Battlefield bad company 2 is the only modern Triple A game to do DLC right. you buy the game new you get it free. you buy a used copy you have to pay for it. but I'm a PC gamer for 17 years. I never had to pay for map packs and crap like that before the 360 toy came out.
So, I got a lot of comments on my previous blog on micro-transactions regarding DLC, and while that wasn't the topic of the blog, it did have a bit of relevance to the conversation I was trying to start (to varying degrees of success). Instead of writing out my thoughts on DLC (as a separate idea from micro-transactions) in the comments of my previous blog, I decided to write them as a new blog because I have a lot to say.
Now, let me get this out there, while I do not care about micro-transactions in my game, I do take a different stance on DLC. I don't hate it by any means. In fact, there's quite a few games where I welcome it. However, there are, of course, companies that abuse the practice of DLC, and I feel that gamers focus far too much on those companies' practices. The general consensus about DLC from what I've seen is that DLC is pure evil and should not be tolerated in games. It's always content that should have been included in the original release of the game and now [insert developer] is nickel and diming its fanbase with content excluded from the original game.
I like DLC when it's done right. And believe me, there are developers out there who do it right.
To me, DLC is a wonderful opportunity for developers to extend a player's time spent with a particular game in a meaningful way. Whether it's adding new missions, maps, characters, or gameplay modes, DLC can make for some surprisingly great experiences in games you might have forgotten about.
Please note that I used the word "opportunity". In no way, shape, or form do I believe that every single piece of DLC out there matches what I believe it should be idealistically. No, for every Fire Emblem: Awakening (a game that makes proper use of DLC) out there we have two Capcom titles that has on-disc DLC. For every Mass Effect 3 we have three shooters that charge $15 for new maps every 2 months.
What I admire in Fire Emblem: Awakening and Mass Effect 3's DLC policy is that there is a mixture of substantial, meaningful free content as well as paid content. I will go into detail into both of these games later, but I want to note that there are many developers out there that should look at these two titles and take notes. There has been some very positive reception for them both.
Fire Emblem: Awakening's DLC exists in two forms: the "bonus box" and the "outer realms". The bonus box is where gamers will receive their free content, and the outer realms is where you can buy DLC maps and challenges. Now, typically a developer would have the bonus box include a sparse amount of content. It would exist only to entice a gamer to buy more DLC maps, but this is not the case with Fire Emblem: Awakening. The bonus box includes (as of today) seven challenge maps, approximately forty recruit-able characters from past Fire Emblem titles (all with their own army for you to fight), two rare weapons for your army to use, and two bonus paralogue (side missions) chapters, where you can recruit villains from the game's main story to your army. And, if we're going to get everything Japan got in their bonus box, there's a hell of a lot more to come. For free.
The DLC that is paid for is quality, as well. It includes maps where you must fight armies comprised entirely of past Fire Emblem characters, maps where you can harvest loads of experience, gold, and legendary weapons, and in Japan there are maps that constitute entirely new storylines. However, even though these maps exist, the game does not feel incomplete without them. They exist to augment your game, rather than dangle a bit of content in front of your face that the game feels incomplete without (ala Resident Evil 5's multiplayer mode).
Mass Effect 3 does what most multiplayer-focused games (NOT that Mass Effect is multiplayer-focused) should do with its multiplayer DLC and makes it completely free. I remember when I used to have my Xbox 360 and was a frequent player of Halo: Reach and feeling cheated when I had to fork over $15 for 3 new multiplayer maps (for the record, I never paid for it). Or even in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (when I used to play those games), when extra maps meant extra money. At the time, it was an OK practice in my eyes because I didn't really see the issue with charging for the time the CoD devs spent making those new maps. After seeing how Mass Effect 3 handled their multiplayer DLC, I don't understand why other devs won't follow suit. Clearly you can make your new maps, characters and weapons free and not lose any money, otherwise Bioware wouldn't be doing it. The only time I ever paid for new maps was in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and I will never do it again after my experience with Mass Effect 3's surprisingly good multiplayer.
Say what you want about Mass Effect 3's day-one DLC, From Ashes (I do think it should have come with the initial price tag, but some people were OK with it being paid-for. The game does feel incomplete without Javik.) but it does its paid-for DLC, for the most part, correctly. It's substantial, and that's what we should be asking for when paying for something. Quality can be debated upon (I think Leviathan and Omega were sub-par) but one cannot argue that the game feels incomplete without them.
