A Look at DLC
With all this talk about downloadable content lately, I thought I'd share a little bit of my own opinion on the matter.
Downloadable content has become a staple in modern gaming. Whether we love it or hate it, the fact of the matter is that DLC is here to stay. We've heard a lot of arguments against DLC, and believe me, I agree with a lot of them. But my exact stance is not one way or another. As with politics, I am a middle-of-the-roader with DLC. I can see the argument for both sides, and I formulate my opinions on the matter on a day-by-day (or rather content-by-content) basis. So what exactly do I believe about DLC?
In general, I am okay with DLC. I don't enjoy it all the time, but I do think that it's a necessity in video games today. Let's face it: the industry today is nowhere near as strong as it was way back when. Games nowadays are blockbusters if they sell a couple million copies. Black Ops, across 4 platforms, sold 25 million. Uncharted 3 on a single platform sold just over 3 million. Both are considered successful games. If the Black Ops numbers are averaged out among the four platforms (which I know is not the case, because it sold more on the 360 than on the PS3, PC, and Wii), that's 6.25 million units sold for each system, which is over twice as much as Uncharted on a single platform. Compare both of those figures to GoldenEye, which released on a single system (the N64). GoldenEye sold 8 million units in 1997, back when a dollar was worth...well, a dollar. If the same logic I applied to Call of Duty is applied to GoldenEye, then across 4 platforms, GoldenEye would have sold 32 million units at $60 a unit. That's $1,920,000,000, rounded down. Adjusted for inflation, that's $2,742,857,142.86.
Obviously, that's a very wild and exaggerated example, so take it with a grain of salt. My point is that the industry is not as strong as it was before; if you pay attention to video game news, you often hear about how sales figures for each month are lagging behind sales for the same month one year prior, which were also lagging behind sales for the same month the year before that, and so on and so forth. That is not an exaggeration. That is a fact. So with that in mind, knowing the direction the industry is heading, I understand the pressure of DLC. People gotta make money. They gotta feed their families. They have to exist. I get that. DLC is one of the ways that companies can make up for the weaker industry and the weaker economy, and if they’re gonna make a living like that, then alright. I’m not gonna be the guy to tell them “no, don’t make money.” So in a broad perspective, I am okay with DLC because it’s capitalism.
Call it blasphemy, but I’m…tolerable of on-disc DLC. However, it has to be done for the right reasons. I think it was Gears of War 3 that had a small uproar because of its on-disc DLC. The developers basically responded with “we used the disc as a medium of communication so the DLC would be made easily compatible.” And that’s perfectly fine by me. Think about it: if they’re gonna release the DLC anyways, then why not make everyone’s lives a bit easier and make sure the thing works without a patch when someone wants to play it? Besides, since there’s usually at least a month or two between the game going gold and the game being released, you know the developers are working on that DLC any chance they get. It just makes the whole DLC situation more convenient for everyone. Do I miss buying a game for $60 and having the entire game? You’re damn right I do. I miss those days a lot. But if DLC is here to stay, then we might as well make the process as painless as we possibly can.
Day-1 DLC has always been a miss for me. Maybe someday, a developer will make some Day-1 DLC that I find decent, but for now, the entire idea is downright depressing. You see, DLC began as a way of expanding the possibilities of the game. Concepts that fans were intrigued by that didn’t make the final cut were completely viable as DLC, and that not only keeps the game going while making the developers some money, but it also gives the players an interesting tidbit that they could have missed out on entirely. With that in mind, Day-1 DLC is degradation to the purity of the concept. What began as a way to show players cool ideas has since become a way to grab your cash as quickly as possible. Despite what it may add to the experience, Day-1 DLC’s cons far outweigh the pros, and someone somewhere is getting royally gypped by these game companies. How is that even fair? Why are they’re not getting the full experience just because they didn’t preorder? Speaking of…
I get that the developers want to boost preorder numbers by offering free/discounted content for early adopters, but what if someone doesn’t have the time to go preorder? What if someone won’t have the money to get the game until the day of release? And what about the people who didn’t hear about the game until it already came out? I know we are big on industry news and we stay as up-to-date on these things as we possibly can, but what about the average gamers, the casual occasionals, the neophytes, and the technologically inept/incapable? That’s where I totally agree with everyone about “buying a game and having the complete experience.” We shouldn’t punish people for not preordering by limiting their experience monetarily. We should usher them in regardless of purchasing status. At the most, they should be restricted via timed exclusivity; early adopters should have exclusive access to the DLC for the first few weeks and then everyone else should get the DLC for free at a later date. To top it all off, different stores have different preorder bonuses, so even if you preorder the game, you might not get the full content until later because all the people who preordered somewhere else have content that you don't have and vice versa. Day-1 DLC as a preorder bonus is flat-out dastardly, and whatever company pioneered the concept should be ashamed of itself.
