“Dtoid Community Discusses!” Part 1: Downloadable Content
Hey everyone! The new year brings many things…we get older, make resolutions we can’t keep, and we start a new blog series!
I present to you, Dtoid Community Discusses!
I loved reading the Destructoid Discusses! Blogs that Dyson would often post where the editors had a riveting and sometimes off topic discussion. The plan for this blog series is very similar: a rotating panel of community members will discuss a different topic back and forth for about a week via email, and then I will take our conversations and place them here for everyone to read every other week. For the inaugural blog, the topic is Downloadable Content, and the panel are 4 super amazing community members: BunnyRabbit22, CountingConflict, DJDuffy, and Ub3rslug!
I hope you enjoy this panel!
I dont know about you all...but the state of DLC has gotten out of hand. Back in the day, there was no such thing as DLC. The game you bought at the store was the game you played....and that was it. Nowadays, if a game DOESN'T have DLC, we think we are getting the shaft!
My question to you is this: What are some examples of DLC done right? When has DLC gone horribly wrong? How did we end up relying on DLC for enjoying our games, and is it really a step in the right direction? It's hard to argue that it is. Sure we have get great new additions to games, but it also seems sometimes we get unfinished games that charge us to get things right.
What say you, panel?
The original console DLC business model (i.e. Halo 2 map packs mostly) provided consumers with a relatively cheap way to extend the lifespan of a game. Most DLC was sold in packages that added a significant amount of new gameplay experiences for the consumer. In most aspects, it was very similar to the PC market's "expansion pack" business model. This model was more consumer-centric and offered a positive experience for both the player (a considerable amount of new gameplay) and the publisher ($$$). While there certainly are many publishers who still adhere to this type of model for their DLC, most publishers have diverged from that trend.
When whispers of the "Next Gen" consoles began to surface in the gaming community, one buzz word was inexplicably attached to most rumors. "Microtransactions". This business model had originally garnered significant success (in the gaming industry) within most free-to-play MMORPGs. A dollar for an outfit, three dollars for a new sword, or a few bucks to change your characters sex. Publishers had sucessfully eliminated the sticker shock that was associated with the PC-expansion DLC model, only charging a menial sum for something that would (or should) alter the way a game looks or plays. The microtransaction model works, because most people are willing to spend a couple bucks before they would spend 20-30 bucks on a full expansion. Downloadable content, such as individual tracks for Rock Band and Guitar Hero, turn a relatively short game into a perpetual gaming experience.
Well, DLC has been pretty good because when done well (See Burnout Paradise, Crackdown, Mercs 2 and Halo as a few examples). It can add such an amazing amount to the game and, even though some of it costs money, it can be worth it a lot of the time. I think that DLC is definitely a good thing, especially because it is one area where the consumer has a little more pull in what goes than they might have with retail games because if something isn't bought because of it having a stupid price or being shit (Like some of the Dead Space stuff and I guess some of the LBP stuff too) then companies will want to avoid doing that kind of thing again because the consumers didn't care for it.
On top of this, without DLC I am sure Rock Band and Guitar Hero would not be enjoyed by people anywhere near as much because we would be stuck with the on disc games and whatever expansions they brought out instead of being able to pick and choose what songs we buy on top of the disc songs. In other words, I LOVE YOU HARMONIX, I WANT TO HAVE YOUR BABIES!
Like some of you have mentioned, DLC is a two way street. Rock Band to me is what is right about DLC. They have the perfect structure for weekly added content that is reasonably priced. Rock Band downloadable content also really extends the experience of the game well beyond what is on the game disc. There is just so much DLC for Rock Band that it really gives the consumer choice in their tastes in music. It is a very well oiled machine, but it is not perfect. The one thing I could really see the Rock Band franchise improving, is being about to play a song online with a friend that does not own the song yet. It can get frustrating when you've downloaded all of these amazing song and you go to play them with your friends online, only to realize you can't because they don't own them too. I am nitpicking the system, but this is definitely my biggest pet peeve with the system.
Don't get me wrong, I love DLC. Getting the new Halo Maps, or some popular songs on Rock Band for a fraction of the cost of a whole new game is great, but some companies just don't understand what DLC is perfect for. New Maps? Sure, bring it on. An extra dungeon, side-quest or game mode? Awesome, more fun for me. In game level-ups, or items that are already on the disc? (Tales of Vesperdia/Beautiful Katamari) Sorry guys, you are doing it wrong. But for every bad example of DLC, there is a shiny counterpoint to kick you in the crotch with its win. Burnout Paradise released DLC allowing for bikes (a whole new mode of play), new cars and various other goodies. For free! I'm not sure if it's too late to ask this, but what is everyone's opinion on how much price factors into how good a DLC pack is? Free is always good, and the cheaper the better, but it definitely depends on the game/what is in the pack for me. However, I'm not about to spend 1600 MS points on some minor updates.
One thing that drives me nuts about DLC is map packs. To some degree, you could argue that this is no different from downloading the latest Rock Band song pack, but I don't see it so. For years, PC gaming has offered new maps free of cost for popular first person shooters or RTS games. Due to this, I can never seem to justify paying money for map packs. 800 Microsoft points for 4 maps in Halo seems really steep to me. Maybe the publishers feel that people have forgotten about PC gaming or that it is not equal to PC gaming in some way, but I disagree. They are both part of the same industry and should share similar guidelines toward DLC.
Expansion packs and episodic content is an area that I think has a lot of potential, but is not being done right. A lot of developers seem to have a hard time stay on schedual for a constant flow of episodic content. When Oblivion was release on the 360, I feel like the expansion was on sale way too early into the release. By the time it had come out, I was barely touching the surface of the game. Since this was the case, I forgot about it and lost interest in buying the expansion. The opposite is often the case as well. GTA IV came out almost a year ago and we have yet to see the DLC expansion on the virtual shelves. Everyone has finished playing that game long ago and it really could have used an earlier release date to keep people interested. I wouldn't be surprised if they've lost some of their core audience by the time the expansion is released.
In the end I feel like DLC is still really in it's infancy and has a long way to go in terms of pricing and timing. I'm not as concerned about games discs being baron of content as much as I am with quality DLC. There have been hidden gems like the Cod4 Beta program or some nice free swag from certain developers, but we do have a lot to learn.
With both sides being argued, it should be mentioned that some companies have found other ways of offering content that is very successful for both the publisher and the consumer. Criteron/EA have revolutionized downloadable content by offering free content to their consumers on a regular basis. However, instead of charging the consumer for the extra content, EA makes a considerable amount of revenue by selling virtual billboard space within Burnout Paradise. I can't commend Criteron/EA enough for adopting these tactics, because they are less intrusive on the wallet and they add a considerable amount of new content to the game).
When done properly, downloadable content is a major boon for the consumer. However, the current DLC trends of the console gaming industry are rapidly becoming an excuse for publishers to rape us with bland, incomplete games.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this DLC discussion! If anyone in the community would be interested on being a part of the next panel or any panel in the future, just let me know via Private Message with your email address! Leave comments if you’d like to continue the discussion below!