DLC is done incorrectly when it is clear that some desirable part of the game has been arbitrarily withheld from the players in order to make some more money off of it. Capcom is the most frequent offender of this scheme, with many of their titles having DLC that's already on-disc, but blocked off from the players (unless they pay). It's unfair to fans of the game, whether it be holding off two fighters from Marvel vs Capcom 3 or multiplayer mode in Resident Evil 5. The game is complete, we just can't play the whole thing unless we play $5 or $10 more. That's cheating, and that's what I have a problem with.
What's ultimately abusive about on-disc DLC is that what's usually withheld is something that gamers will really want. It becomes irresistible because of its relatively low price, and people will buy into it. I admit, I did buy Jill and Shuma-Gorath in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 because I hated seeing two grayed out portraits in their places on the character select screen.
What I feel is really important to remember when talking about DLC is that not all DLC is bad (even though that's the popular opinion). The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a wonderful example of a game where both good and bad DLC exist. Yes, there was that really crappy Horse Armor DLC, but there were also full-on expansions available (ala The Shivering Isles) that allowed you to spend more time in the game's universe, something that many people valued. If done right, DLC can be a very good thing, and I feel we need to stop focusing on the bad.
Battlefield bad company 2 is the only modern Triple A game to do DLC right. you buy the game new you get it free. you buy a used copy you have to pay for it. but I'm a PC gamer for 17 years. I never had to pay for map packs and crap like that before the 360 toy came out.
If you have nothing against microtransactions then you're a bigot to claim there are ways to do and not do downloadable content. Double standards...
@Meta-Gnostic A microtransaction is fundamentally different from DLC. Micro-transactions merely activate some sort of boost or bonus in your game for a small fee. DLC is supposed to add content and longevity to a game, microtransactions are merely for short bursts. It is completely feasible to have separate opinions on both and not contradict yourself.
By the way, the definition of "bigot" is "a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion." Which is anything but true about me and has absolutely nothing to do with my opinions on microtransactions and DLC.
What people want are expansion packs really. Expansion packs delivered over the internet. The original idea of DLC - small pieces of downloadable content - isn't really what gamers want because it always comes out so soon it feels like it was made before the game released anyway. Feels like a cop-out, and sometimes it is.
DLC in any form (Except when it's used as a means to download an entire game Expansion) is complete and utter bullshit. 90% of what is sold as DLC used to be things that you would just unlocke by getting good at the game in past generations.. Costumes, Characters, bonus levels, weapons, doesn't anyone else remember when all of these things were unlocked through skill instead of money? It's really ridiculous that people are accepting this in any fashion because it's just going to lead to MORE of the same bullshit nickel and diming. For example, look at the whole Kickstarter trend. I give it two years at the most until EA steps up to the plate and says, "you know what guys? if you want the next Call of Duty game, you all are going to fund it before we even start production!" People, these companies don't care about us as consumers, they care about our wallets, and every time we give them an inch (say, buying 'decent' DLC) they are going to take a MILE (Disc Locked DLC, Missing Story Segments, Missing Story Related CHARACTERS, Costumes that cost real money instead of being unlockables... Hell, I'm still waiting for them to charge you monthly just to USE their console for single player games like people who pay their cable bill.)
@Xx_Kares_xX Sssssshhh!! Dont say thing's like "I'm still waiting for them to charge you monthly just to USE their console for single player games like people who pay their cable bill" Out loud, they'll get ideas :(
@dbene Even so it was a big part of the game that was withheld... There was dialogue referring to it when playing without DLC. But agree those were more important to the story. Just wish all the DLC wasn't the price of the game new again to be able to play additional content that is nowhere near the length of the full game
I liked FFXIII-2 and for the most part I like Square Enix, but tacking on different character episodes that should have already been included in an already short game was just BS. I only bought the outfits and the Lightning Episode and really, anything else was a bit of a rip-off.
For the most part, I can't stand DLC. Take TR's new multiplayer maps. I doubt more than 500 people will buy them.
Mostly because those are 90% of the companies using DLC. We don't complain about the good uses of DLC, as few and far between as they are.
I equate DLC to smaller and digital versions of expansion packs. For lots of games, such as Mass Effect, Fallout, Elder Scrolls etc., DLC adds content the way expansion packs used to. It gives you something more to do after you're through with the main game and is usually worth their price.
