Published on February 22nd, 2015 | by gareth2
The Arguments For And Against DLC From A Gamer’s And Publishers Perspectives
Recently a reader asked me what I thought of the state of DLC or downloadable content in the gaming industry. He specifically had an issue with EVOLVE which had launched with several skins and other DLC content and believed that much of that DLC should have been included in the game at launch.
I told him I would have to think about it and would write up my thoughts which is what I am doing so now. I remember the days before the internet when a successful game would have an expansion pack or two. This was done as a way to offer more content to players without incurring the cost of a full blown sequel. This also allowed developers to earn revenue for new projects while keeping the fans happy and extending the life of a game.
Usually the expansions were things like a new but smaller campaign, more maps, and other tweaks. Doom and Quake were masters at this as they released new content for the games on a regular basis which in a way gave Activision a template for the process Call of Duty follows by having four sets of maps and bonus items available during the year leading up to the next game in the series.
Borderlands is also another good example of plenty of DLC that is supportive of the game in that it offers new missions and content but does not go nuts with things like skins and items that one could argue belong in the final game.
I think to look at the question as fairly as possible you have to look at both sides of the issue. From a publisher and developer point of view, DLC is a cash cow that can help recoup development and promotional costs for a game as well as any follow up games and new material the companies are working on.
A game that sells less than expected can make up losses by having plenty of DLC available and if a demand is seen and DLC is supported by the gaming public for a title, then it only makes good business sense to keep offering up as much as the public will buy.
On the other hand going back to Call of Duty, I remember when new maps were free and included with updates. It was a way that developers said thank you to the fans and it was common for PC users to get the maps free even when console versions had been charging their users for the same new material.
From the standpoint of a gamer, I can see DLC being a dual-edged sword. Some like the fact that they can purchase new items, customizations, maps, and so on without being forced to buy things they do not want. For the most part if you do not want weapon or character customizations then do not buy them. If you want new maps you can buy a season pass or pick up the packs you are interested in.
The issue comes when games have a short run time and a lack of features. When a game launches with tons of DLC on day one, it is easier for consumers to be upset as they will say that since the material was obviously ready to go, then some if not all of it should have been included in the release of the game. Nothing will rile up a consumer more than a $59.99 game that has a short gameplay and is lacking multiplay or a solo campaign where they are forced to spend $$$ if they want to see any type of enhancement or extension of their initial investment.
Let us not forget the micro-transactions that were so big in years past where gamers complained that is some games, Dead Space 3, it is very difficult to complete aspects of the game without obtaining certain items via purchase.
Switching back to the developers and publishers, they will say that with the rising costs of games today, that in order to keep a $59.99 price point they need to have the revenue from DLC as if this was to be included it would drive up the price points which in turn would hurt sales as some people simply will not pay $75.00-$100.00 for a game no matter how much is included and doing so would result in losses and fewer AAA titles on the market.
In support of the consumer I do believe that there should be some standard as a game lacking multiplay and having a short play time of 5-6 hours should not cost $59.99 no matter how good the game and gameplay is. Those games should run $39.99 or at the least offer some form of future content free.
In the end it is a trend that looks like it is here to stay as at the end of the day, developers/publishers will say that they are not forcing anyone to purchase DLC and that they are simply providing what the public wants and they are under no obligation to purchase it. However when you have paid for a game and are stuck with it upon completion, especially one with limited replay value, many consumers will look at DLC as a way to justify their initial investment in a game.
I think the happy medium would be for more free content to be made for gamers at launch, perhaps free stuff for those who purchase a game within the first 30 days of launch and for developers to include more items at launch as well as lowering the price point to half of what the current prices area. This would allow more consumers to be more included to purchase DLC now and in the future.