My take on the DLC debate

Downloadable Content (DLC) has continued to pick up steam in the video game world, but many are shaking their heads, calling the content a ‘money grab’, or worse.

I’ll fully admit that I’ve only purchased a handful of DLC packs in my time, and to be honest, I’ve been disatisfied to indifferent with most of them (I’m looking at you, Stimulus Package).  I do have the Dragon Age Origins: Awakenings DLC that I have yet to play, which I have high hopes for.

With that knowledge, here’s my take on the DLC front:  DLC is (generally) good.  Many seem to expect additional content for nothing – this just can’t be done.  It’s simple economics – programmers/designers need to get paid.  You’ll note that I said generally.  Some execeptions have popped up that leave me scratching my head.  For instance, Assassin’s Creed 2 apparently (based on my readings on the subject, not experience) shipped with two less chapters that were developed alongside the original game, which were released as DLC later.  This is clearly insanity.

Take Borderlands and Fallout 3, for an example.  The DLC packs add significant amounts of play to the game for a pretty reasonable price for each.  I think more companies need to be doing DLC in this manner.  I really find the argument that these DLC packs should have been included in the original game naive.

Day one DLC/on disc content unlocks is another issue that many complain about.  I really understand the complaint on this issue and I have to agree, to an extent.  If the content is on the disc, it should be playable immediately without additonal charges (in most circumstances).  If the content is actually downloaded on day one, I think in most circumstances that content could not make it on the disc because of development timelines – I truly believe that.  It sucks and makes the game feel unfinished to consumers though.

However, concepts like EA’s “Project $10″ or whatever you want to call it are ok in my book.  I’m not sure I agree with charging to access online play (especially on the Xbox 360, which has a fee to use already), but providing additional content much like Mass Effect 2 did.  I understand the desire for game companies to get a piece of the used game market – I can’t blame them.  Time will tell on if this will be effective.

Ultimately, DLC is up to YOU, the consumer.  If you don’t like it – don’t buy any of it.  Companies will get the point when people stop buying this additional content, if consumers really don’t want it.  I suspect that consumers do want DLC – companies just need to look to games that have done DLC right.

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