I remember a time when I would pay $50 for a game, play it, beat it, and never touch it again. I’d put the disc back into the case, the case back on my shelf, and move on to the next game. But this is 2012; we live in a world where developers can add downloadable content (DLC) to extend the lives of their games. We do not, however, live in a world where added content should be free, nor do we live in a world where paying for it is a bad thing.
There’s an ugly reality in the world of videogames that some consumers fail to realize: This is a business. If you don’t make money, you’re going to get fired or, even worse, your company will go under. Just ask the former employers at 38 Studios.
So what happens when people decide they want to keep their job? They find ways to make money. Enter paid DLC and online passes. The latter has received a substantial amount of controversy due to people who either rent games or purchase them used, since they’re not getting the full game with their purchase. Well, guess what? They’re not paying full price for a game, either, meaning developers aren’t getting your money for their work. Again, this is a business and people need to make money. Which brings us to paid DLC.
The biggest complain about having to pay for DLC is that it means we’re not getting a full experience when we purchase a game. Take a look at Assassin’s Creed II, which was ‘missing’ Sequence 12 and 13. Oh, I’m sorry that a game that has us relive select memories of a past ancestor left us to sort of pick up the pieces and wonder what happened as we jump in time, only to offer us a chance to play through the corrupt sequences and enjoy the game more. Be honest, if we never had those sequences released, would we be complaining about not having a complete game? Granted, some people might have a point: we paid $60 for this game, why should we pay more to play more? Let’s discuss this.
Let’s hop into our DeLoreans, hit 88 MPH, and travel back to the last console generation. We were paying $50 a game and I was working at GameStop. Microsoft launched this little game called Halo 2 and, eventually, the Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack. The Map Pack costs $20 for 9 new multiplayer maps. No one complained about paying for these maps, and the pack sold like hot cakes.
Let’s flash forward to this current generation. The First Strike Pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops made $21 million its first day of release. Five maps, $21 million; people sure do love their CoD and zombies. But it’s wrong to add over a gigabyte worth of content to Assassin’s Creed II post launch? Sure, it was originally cut from development, but that’s the beauty of DLC: You can make that holiday deadline and put in all the planned content after the fact.
As for those who cry out that they shouldn’t have to pay for it, I have two words for you: stop complaining. 1.4 million of you purchased First Strike one day one. That’s 1.4 million people paying $15 for five maps. And it’s all honky dory. But paying $4.99 or $3.99 to play more Assassin’s Creed is unheard of?
Some of you may be quick to point out that this isn’t the biggest problem you have with DLC. Instead, on-disc DLC is the bane of your existence, and Capcom is your grim reaper. As if Resident Evil 6 weren’t already bad enough, they had to, reportedly, put on-disc DLC into the title. It’s such a travesty that there’s all that gameplay you won’t have access to. What are we going to do without having this DLC unlocked? How can we live without the locked away multiplayer taunts, outfits, attacks, etc. Oh wait, none of this has anything to do with gameplay.
Now, I will level with you guys a bit: Putting characters on a disc, something that does directly affect gameplay, is nothing more than a business move to save money by not requiring people to download these characters. But at least 600,000 people bought Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which is ultimately just $40 worth of DLC. So if you’re more than willing to pay for a “new game” over paying to download the new content, can you blame them for making business moves that save them money?
The point I’m trying to make is this: What do gamers really want? Do they want their DLC to be free? If that’s the case, then considering the rising budgets of gave development, as evident by the fact that we’re paying an extra $10 for games compared to last generation (something we’re perfectly okay with, by the way), how will developers make money?
Don’t raise your pitchforks at me and point out the free Left 4 Dead content Valve has put out on PC; how many of you PC gamers own the physical box of any modern Valve game? They’re saving plenty of money by simply releasing their products digitally, allowing them to be able to afford free DLC.
Maybe you don’t want your DLC to be something that “should have been” in the final version of a game? If that’s a case, stop bitching about delays. Does it suck that we’re not currently playing BioShock Infinite? You bet. Will be worth the wait? You’d better fucking believe it.
Maybe you’re tired of your on-disc DLC? Stop buying bad games with these features. But are you tired of spending money for more content after you beat a game, especially if it’s legitimate content? Then that’s too bad, I guess you don’t really like extending the shelf life of your favorite games.