DLC: Good, bad or EVIL?

Everyone who comes here who has a current gen system knows that downloadable content is a fact of life now. Almost every game that comes out has a DLC of some form or another, and it usually costs money for it too… But should some DLC be free no matter what? Should we have the right to try it before we buy it? There are some things that we should be asking for when it comes to DLC and our wallets.

I have a list of rules I would love to see implented for DLC on the PS3 and XBOX 360. It’s a short, simple list, but it makes sense.

Reasons DLC should be free

DLC should be free, atleast the first one or two items for download if small. If it’s a couple of new weapons or abilities with a little bit of content, make it free. If it’s a  map or two that should have been on the disk, make it free. There is nothing worse than having a game come out and then less than 3 months afterwards having a DLC pack come out that should have been on the disk, especially if the makers stated that they intended to have this content on the disk but didn’t have time to implement it or include it.

If the game has a large fanbase and you’ve already made truckloads of cash (*cough*Infinity Ward*cough*) and you know that there are more than one or two packs in the pipeline, make the first few free. Or do what Bungie was going to do, make the previous ones free once the new ones come out. I’ve yet to see the Legendary map pack become free, but it’s not our choice.

If the DLC doesn’t add more than 5 hours of gameplay don’t charge for it. I’m tired of games being released, enjoying the game, then a DLC comes out that adds a mission or two but it’s only an hour or so worth of gameplay in the single player and it costs money… WTF? It added a few new guns, a new vehicle, and maybe a map or two for online that nobody really plays seriously? Really? Why did you do this to us? Unless the guns breaks the game in ways that it makes the game different, maybe charge for it. If the game has map creation for online or even single player, don’t charge people money for map packs! Far Cry 2 added three new guns and four new official maps for the game and anyone who bought the maps didn’t like them, the seemed to be extraneous when you have a full blown map editor included in the game.

The final reason some should be free is exactly what Real Time Worlds did with Crackdown. Crackdown was released and once it had been out for a few months they released a map pack that added new skins, guns and vehicles (one free and one paid), but they released a mini development tool system for the gamer to mess around with called Keys to the City and it made a game that was boring and sitting on our shelves worthwhile and fun to play again… And it was free. The fact that Real Time Worlds knew the game was boring once beaten and they fixed the issue with this neat addition. I’m now currently waiting for Crackdown 2 and I am hoping that the new development team releases the new Keys for free too.

Reasons for Paid DLC

As stated above, if the DLC doesn’t add much to a game, don’t pay for it. But here are the reasons why I would pay for more game through downloadable content. I would purchase extra missions that are worthwhile and not hashed together or rushed out the door. If the missions are involving, unique, and add to the story, I get them when I have the cash (Gears of War 2), I get them. If it’s map packs that are not just reskin of an old map (*cough*Infinity Ward*cough*) and three new maps, but only one of them I liked (Creek rocked). I do not purchase them to get just the achievements either, if that was the case, I’d have a lot of money wasted on games that some people don’t play online.

Demos or small samples of DLC the answer?

Real Time Worlds had a good idea when it came to the map packs; letting players who have it already play it if they don’t. That’s what fueled my desire to purchase the paid DLC for Crackdown, and it is a feature I think that most if not all games should have if it’s DLC that’s for online games. I know that companies want to make money on the games and the DLC that comes out, but I would like to actually play the map packs before buying them to see if they are worth it or not… I’ve been burned too many times because several people have said that such and such map pack kicks ass, and it does nothing it make me happy after being excited and purchasing it… Only to hate the new maps.

The new marketing scheme in the gaming and software business is to make the core product and keep making money by including DLC for said product. It’s all optional of course, but if you don’t have the newest map pack you won’t be able to play with yoru friends online… So this is what I would like to see: You have the right to download the DLC for the game and use it for a set number of times or for  a certain time period. Once the limit is up, you get to decide if you want to purchase it at the time, and if there are achievements tied into said content, you get them unlocked once you purchase the DLC.

