[Disclaimer: This blog does not represent the views or opinions of Enkido as he exists in a sane state and he cannot be held responsible for the content expressed in this article. He kicks puppies. Also, Cocks]
I know that this is a tad late as it is no longer December, but you will find that I am one of the best procrastinators that you will find. I don't know if it is possible to be a good procrastinator, as it is generally considered a bad thing, but I somehow manage to do it well usually. Feel free to mark off 10 points for tardiness.
Now onto the topic at hand. Downloadable Content (DLC) has become quite abundant in our current generation of consoles. It is a relatively new thing and many of the developers are still trying to find a formula that works. Some have had more success than others. Like other things it has its positives and negatives. Being that this is a relatively new trend, many people have yet to make up their mind on the practice, making it the perfect topic for this monthly theme in my opinion. Regardless of your feelings on the subject it would seem that this trend is here to stay and so warrants investigation.
In my opinion DLC evolved from the release of expansions. MMO's have been making expansions for games since well before the current generation of consoles. These expansions were sold separate from the game and served to add a large amount of content to keep the players occupied. Now there has not been much argument on the release of these expansions. I believe this is due to the idea of value that a player gets from an expansion to an MMO. Those that really like the game will likely buy the expansion to keep the experience fresh. Those that decide that they don't like the game don't have to pick up the expansion. Expansions often add a huge amount of content, entirely new, yet related stories. I believe that DLC evolved as content that adds to the game but not enough content to warrant it as a separate expansion.
Hi, I add an entire continent, new story, new enemies, new jobs, and an entirely new and separate way to compete against other players.
DLC is a much more hotly debated topic in games today, with some doing it wrong and some doing it right (at least in my opinion). DLC adds to a game and keeps players coming back and the game fresh. In this way it is similar to expansions. The difference is generally in an expansion there is so much content that the price is rarely an issue. The problem with DLC is that there is no real way to quantify the value of the content released to to amount being charged. The other problem is that it is new and developers are still seeing what they can and cannot do with DLC, at least what should be paid for. Some have done this well and many more have made mistakes, and may continue.
For those who have done this well, I have to argue that Little Big Planet had done an outstanding and praiseworthy job in their distribution of DLC. The original game came with a lot of stuff and Media Molecule has only added more. The most abundant thing you will find in the way of DLC for Little Big Planet is costumes. These pander to the real enthusiasts of the game. They add little more than a way to further customize your character. For the people that really like the game this is fine. They get more content and more importantly it is cheap and pays off for Media Molecule. Other things like this include their level and music packs which add more for level designers to play with. Then there is the beefier content like their Metal Gear Solid expansion and their latest Pirates of the Caribbean expansion. These added completely new levels and mechanics, the MGS pack adding the paint gun and the Pirates pack adding water and realistic physics. These cost more than the character packs but offer a great value for the money in my opinion. Now none of this has to be purchased and LBP is a full and complete, and even ever-growing game, by itself, but this content adds more for the player to play around with. It offers the players that really love the game some little bonuses for cheap with the costume packs, and for those that like the game but not enough to pay for the costume packs there are the 2 mini-expansions. My only tiny complaint about it is that there are only 2 of these mini-expansions, but I can't really fault them for that.
Now, if Little Big Planet is DLC done right as this picture claims then who is doing it wrong? Well this is a good question but that is hard to answer. As DLC is still new it is hard to say who is doing it right and wrong. In my opinion LBP is doing it right, but there are a lot more doing it wrong. For this I will use an recent example of what I believe to be someone doing it wrong. A couple of weeks ago this article discussed the upcoming DLC for Assassin's Creed II. I like Assassin's Creed, don't get me wrong but the DLC in ACII is an example of doing it wrong in my eyes. The developers admitted to cutting out actual game story content to be used later as DLC. I can only speculate that it went something like this:
Ubisoft: "You don't really need this, you can function with just one, and we can give you the missing parts back later."
So to be clear, ACII($60)+the missing part of the story as DLC($Undifined)=The whole story.
This, to me, is an example of how not to do things with DLC. DLC should add onto the games that have their stories fully realized. It SHOULD NOT remove story content for later release. The fact that the missing content is marked in the game also seems to give credence to the idea that they are punching gamers in the balls.
Thank you, Ubisoft
Now that that is cleared up there is another specific example that I would like to bring up and that is the music game genre. The DLC here consists of individual songs or albums by various artists. This has been done right and wrong as well. In my view Rock Band does DLC right. It releases a ton of songs on a regular basis and lets players choose the songs that they want to buy. This way the player only pays for content they want and it is offered at an affordable price.
Then there is Guitar Hero. Yes they release DLC, but it is few and far between compared to Rock Band. Activision also seems to have an annoying(in my view) habit of releasing band specific games at a frightening pace. They also have a habit of releasing a staggering amount of games within a short amount of time. These games tend to not add a lot in the way of features and are, in my opinion hard to justify as full games. Oftentimes these seem like they add noting to the game that could not have been done in DLC. This is bad because if you want certain songs from one of the games you are stuck paying for a full game to get the content you want and some that you really did not. Bad for gamers and wallets alike.
Wikipedia has a handy chart of the full release titles here: obvious cash in
Before I finish there is one other thing I feel deserves discussion.
No matter your views on this subject, it created some controversy and it relates to this topic. Some people said that it should have been DLC. Some said that it should not have been full priced. Others were happy with what they got for their $60. I do not doubt the quality of the game, but I am of the belief that this should not have retailed for full price, and before you tear me to pieces allow me to explain myself. It is fairly obvious that this game added a lot. A new story and a new multiplayer game type, is worthy of being charged for. It is fairly obvious (in my view anyway) that this is too big for DLC. However, I would also not call it a full game. The story was short, too short for a full game anyway, and the multiplayer was an expansion of the already existing multiplayer from the previous game. As such, I would contend that this is more of an expansion that a full game. I would have no problem if they had priced this in the $40 or possibly even $50 dollar range, but when looking at MMO's, where expansions have become established, it is fair to say that expansions very rarely cost the amount of the full game.
So what do you think, did I do well, do I deserve a cookie? Do you hate me forever? What do you make of all this DLC foolery? Let me know I am interested.