Cosmetic DLC, such as costumes and vehicle/weapon unlocks aren't exactly "essential" as they make little or no difference to your core game experience.Games are fully playable without those weapons and costumes, and no one is obliged to buy them. These DLC are more like cosmetic items for an Xbox LIVE avatar; if you're willing to pay for virtual clothes for your virtual self, you shouldn't be complaining if you need to pay for virtual clothes for a game character. And if you don't think the DLC is worth the money, don't buy it.
On-disc DLC is no different from Day 1 DLC imo. Whether the content is included on the disc or not, fact is that the publishers want to sell that piece of content separately from the main game. By putting it on the disc, they're simply cutting costs by removing the need for it to be downloaded. And it makes little difference to me whether the said DLC is released on Day 1 or Day 100. It's simply extra content for me.
@alext_b There is no cost to making something downloaded. Any data costs these companies pay, or the fee to put DLC on XBL/PSN, is completely insubstantial.
No DLC is justified for me. If you want to add content, then by all means create an expansion after some months.
I have to agree - there's definitely benefits to DLC, as long as it's done right (yes, it is possible.)
Think back to before the internet really kicked in, at least in terms of gaming. DLC has ALWAYS existed, but back then it existed as physical expansion packs. Same principle, different distribution technique.
The difference back then was that the extra costs of distributing a physical release necessitated some actual effort in creating a worthwhile experience. DLC these days can be released at little to no cost distribution-wise, switching the devs' emphasis to quantity instead of quality.
Day 1 DLC is just ridiculous. I can understand the argument that the game is usually finished a little while before release, potentially opening up time to create something new before release, however, it's only the lack of distribution costs now that allow them to do so. A lot of devs these days take advantage of this development in order to also take advantage of consumers.
Later DLC can totally revitalise or expand a game if devs think like they used to in the days of expansion packs. This is now much more rare than it should be, but when it occasionally happens, generally it's pretty damn well received (think Shivering Isles, Guild Wars expansions, etc).
That's the single player situation, multiplayer business works a little differently. In my view, it overlaps heavily with the ever increasing prominence of F2P gaming - another business model that is often done very, very wrong.
I think Mass Effect 3 demonstrates an almost perfect example of how it should be done: Free expansions (maps, characters, weapons, factions, features, mechanics, all of it) every now and then, supported NOT by the SP DLC as some would believe, but by their F2P style unlock system. The key is this: Everything can be unlocked without paying, albeit with a fair amount of time and commitment! Everything can also be unlocked by paying. The point is it's a choice, not a necessity. The only thing you gain by paying is time. There are enough players willing to pay (and ok with paying) that it effectively subsidizes the entire playerbase, benefitting players, devs, and the game alike.
Many F2P models get it wrong by adopting this too aggressively - witholding important features that cannot be unlocked (or are unreasonable to unlock) without paying. Which brings us back round in a nice little circle to on-disc/Day 1 DLC. It's all linked to the same ideas.
And while we're on it, COD is quite possibly the worst example of DLC I've seen, utterly deplorable.
Day One DLC just does not feel right. I've never forked out for it, I really wanted the From Ashes DLC though.
The developer that comes to mind when I think of DLC done right is actually Bethesda, with the expansions they did for Oblivion and Fallout (And now Skyrim), Knight of the nine, the shivering isles etc
@macca366 Day One DLC is and always will be a massive rip-off to the loyal fans who buy the game. Either share it FREE, or keep it back until its FAR more substantial...THEN offer it for a price. Most folk would be willing to pay IMO
The thing is that you physically cant do DLC right, someone will always think it is too early, too late, too small, too expensive, etc. You can do DLC better than someone else, but it will never be done "right".
@burrito_tester You can please some of the people, some of the time. But you cannot please ALL the people ALL the time. Its about balance, content Vs Price.
DLC wouldn't be a big problem if the game companies were purposely taking away modding tools. They take away the modding tools because they know that some random, amateur programmer group of friends could up with better "expansions" for free. Look at Battlefield 3. Zero mod support, and do you remember the kind of mods people came up with for Battlefield 2? They were easily on par with the expansions that Battlefield 3 came up with. DLC itself isn't bad, but when the trend is going to day-1 DLC while taking away modding tools, don't be a naive child and ignore the obvious.
Not all multi-player games can seriously offer free DLC. ME3 could do it because they sold single-player DLC. Also, ME3's server costs are most certainly far less intensive than BF or COD. Multiplayer focused games don't have the luxury of selling 3-4 hr long single player expansions. Also, From Ashes was free for collector's edition buyers. No complaints here.