I don’t like being nickel and dimed to death in my games and alot of the DLC that comes out is mostly leave it on the shelf unless you truely love said game to death. Out of all the DLC that I have paid for the best was so far the Crackdown and Call of Duty 4 content. I hated the reskin of Carenteen, but I always hated that level in COD2. It was just a junk map that shouldn’t have been used no matter what. But DLC for some people is a matter of pride and loyalty to a brand, others its a point of hatred.

For some, it is a death sentence for work. I have  a friend whom has lost out on the used game business of his because the newly available titles on the Wii Shop, PSN Network, and XBOX Live Arcade is decreasing the value of older games and even entire systems. These are games that still have physical copies available, some even sealed and never opened. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was selling for over three hundred in the market he sold in, but the price dropped to a quarter of that once the game was available on XBLA and PSN Networks as DLC. Final Fantasy VII in some places was going for over a thousand dollars in the original “black label” cases, open and used! Then about two months ago the industry dropped dead almost over night. He sold what he could, gave away alot of it, and keeps dreaming of returning to selling used games…

The next gen systems might not have a disk format, it might be all downloadable content. I for one need the thrill of going to a store, picking out the game from a shelf and holding it in my hands. Then going home and smelling the new game smell (anyone else love the smell of new games?) when you crack it open. The act of physically owning a copy of a game for me atleast is a psychological pleasure that I love. I love looking at my shelf and seeing the massive amount of titles that I have off and on, it’s a way of visualizing your income, your hobby. But if DLC becomes the norm, and the game industry pushes for digital distrubition instead of hard copies in stores; this could lead to problems.

The problems of DLC or Digital Distrubition only games

The biggest issue that I can think of is once you’ve  bought the title, you own it and no one else can. You can’t take it to a game store or sell it to a friend who wants it but can’t afford a new title (I know, I know, this is a topic for an entire article: game trading bad or good for industry). You can’t get anything out of the title if you don’t like it, it’s a waste of money. Of course if it goes DLC or DD only, the prices might drop for games, but that is just pure speculation.

The second issue is do you own the game or the rights to play that game? If you just have digital copies of games on your hard drive, do you own it? I feel when I have an XBLA or DLC I don’t really own it, I feel like I have the rights to play it on my machine and my machine only. Too bad if I just want to take my hard drive to a friends house to show him what Duke 3D is like, I have to cart the whole system over because he doesn’t have the internet. The biggest issue with this is it’s Data Rights Management systems that cause gamers to get upset and not buy titles from companies on the PC. Spore is a great example of this, gamers not liking the DRM rules of installation and playing a game, and EA getting bitten for it.

The final reason why DD and DLC is wrong to me is this: What will gamers who don’t have the internet do? Can they get a disk based copy or burn it to a disk to install on their systems? Or are they completely SOL when it comes to playing the next XBOX or PlayStation? I know that most of the world is accessable in some way or form to the internet, but what about the ones who truely cannot get to an internet source to download and purchase these games and content? Will the system have to have a constant connection to the internet to even play the games or can you play them offline?

I know that I’d be more than upset if I couldn’t play the next gen system because of not having access to the internet, either at all or to even just download the games. I know that people might not be worried about this, but since I’m in college for game art and design, I have to worry about this kind of thing, it could affect my future prospects of getting into the industry.

But overall DLC if its worth it to you, get it. I’m not telling you to not download DLC or games, but keep in mind that it might not be the wisest choice out there if you like to own physical copies of your games.

Article from Gamersyndrome.com

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6 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Seriously DLC should be free if its small content packs like patches and some small weapons upgrades.. these bullsh0t DLC that charge money for a few small upgrades and DLC paid only upgrades are junk, if your going to charge you better make it good 🙂

  2. Why can’t DLCs be offered in demo mode so if someone is interested in buying it, they can at least make an informed decision. It just ticks me off when I spend money on something and then it turns out to be something that I didn’t want afterall. Like Gamer Syndrome said, if you’re going to charge, it better be good.

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