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11:17 AM on 04.09.2010

DLC: A Gift or a Marketing Ploy?

DLC (short for downloadable content) serves as an extension to the contentof the game found on the original purchased copy. The most common examples of DLC are multiplayer maps and additional chapters for a gameís campaign, though less significant options can still be offered through this method, such as character skins. This additional content can be purchased for a small fee or even given away by the developers in an effort to lengthen a gameís legs. If done correctly, DLC will keep gamers coming back for more, ensuring positive word of mouth and a stronger interest in a developerís future projects.

Although itís not a relatively new concept, DLC has picked up tremendous momentum within the current console generation. The service method has earned the accumulative industry more than 100 million in 2009 alone. Itís also substantial enough for EA to have planned out DLC release schedules for every single one of its upcoming games in 2010.

The success of DLC has lead to the current problem, though. By becoming such a profitable concept, game companies have begun offering content that some consumers find questionable. Resident Evil 5ís multiplayer component, for example, was offered as DLC a few months after the game was released. However, the file download size was less than 2 MB, raising concerns towards the fact that consumers were paying to access content they already physically owned. It was later confirmed that the download truly was just a key to unlock content that was already on the disc.

While Resident Evil 5 still stands as one of the most outrageous examples, other developers have released similarly off-putting content for their titles. Bethesdaís infamous horse armor for Oblivion became a prime example of trivial DLC. Assassinís Creed IIís storyline, however, made a reference to a chapter later offered through DLC. The developers simply blocked off the in-game area involved until the consumer purchased the ďadditionalĒ content. Prince of Persia (2008)ís DLC was even widely considered as the gameís true ending.

With developers offering multiple installments of DLC for a single game, a second problem is created for the consumers; the Game of the Year edition. Any consumer who has bought a blockbuster game on the day of its release has likely felt the sting of repackaged content; a year after their purchase, the same game they paid full price for is re-released, available with more content at half the price that they paid.

Personally, a gameís inclusion of DLC has become nothing more than a sign for me to wait it out. Paying full price for a game makes no sense to me when I can simply be patient and get a better, more complete offer a year later. Regardless of the staffís actual gratitude, I receive no benefits for supporting them early as a consumer. Oddly, it only results in me getting ripped off.

I find this to be a shame, as I think the central concept of DLC is brilliant. Supplying gamers with the option of more content if they wish to pay for it is completely fair and something Iíve repeatedly supported through Rock Band. When developers blur the line between offering extra content and purposely holding back content to be sell it separately at a later date, however, Iím no longer on interested.   read

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