I think DLC has a purpose and a place in gaming, and despite the hate emanating from a rather large horde of gamers on interwebs, much of which I must say is blind, DLC isn't going away. Over the course of this console generation, there have been a fair share of hits and misses when it comes to DLC. I think the concept is still in teething stages. Some publishers have made missteps, big and small, but in years to come, we'll almost certainly see less of that (from Capcom, Atlas, and NIS, in particular).
Regardless, I've never looked at a game with DLC and considered it incomplete. Not once. Not ever. Even the few Capcom games I've bought this gen. I buy a game, I have the game. Anything else comes with a choice. Whether or not I accept and purchase said DLC depends purely on my interest in each piece of DLC. I've bought DLC for FFXIII-2, Arkham City, AC2, DOA5, Enslaved, Deus Ex: HR, Prince of Persia, Tales of Graces f... and more. All of which I bought after making a clear choice. The only one I recall being disappointed with was Tales of Graces f costume DLC that you couldn't see during cut-scenes, and was rather overpriced in the end.
I've never felt that a single piece of DLC is mandatory, or that it must be an essential part of the original purchase. Those feelings, in my view, come down purely to one's own expectation and wants. Sometimes, players may genuinely feel like they aren't getting value for their money, other times, putting it bluntly, it boils down to greed. Some people's reaction: "I bought game + DLC exists = it 'should' have been part of game".
Game = What you bought
DLC = Stuff you didn't buy
On-Disc DLC = May not sound very pleasing, and I agree, its shit and publishers need to stop with it, but again, you get what you pay for either way. Whether you're downloading a big pack or a small unlock code makes little difference when all is said and done. Its extra crap you can do without if you choose.
@Lhomity Plenty of games offered free DLC when it was called "modding" instead of "DLC". Don't want to give us free DLC? Fine. Don't. But give back mod kits so we can make our own. Oh, right, I guess giving away mod kits would also eat away at their costs, right?
@rann89 @Lhomity Times have changed. Games cost millions, in some cases tens of millions, more to develop now. There are also numerous problems with giving out mod kits for games with dedicated online services, not to mention the sheer complexity of the coding and security that goes into many games today. Modding was never commonplace, and never will be. Most places where you see it these days is in the form of UI mods for MMOs, and that is perhaps where modding will remain for years to come. Of course, sometimes game still offer level editors and the like. Then of course, there titles like Minecraft and Littlebigplanet which offer you far more freedom than "modding" tools have ever allowed.
Its also worth mentioning that some games this gen have offered free DLC, big and small. Generally however, it should come as no surprise that when a dev team is spending additional time and resources planning, developing and promoting additional content for games, its likely to come at a price for them to deliver it, and a price for us to play it.
Most developers don't use DLC right, I mean we have come to a time where DLC trailers for a game are shown even before the actual game comes out (The new Walking Dead game, *cough* *cough* Activision) It's very often content that could have beeen included in the game on release. It's just a way to get off extra money from people stupid enough to buy it.
there is no way to do DLC right. the fact that you, or anyone else, would bring DLC up as if it were ok is proof that the publishers have conditioned consumers into believing getting ripped of can somehow be a good thing
I don't think people should ask themselves "why they didn't ship the DLCs with the game?", but rather "Does this game have enough content for its price?". If you feel there is enough content in Forza, you shouldn't criticize them for releasing DLCs. L. A. Noire had season pass and those DLCs were amazing, at the same time, I never felt like the original game was incomplete.
Mod tools. I don't want DLC, I want mod tools. I like to use my brain when I'm gaming, not my wallet, thanks.
Micro transactions are a joke in my mind. Whatever happened to unlocking things by playing the game? Whatever happened to finding hidden areas and secret weapons ect.? They are all replaced by dlc, and micro transactions just throw it in your face.
I feel Id Software did DLC right with RAGE. A $5 dlc, and it was great fun. Skyrim, no matter what you think of the game, does dlc correctly too.
I totally agree with your main contention that some DLC can be good, and decently priced (including at $0 for some type of content). However, it's exactly why I don't agree with your very last sentence. We should definitely focus on the bad, and bash it, so that players know a bit more how to decipher the "good" from the "bad" DLC practice (it's in the end a bit subjective). You know, just give them the knowledge and information about what's being done, a few facts to feed their thoughts, so they can form their own opinion about it... pretty much what you did here. Nice post : )
The thing that bothers me is, ever since DLC was introduced in this generation, I remember looking at downloads that were very small in size. Sure, they were small amounts of content but, MANY of the DLC packages then and even now only amount to a few Kb. I'm no wizard but, I would speculate that Crapcom is not the only offender of the "On disc method". I believe that this has been the approach ever since it's conception, at least for little updates. We need to wake up to this and fix this problem. It's shameful.
