Friday, February 24, 2012

DLC Series Part Two: The Never-ending Cycle

In the second part of my DLC series I want to discuss something that might be somewhat offensive to people. I would like to start out by saying I mean no ill-will about what I am saying. For consoles, DLC was something that originally started last generation with the Xbox and PlayStation 2. Perhaps the most notable DLC was the Halo 2 map pack. These add-ons added much more replay value to Halo 2 as well as changing up how you play the game. It was a welcome addition and fans really enjoyed. However, with the transition into this generation we began to see a trend, something that we probably should’ve noticed earlier.

DLC this generation is getting to be noticeably more expensive. Not only this but the main game seems to be lacking content. To some this should be familiar. While not all developers do this, and I’m not accusing that any developers do this at all, you can’t help but feel like pieces of the main game are being removed and released later as DLC. This could definitely be possible when you consider that publishers want to monotize everything. DLC is something that enhances the experience, not complete it. DLC should be something that gives more of what the players originally wanted, something to increase the longevity of the game, not detract from it. Of course, beyond this we also have games that release map packs that use maps from older games rather than new ones. There is an optimistic way of looking at all this. Perhaps you’re someone who says, “DLC enhances the experience. It gives me more of what I want. They’re not taking anything out! They’re adding to it!” or maybe “I liked that map the previous game so if they charge me more for an old map, I don’t mind!” 

I would say to all the people that are optimistic or have these kind of values to reevaluate yourself. This is how I look at it right now. I think that DLC and the players that buy them are in a perpetual cycle that will never end and it’ll be impossible to break free from. What am I talking about? Poor DLC or distributing DLC in an unethical manner. We, the players, have no one else to blame except ourselves. The original purpose of DLC is to enhance and increase the experience of the original game. However by repeatedly purchasing DLC we have allowed the developers and publishers to think that we would readily buy any piece of DLC. While this is true it created a twisted form of DLC. Developers and publishers would remove content and make it DLC or create some sloppy DLC that people would buy regardless. 

A prime example of this is Call of Duty and Mass Effect. I won’t go into Mass Effect because I’ll discuss it another time but Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 sold map packs for $15 dollars each. Now previously map packs were $10 dollars and had three maps but the newer packs have five. It sounds like it’s a good deal right? You couldn’t be further from the truth. Two of those maps are from an older game that are just ported over to Modern Warfare 2. Sure you’re paying $15 dollars worth of content but you’re paying $15 dollars of loussy and poorly-executed content. Even so, millions went on to buy this map pack. What have we done? We now have a problem where developers think it’s alright to rehash old material and charge us again for it rather than deliver new content and experiences. What the heck? Who is to blame? Everyone who bought the DLC and everyone who watched as we let the developers and publishers roam free.

Another instance is the DLC unlock code. I discussed it last time so I’ll briefly go over it. We now have developers that think it’s alright to have actual completed content ON THE DISC and have it locked out to us so we have to purchase it as DLC. It wasn’t like this in the beginning. When this practice first popped up, all gamers should’ve gotten up from the couch and slapped the developers. “What were you thinking?” Gears of War 3 has content that is locked up and unless you buy the “DLC” you can’t use it. What kind of crap is this? It’s because we allowed this practice to continue AND people bought the DLC that developers and publishers think it’s alright.

My last example is with Final Fantasy XIII-2. There are costumes that you can buy as DLC, for $4. This doesn’t enhance the experience or anything. All it does is change the physical aesthetics of your character, that’s it! It’s an expensive piece of content that doesn’t even match up for what it offers to the player. Of course people are going to buy this regardless of common sense.

The players are stuck in a perpetual cycle. We want to buy DLC because it can add something more to the game. However, we’re at a point where we can’t go back. DLC is so readily accepted by gamers, uninformed gamers, and the general populace that no matter what we do, there will be an extreme amount of DLC sold. This essentially means that developers are going to keep creating crappy DLC and distribute them unethically. Maybe a few years ago, had we complained and set the developers and publishers straight, we wouldn’t be in this position. Now we’ve come along so far that no matter what we do, we screwed ourselves. If we don’t buy DLC then we miss out on the experience. However, if we do buy DLC then we’re actively saying that DLC is okay. What do we do? As we struggle against the developers and publishers, they push back stronger and of course we do too. It's a never-ending cycle of 2 groups constantly angered over the existence of DLC.

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