Allow me the controversy in saying I am fine with season passes. I don’t hate them. Hell, I don’t even dislike them. I do like them. I like them way more than buying costumes for five bucks a pop (CAPCOM). Maybe it’s the capitalist in me, or maybe it’s the progressive industrialist gamer in me, but either way, I see nothing wrong with season passes. Why, you ask? Well, season passes are a pretty alright deal. You pay a larger bulk of money all at once in order to get most or all future DLC for a game, but you still get a discount when compared to buying each piece of downloadable content individually. Besides, the people that season passes target are the hardcore fans, who are more likely to buy every DLC at the literal drop of a dime. So if you can spend a little more now to save a little more later, then why not pounce on the opportunity? For crying out loud, Valve’s Steam service does the same thing and everybody loves it.
For what it’s worth, the whole idea of downloadable content is tiring to me. I do yearn for the days where I could buy a game and know that I own 100% of the content. But it’s like I said, if DLC is here to stay, then we might as well make the best of the situation and get as much out of it as we can. Am I saying your complaints have no ground? Not at all; I agree with you guys on most of the points you make. But I don’t think downloadable content is completely terrible by any means. On the contrary, DLC is where some of the more interesting things in recent memory have happened. It provides an avenue for developers to address fan concerns, it allows companies to make a few extra dollars, and it extends the longevity of each title that uses it by adding new and (usually) interesting content. So long as it’s created competently, used properly, and priced fairly, then we should try and cut it some slack and enjoy it for what it is: another reason to play the games we love.
Thanks for reading. Be sure to post your comments below. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter and I almost always respond to my comments.
How is my assumption dangerous, or even inapplicable? I'm just basing it off personal experience, much like you did I'm guessing. My examples aren't just things I pulled out of my butt to prove a point, I've seen people literally pay a dollar a day until release day for their game. And again, most incentives really aren't all that great, it varies from game to game, but even if someone doesn't get them because of not preordering, I wouldn't really call it a 'punishment'.
Our world is very technology driven these days, sooner or later older folk have to have come across it in their lives, it's almost unheard of not to unless you live in a 3rd world country.
Yes I do. I will admit that. That's probably why I don't accept that kind of practice.
Day-1 DLC is usually on-disc, and having it double as both on-disc and as a preorder incentive does not sit well with me because I'm being doubly screwed over.
I'm also not saying on-disc DLC is good. I'm saying it's bad, but if there's a legitimate reason for it, then I'm more tolerable. I understand it, though I don't prefer it. I hope that makes sense. =]
You see things differently than they do.
I don't get why you would be positive about on-disc DLC but negative in terms of Day 1 DLC. To meet the release date developers finish the main game and send the code out to be burned on to the disc and shipped. This takes some time, time they nowadays use to create said Day 1 DLC. However on-disc DLC forces you to pay extra for parts of the game that were finished when they sent it out, and I can't see why you would defend it for it's convenience.
Choicing to stay is one thing. Forcing people to say is another. I don't think that using that as an excuse for something like that is right. Coulter or not, to me it's still wrong.
Your assumption is a dangerous one, and though there is truth in it, it's quite encompassing, which makes it inapplicable.
Thanks for your comment. =]
Fair enough. Thanks for your comment. =]
I'm going to go on an assumption and say that's probably a small number of people. If someone were really in a financial bind then I'd guess they have bigger priorities than buying games in the first place, or at least that's what a responsible person would do. Car needs a new tire and it's your only mode of transportation, logic and need would dictate that you'd put money toward that tire than a new game.
I too know older men and women, most of whom know tech better than a youngster like me lol. As someone who preorders regularly most peeps really aren't missing out on much. Most free dlc that I get with the preorders isn't really necessary, and just amounts to things that are nice to have but not really needed to enjoy the rest of the game; again that's with me personally.
