To start this off, I feel it’s fair that I note that Downloadable Content on certain games is okay in my book – so long as it keeps the story going far beyond what the start to finish gameplay could. And I’m perfectly okay with paying for DLC on some games just to give a couple extra bucks to the developers for their hardwork in exchange for a couple more hours of gameplay.
What I’m not okay with is within a month of the game being released there is already an announcement for some big DLC with new characters or maybe something that adds another huge part to the storyline. Or the DLC even alters the storyline completely.
Let’s look at WatchDogs. The game just came out on May 27th but on April 29th, they already announced that there was a DLC where you can play as T-bone. THE GAME WASN’T EVEN OUT YET and they were already plotting on how to make that extra cash. They had a trailer for it and everything. I honestly wouldn’t mind it so much if they had announced something like that with – “Oh hey everyone, we have some DLC planned out for the future just an FYI” but no. It was a full length trailer and everything ready to go for the DLC before the game even came out. I’m not a code monkey and I won’t pretend that I know how long it takes to code a game but I just find it frustrating to know that to play a complete game, it’s going to cost me a lot more than just the price of the game.
“But what about the deadlines” – I get it. I understand the time crunch and the hustle to have things ready. They have to release a game by a certain time in order to appease the publishers, bosses, investors, and whoever else has their pockets involved, but I would be happier to have the “complete” game come out with a majority of the content at a later time than have the game come out and for them to charge me a month later for what they deem is the complete game. The same goes for several companies that release the game for retail purchasing, but it’s almost unplayable for 90% of the people who buy it due to the bugs and glitches that should have been resolved in beta testing and by their quality assurance team.
From a marketing standpoint, waiting a few extra months to announce DLC can help carry on the hype when the players start losing interest. And I definitely won’t feel as ripped off that I didn’t buy a completed game. I also get that they might release DLC info ahead of time in order to build a hype for the game but for some of us, it works exactly the opposite. I would rather just wait for the “Game of the Year” version, (if there is one, which usually has 90% of the DLC on it now days) and just get all the extra stuff later then pay piece by piece.
A lot of companies have introduced “Season passes” that allow you to get the DLC at a discounted rate. But a majority of Season Passes can run anywhere from $15-20 or more. So on top of the $60+ already forked out for a game, it makes it a bit difficult to justify for the sake of staying entertained.
DLC is becoming more of an access point for extra revenue with new skins, characters, etc. and rarely about adding more to the storyline material at a later point.
Let’s take Fallout 3 for an example. The game came out in October of 2008 and they had a couple smaller DLC packs in the following months but then on May 2009, Bethesda released the “Broken Steel” DLC that added an extension past the original ending of the game. Personally, I loved it and the execution of it was flawless. The original ending left the game kind of hanging. I won’t ruin anything by spoiling it but this DLC was needed. The DLC added hofrurs of extra gameplay and developed the story to the point where I was honestly satisfied with this ending. With DLC’s like this that offer huge additions to the game or there are additions that the fan base might be asking for, I can definitely get behind a DLC like that.
One additional issue that arises for me is ‘Disc Locked Content’. That means that the material is already on the game disc at the time of purchase and it is not something extra that was created after the game was made that needed to be downloaded. It was something that was created and released with the game but in order to access the material you have to pay. While some might say that it’s their right to do so for new skins and stuff like that, I have no problem for that stuff. If players want to customize their gaming experience, they should have the chance to do so with all those pretty bells and whistles. I do have an issue with developers that have disc locked content that adds more to the game. It feels like highway robbery after paying $60+ for the game then developers deciding what is enough for me to have before I have to invest more money into the company.
It’s the principle of the matter, if I’m making $60 for a game, I expect to get the whole game and the parts that the developers have decided is “enough” for me to have. I do need to point out that this isn’t an argument about the cost of things versus what I, or anyone can really afford in today’s day and age. I can gladly talk about economics and inflation for hours. Especially when it has come down to Disneyland Passes. You can do dinner and a movie on a date and spend nearly $100 for a single evening of fun -Or for the same cost you could buy a game and the DLC, and have months of entertainment depending on how much you enjoy the content.
And there are only a few games actually do this and only a few companies tend to have the bad habit of constantly doing this – I’m looking directly at you Capcom and EA! But it’s a habit that should definitely stop. It’s unfair to your loyal customers and it just gives you a bad reputation. Let’s take the “From Ashes” “DLC” for Mass Effect 3 as an example. The DLC contained 2 completely new missions, a new character to add to your party, and a new weapon. The content added a few more hours of gameplay to the already massive ME3 run time and……. the content was already included in the game when it was purchased on the PC. (For the few smart guys out there, there was a way to unlock it for free because of this.)
The excuse used for this was that the content was completed by a different developer by the time the game was getting its certification but call it something else instead of DLC.
Finally, let’s talk about Capcom and their “crime” against their fanbase. On Street Fighter X Tekken, they included a few extra characters as disc-locked-content. Call me old fashion but I remember a time that in fighting games that in order to get extra characters, you had to complete tasks or missions or just beat the game with certain characters in order to unlock the extra characters. Well time has definitely changed that because Capcom was charging their fanbase in order to unlock 12 characters that were already included in the game but they wanted to make extra money by making you pay for it. And once again, we get it – Companies are in the business of making money but for shame Capcom. I wouldn’t have cared as much if it was something that Capcom decided at a later time to add on because the fans wanted it. BUT NO! It was content that was already available at the time of purchase and Capcom choose to keep it from their fans in order to make a quick buck. I’m a fighting game fan I refuse to be taken for advantage of and I don’t think anyone else deserves to be taken advantage of either.
So before this lengthy rant gets any longer I just have to say this.. Brands, don’t try to cheat your (loyal) customers. We love gaming and most gamers stay loyal to the companies that they love because of the way the companies treat them. You don’t need to hire more marketing executives and fancy PR firms in order to understand this. This is probably the reason why your games are costing more -because your overhead is now more. It’s plain and simple though, we don’t like feeling ripped off. One bad move can be forgiven but multiple inflictions against the fanbase is a lot harder to forget. We have our breaking point. DLC usually mean Downloadable Content, it shouldn’t mean Disc-Locked-Content. And if we pay for a game, we expect a complete game, not the parts that the developer decides is acceptable to push that release date. I can understand that there are timelines for a game to come out in order appease everyone up on the corporate ladder but don’t forget about the fans and appeasing them too because without us, well, without us, you wouldn’t be making the games.