Developers Need To Understand How To Do DLC Correctly
DLC has become something of a trend these past few years in the gaming industry. In an effort to monetize the crap out of their games, they have resorted to providing gamers with map packs and crappy costume DLC. I guess I can see their motivations behind it though. They want to combat secondhand game sales and one of the ways in which they can do it is providing extra content that gamers can only buy digitally and cannot get otherwise. But the quality of DLC has diminished rapidly in recent years. Way back, the gaming community was up in arms about the horse armour add-on in Oblivion being relatively pointless for such a high price, but these days that would just be an accepted thing you would see.
DLC has been a thorn in my side for many years. Sometimes it would look like the developers purposefully excluded content from the main game just to put out some random pack for a premium price. It always felt that it was taking advantage of me and with me being rather frugal, I refused to spend money on anything that I didn’t consider valuable in some way. But then you had DLC that was worth it to buy and then some. The strongest example I can give is Borderlands 2 and their massive DLC packs. These provided you with potentially hundreds of hours worth of extra content and they didn’t skim on the quality either. That’s how it’s supposed to be. High value for money and a big addition to an already established game.
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The wrong way to do it is like in Mass Effect 3 with their Day 1 DLC. Withholding content that was supposed to be in the main game and excluding an entire character just for the sake of making a few extra bucks when the game reached its secondhand cycle. That’s just abhorrent business practice. The other wrong way is to provide nothing of value to the buyer. In Dead Space 3 you could buy incredibly expensive packs that did what? Give your scavenger robot a voice. That offers nothing of value to the gameplay. It does not implement new strategies, it does not give new experiences and it just adds nothing to the game but a few cheap laughs maybe.
DLC was once a proud thing within the gaming industry. We got entire expansion packs that might as well have been sequels to the game, but for the same price nowadays, that might get you a costume and a map. There has been a sort of resurgence of good quality expansions nowadays, however. Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon, Assassin’s Creed Freedom Cry and Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen provided us with great, quality experiences for a fraction of the cost of the game they are based off of. Blood Dragon in particular was a massive success because it felt like an entirely different game, but used the same mechanics and assets of Far Cry 3. However, these games can be seen as more standalone releases rather than DLC, but they do use a lot of their core games’ qualities which labels them as DLC for me.
There is some good DLC out there right now. Burial at Sea, Mass Effect 3 Citadel, most of the Fallout New Vegas packs, Skyrim’s Dragonborn, The Last of Us Left Behind and so on. But for every good DLC pack that is released, there are thousands of costume packs, weapon packs, horse armours, dog companions and other pointless crap that adds nothing but fluff to a game. It’s like a plague. Whenever I see the grayed out “downloadable content” option in a newly released game, I sigh rather than be excited for more content.
Developers need to wake up and realize that if they produce quality DLC that it would just sell itself. It’s only beneficial to them, but they would rather take the quick and easy route with minimum effort and produce shovelware just to make a quick buck. Hopefully they see the value in putting in a little more effort for the future’s sake.