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DLC: The Downside

So I've had a go at Transformers: War for Cybertron, and I love it. It's tight, versatile, fun, and the first game ever where I want to melee someone when I also have the option to shoot them (this includes games which revolve around melee). Kudos to High Moon for making what is, in essence, a bloody brilliant game. I'm almost certainly going to buy it, and I'm looking forward to having a shot at the multiplayer.

But hang on. It only has six PvP maps?

Unreal Tournament 3 has 15-or-so deathmatch maps and 30, 40, possibly even more, for the other game modes combined. Granted, I don't actually like most of them, but still. UT2004 has over a hundred in total, plus another, oh, well over fifty and possibly over another hundred in Community Bonus Packs, ChaosUT maps and other random downloads. My UT2004 install is actually so bloated with mods I acquired on whims that it weighs in at over twelve gigabytes (original size: about five and a half). While I hate to go all "in my day", it seems that you got a lot more content for your purchase in the past.

Look, see? Penny Arcade (and everyone else) agree with me.

Another, perhaps subtler, problem with paid DLC is that it runs a risk of dividing the community somewhat. Depending on the game's matchmaking system, the idea that some people might not be able to participate in other people's games (and vice versa, if they've bought different DLC packs) or join certain servers is a bit offputting. In a system where players host single matches rather than playing on servers, for the few days immediately following a DLC release, it's going to be difficult for those who didn't buy the packs to find games on the original maps, as everyone's trying out the new ones. In a free content model, this doesn't apply at all, as everybody's going to get the new stuff.

Perhaps the worst kind of paid DLC is that which allows players to gain advantages over opponents, by granting new and superior abilities or weaponry. I don't know of any specific examples of this happening, but I can foresee it. This sort of thing tends to upset everybody who didn't buy the overpowered stuff, and can turn a community sour quite easily. Microtransaction-powered MMOs can fall into the same trap, too.

It's a shame, really. You can certainly see why paid DLC exists, and can't really fault the developers for creating it; they have to make money somehow, after all, and they still have to get paid even when they're making free content. For a smaller, publisher-dependent developer (i.e. not Valve), it may be the only real option, especially in today's recession. But it does have a lot of downsides, and I personally would be a lot happier about plunking down a significant amount of money on a game with a pretty short single-player and a new, yet-to-be-expanded multiplayer experience if I knew that I wouldn't have to pay for it to be expanded either.
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About Son of Makutaone of us since 4:02 PM on 04.07.2010

Salutations! Name's Adam. I live in Oxford, I'm about to stop being a student, and I've just started writing for www.gigagamers.com (join us!). I play all sorts of games, with FPSs being perhaps my favourite genre. (Perhaps.) I have a pretty awesome gaming laptop and an Xbox 360, and I'm kind of eyeing up the PS Vita, although I recently bought a bass, so I probably ought not to splash out another load of money...
Steam ID:nickj01


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