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What makes a good or bad DLC?

7/8/12 4:40pm
tl;dr

Things that are important: Value, a good price, don’t slice something off from the regular game to sell it seperately, Day-One DLC is annoying and please stop these stupid retail-DLCs.

Editor's Note: Whether you agree with him or not, Elrood definitely provides some very good food for thought when it comes to the nature of DLC.

Of course, we do not all share the same view on DLC. Some people just want to see a continuation of a story, others are fine with having a few new skins for their favorite Beat ‘Em Up. But there are undoubtedly a few things we all want from DLC.

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  • Value: Simple yeah, but if the provided content isn’t really worth the money, there is no reason to buy it. Who cares about new maps that essentially are just slight variations of already existing ones? New quests for my RPG? Cool! But don’t sell me uninspired fetch-quests!

 

Some DLC that had good value:

  1. The Binding of Isaac: “Wrath of the Lamb”. New Items, Bosses and Rooms make for hours of new gameplay!
  2. Dragon Age Origins: Awakening”. Unfortunately a lot of bugs, but the content was quite interesting.
  3. Mass Effect 2: “Shadow Broker " and, “The Arrival”. Tells interesting stories and lessens the wait for Mass Effect 3

Some DLC that had bad value:

  1. Oblivion: The notorious “Horse armour” (subjectively)
  2. Assassin‘s Creed Revelations:Vlad the Impaler Prison”. Extremely short, not even a decent cut-scene – simply a waste of time (and money!). All you can get is a good weapon (which you don’t really need anway).
  3. Dragon Age Origins: “Return to Ostegar”. This dull, uninspired quest is not worth taking.

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  • A reasonable Price: Overpriced DLC is something we see quite a lot. Be it map-packs or new characters, whatever. You can’t charge 10 Dollars for 30 Minutes of new gameplay! (“From the Ashes”)The sad truth is that people keep on buying these ridiculously priced DLCs.

 

Some DLC that had good prices

  1. Oblivion: "Shivering Isles"costs 30 dollars, quite pricy one might think but considering what you get for that money, it’s fair.
  2. The Binding of Isaac: "Wrath of the Lamb". Again? Yup, sorry, but you just get so much more for no more than 3 dollars!

Usually, if it’s an addon rather than a DLC (both mean essentially the same but DLC can be small and big) the cost effectiveness is fairly good.

Some DLC that had bad prices

  1. Modern Warfare 2. “Map-Packs”. 4 Maps = 15 Dollars? Yeah right. The worst part is that it worked…
  2. Street Fighter 3 Third Strike Online Edition: “Alternative Colours”. Each character gets 7 different kinds of colour swaps for 2 dollars. Swapping colours, eh? Isn’t that normally, uh I dunno a standard feature!?!

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  • Content that should have been in the game anyway: Day-One-DLC doesn’t exactly have a good reputation. It looks like the developers willingly sliced out a part from the finished game, in order to sell it seperately. Whether that’s actually true or not is debatable. If a developer team has finished the game, but there is still one month to go until the game releases, what will you do with these people? Sure, why not work on DLC. Though is it really so hard to offer DLC, 2 weeks after a games release? What ticks me off about Day-One-DLC is its tendency to be something quite important. A really interesting character for example.

 

Some DLC that felt like it got “cut-off” from the main game.

  1. Mass Effect 3. “From the Ashes
  2. Honestly? Every “Day-One-DLC”. As I said, there might be legit reasons for why “Day-One-DLC” isn’t as bad as we all make it to be. But from a consumer perspective you feel ripped off.

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  • DLC that is not already on the Disk: I can’t think of a reasonable excuse for this. I bought the damn disk, doesn’t that mean I should be able to access its full content? It’s called Downlodable Content, not Downlodable Code!

 

Some Games that fall into the on-disk category

  1. Bioshock 2: “Multiplayer”
  2. Risen 2: “Missions and Items”

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  • Don’t do retail-DLC: This is a lost cause, but I‘d still like to address it. “Oh look GameStop sells their game with this extra mission, but Walmart offers me cool skins and Amazo-“ Stop! Am I supposed to buy four different versions of my games now? I know that retailers do this kind of stuff to be more competetive, but for me, it’s just an annoyance and I feel like I bought an incomplete game. (The same goes for Collectors Editions, obviously. Action-Figures? Sure, but don’t advertise your collectors edition with “new missions”).

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In conclusion:

DLC is a great tool to lengthen the lifetime of a game, but for every good DLC there are ten new overpriced map-packs on the way. Whether that will change is completely up to our decision to buy said DLC.

Note to reader: When I thought about important aspects of what makes good DLC, I tried to mention things that most of us can agree on. If you find yourself disagreeing with my examples, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.”

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