Unsurprisingly, this guy on the internet does not completely agree with you.
Let's drop the point of contention here. If you wish to discuss it, you can always PM me.
And DLC? I don't abhor its existence altogether, but there are certain aspects of it I strongly dislike. With respect to on-disc locked content, I think it would be particularly instructive to see what console game developers themselves have to say about it. Gamasutra may have some material in that regard . . .
I think politics has no place in the video game world. There needs to be division between them, a separation of categories. They do not mesh. Let's not try to change that. =3
We don't disagree that the industry is on a negative trend. And I see you didn't care for my joke. Okay man.
As for your admonition, that depends on the nature of a given discussion. If I think a political reference is useful or relevant, I will make one. That's my simple rule.
Please keep politics and games separate. They are not related. Do not try to make them so.
I think the industry is stronger, yes, but on the downtrend for sure. When gaming hit the mainstream, they never looked back. GoldenEye was at the beginning of gaming hitting the mainstream. Mine was merely an exaggerated example and, as I said, should be taken with a grain of salt.
I agree that the early push for DLC was largely a reaction to industry conditions, but I wouldn't describe the current state of affairs in terms of commercial strength or lack thereof. Today's market is considerably larger than the one of 1997. More people are playing on video game consoles than ever before, though other emerging avenues for gaming are beginning to change this.
What ail console games at present are their underlying economics. Currency devaluation not withstanding, development costs in real terms have absolutely ballooned as the hardware has grown more sophisticated and the games more complex. A modern title anywhere near high profile must move an absurd number of units (relative to yesteryear) just to break even, let alone make a profit. Consumers only have so much income to spend, resulting in sales cannibalization. Enter DLC.
Anyway, Obama will bring back "complete" games and give us the Dreamcast 2, as I am told he can do anything.
Keep in mind that Japanese work ethic and employment style is different from ours. People often sleep in offices or get locked in. That's just how they are.
I get that, but I'm talking about the people who are literally in a financial bind. Tight months come at any time and they're unavoidable. Why should they be punished for having monetary issues? And what about people who are not tech savvy? I know a few gamers who know little about the internet; they're about 30-45 years old and much prefer to play games alone. But they want 100% of the experience just like anyone else, so I don't think they should be punished for simple ignorance.
that's a little extreme for the matter, don't you think? It's not like anyone is forcing you to buy the DLC. It's merely a way that companies can make money, for better or for worse.
Yes, of course, and that kind of "DLC" has been around since before the concept went by the name. That's why I think we're more tolerable of "expansion packs."
Well, now you're being cynical.
There's a difference between stating facts for the sake of discussion and stating facts for the sake of argument. Your sarcasm, your diction, your syntax, and your overall tone are generally negative and do not promote discussion in a positive manner. If you feel insulted in any way, shape, or form by my comments, you should immediately discontinue your responses on my post. I'm a former linguistics major and a current psychology minor. I've done this type of analyzing before.
I'm not saying all companies have good reason for on-disc DLC. I'm simply stating that some companies have good reasons for it. Companies like GearBox, Epic Games, and whatnot, they're not the kind to screw over their fans because they respect the people who make their products successful. So excuse me if I am more inclined to believe that Epic wants to make sure their fanbase is appeased, even if it means losing face in the process.
Am I saying all companies are like them? Of course not. Look at EA. Or Activision. Or Capcom. Or Ubisoft. Or Sony. Or Microsoft. I'm not ignoring the fact that their on-disc DLC doesn't have the same viable excuse as Epic or GearBox. In fact, I pointed it out, if only as an implication: compatibility reasons are perhaps one of (if not the only) excuse for on-disc DLC because generally speaking, that is the only reason that it's justifiable. All other on-disc DLC is merely "convenient" and not "preferable."
Right, I'm so angry to the point that I'm plotting to murder every last employee at Capcom.
No, I'm stating facts, that's it. But in your mind, stating facts = raging over what you call "small subjects." And how am I being a jerk about it? I haven't insulted you, called you any names, or threatened you in any way, shape or form. And if you feel insulted in any way, shape, or form by my comments, you should immediately discontinue posting blogs on forum websites. People are going to disagree with you.
So there's 1 instance of this problem, does that excuse all the other companies of this practice? No it does not, because it hasn't to their games. And how is content that is locked away going to solve said issue?