If there's anything that's been a bane to gamers in this seventh generation of video game consoles, it's DLC.
Like many people, I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, I remember when you could play games and unlock new content with codes or based on your performance. On the other hand, I've been happy to dish out money for expansion packs that add significant amounts of new content. With console DLC, that's not always the case. You've got companies like Namco Bandai, which like to nickel-and-dime you with character customization pieces in Soul Calibur IV or plane parts and paint jobs in Ace Combat 6. Then you've got Epic Games delivering the massive Titan Pack for Unreal Tournament 3 on PS3 (though I suspect that may be because the game sold so poorly and hardly anyone plays it).
You've got companies like Sony that are completely schizophrenic. On one side, they too want to nickel-and-dime you with overpriced fake clothes and furniture in Home. But then they also made the map packs from Resistance 1 free, and they have a pretty good sale running right now for the Warhawk booster packs (jetpacks FTW). Then you've got Capcom - and this is the point where I don't know whether I should love or hate DLC.
As a longtime Mega Man fan, I of course instantly bought Mega Man 9 when it was released last fall on PSN. It's interesting that with this game you download a demo that's about 60 megs, and then you have to pay $10 for an unlock key that's a few hundred kilobytes. This in itself isn't surprising, since many other digital download titles do the same thing. It's when you get to the DLC that things get interesting. Although Mega Man 9 looks like an NES game on the surface, under the hood it definitely isn't. When you buy DLC like Endless Attack, Proto Man and the Special Stage, you download files that are again several hundred kilobytes. Given how big the demo was, I'm sure the new levels weren't that small. Which leads to a pretty obvious conclusion: the content is already there, and you're just paying to unlock it.
Maybe I'm just angered here over semantics. I don't like the idea that there's stuff in a game that you can't access unless you pay for it. Is that significantly different from if it wasn't in the game and you had to download it afterward? I'm not sure. I'm also troubled by what Capcom considers DLC territory now: difficulty modes. Why would I pay for something as minuscule as a difficulty mode? Whatever happened to the days when you would beat a game and then unlock new difficulty modes? By the same token, I'm apprehensive about Resident Evil 5's versus mode, which is launching so soon after the game. Despite Capcom brushing off concerns from gamers, I think the issue raises questions. If this versus mode includes new maps, weapons, etc, I'm happy to pay the $5 for it. If it's just a new mode of gameplay that Capcom decided to block off, they're not getting my money.
There's been plenty of bitching back and forth on DLC at tons of websites. I can see things from the publisher's perspective too: developing games for this console generation is more expensive than the last generation. They want to recoup their costs, and who doesn't want more money in this bad economy? However, there has to be a balance in what developers decide to charge for and what they don't. No gamer wants to be pulled along buying tons of little pieces of content here and there, and I think developers would do well to realize this sooner rather than later.
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