLC unless we're talking FULL expansions, like in Warhawk on PS3. DLC should be game changing, not just more of the same, stuff that wasn't finished for retail, a key to unlock something already on the disc or just a few maps. I hardly buy DLC at all, in fact I don't think I have brought DLC for ANY of my retail games.
However, I defend downloadable games, such as PSN, XBLA and WiiWare games. What a fantastic generation, the choice of games is excellent, if only there were more platformers and original puzzle games, I'd say this gen is perfection.