I think the kind of DLCs that bethesda releases for Skyrim are perfect. They are basically like mini expansions. And they blend into the game in such a way that it doesn't mess with the dynamics of the base content. I really dislike the insertion of new content partway through the story which would force you to replay if you want to experience that content.
A prime example of DLC abuse are the following:
Final Fantasy Theatrhythm - If the initial game costs $30-40 to purchase, selling an addition $100 in DLC "songs" isn't an addition; it's a detraction.
Tales of Graces f - I get it - you want to dress your characters up in costumes. But, really? $80 in additional DLC, none of which really "adds" anything to the game? A bit much.
Tales of Vesperia - Same thing. Just...ugh.
As I don't play MMORPGs, FPS, or really anything involving 'online play,' I'm almost frequently caught off guard by being asked to purchase DLC by a company for something that, ten or fifteen years ago, would've just been included in the game in the first place.
Bottom line: If you can't take the time to release a completed game with an appropriate amount on content to keep your gamers playing at your initial product launch, don't put out the game.
Oh yeah. Love the point on rallying against on disc. Its suprising Western enterprises show better examples of principle in this measure than Capcom. But then there are lots of other bones to pick we as consumers have with all these companies.
Ideal situation: extensive RPG or adventure where you forsake a seemingly ordinary item for battle waaaaaay late in the game that you badly need and is far too much work and unreasonable to risk all your progress to safari back across the world to get it. (in-game currency in a towne shop would be better but still.)
Unreasonable. You learn absolutely nothing even from the start, experience no hard won skill advancement or hardship and entirely buy your way to victory, the wall street way.
@platinumking320 I **HATE** pay to win, I will be avoiding any game that shows this methodology! Comfort enhancements are one thing (Extra costumes or tunes) that have no impact on game play are one thing (personally I think those are just for money grabbing companies!!), but including an in-game shop to buy that 'item' you cannot be botherd to find or put the effort into unlocking is just rubbish!!
Kingdoms of Amalur has decent DLC. It definately extends the amount of time spent on the game, but it doesn't add any content to the latter portion of the game ( which it desparately needed) or extends the level cap . Of course EA being EA probably wouldn't think about that.
Great blog by the way!
@Earl-of-Death KoA is a classic example of utterly pointless DLC. An RPG in which you can't progress your character with DLC but instead explore new areas with the same character, new areas which were already monumentally messed up to the point you got halfway through the game to discover you outlevelled everything.
Then they release DLC which your character already outlevelled. It absolutely defies belief that KoA should get a mention here at all apart from being a classic example of devs getting everything completely wrong and consumers lapping it up which actually sums up DLC completely.
I had a pretty elaborate comment initially that the site for some reason didn't post.
I'll just say that expansion packs are an example of "well done". The most recent example (and I hope not the last) is Dark Souls' "Artorias of The Abyss). It adds more to the game, but in now way was it a money grab where it's contents were elements stripped from the original final production. It gave new life to a game that was becoming "dated".
EA are in league with the devil. DLC on day one is a disgraceful money grab and I am boycotting every and anything EA for the rest of my gaming life. Rocksteady also did that nonsense with Arkham City.
DLC done "correctly" (as in a fan will appreciate it as opposed to feel insulted) is a good thing, and I don't think many will argue. It is all optional, afterall. But we must wonder exactly how dumb must these publishers think we are if they had faith that we'd remain oblivious to their greed, and have no objection to being charged top price for incomplete products?
@Benny_Blakk Artorias of the Abyss was actually the result of the PC port that everyone was asking for. They finally sat down and did it, even though they had very little experience with PC development, and threw in a bunch of new content. The DLC we got on consoles was actually just a way to make the extra content available to console players without making them (re)purchase the whole PC version.
Now, why can't Capcom do this with Dragon's Dogma? I held off on the original precisely because Capcom just pulls this crap with almost all its games. Glad I did now too, I can grab 'Dark Arisen' (read: 'Gold/Ultimate/Super Dragon's Dogma') once its price bottoms out. I'm to the point where I just won't buy Capcom games anywhere near launch, but I'll get Dark Souls II day 1. It's almost like some publishers don't even realize they have a reputation.