With internet connectivity at an all time high, video game developers increasingly have used downloadable content (DLC) to “add” content to games post-launch. Whether or not DLC adds value to a game is still up for debate on an individual basis. Are developers launching incomplete games only to fill in the gaps in story and content at a later date? Are game companies taking advantage of the addictive nature of video games to turn a profit? If the answer is yes, than the real price of video gaming becomes much more expensive.
So how did DLC come into existence?
Modern day DLC is the child of game mods and corporate profit. In the early days of PC gaming users would create game maps and mods which would be shared freely on the internet to add content to games. Some of our first “DLCs” were expansions to online games such as WOW or Guild Wars. Sounds good right? The original Xbox took the first real step in the console market toward the internet through Xbox Live.
Is DLC good or bad?
With each generation of consoles, gaming companies continue to move toward DLC being a standard part of AAA games.From camo-skins to new continents and stories, DLC gives gamers a chance to expand upon the game. This transition away from games ever being truly finished has various effects on the quality of games produced. A current example of a game not being finished at launch, as stated on our podcast, is Final Fantasy 15. In its first free update FFXV is adding story content to the game’s rushed ending – expanding upon the motivations of characters.
An example of a developer that does not do DLC well is Activision. Black Ops 3 was initially an awesome game. From what I understood in the beginning supply drops were only supposed to be used for additional cosmetic options. Within a few months Activision had added weapons to the supply drop system and allowed for players to purchase a “Special Currency” to open supply drops. These weapons from supply drops gave advantages to those who were willing to drop cash to grind them out of supply drops. Infinite Warfare has followed suit with a similar feature. I cringe at thinking about how many children took their parent’s credit cards and racked up a huge bill while the children sought after the at-random prize of one of the guns. It is pay-to-win and many of us hate it.
An example of a developer that consistently does DLC well is Bethesda. Fallout and elder scrolls consistently adds content with substance. Automatron and the other expansion in Fallout 4 adds missions and content that still feels balanced with the rest of the game. It’s additional content is not patchwork on the story or a money-making-pay-to-win scheme like Activision.
What can we do about it?
The answer is simple but many aren’t willing to follow it. Stop buying video games with these money-sucking features. Don’t pre-order games. Wait for reviews to tell you whether or not they finished the game, whether they suck. BE AN INFORMED CONSUMER NOT A BLIND FOLLOWER. I can’t sit here and say that I follow this all the time but I can tell you that I have gotten much better about preordering and waiting for reviews. We live in a market economy and, as long as that’s true, businesses will do whatever they can to make a profit.