Love it or hate it, DLC has pretty much become the standard when it comes to game expansions. Is that such a bad thing? Nope, here is why!
There is a lot of controversy nowadays over the market of downloadable content, with more and more titles coming out that have a huge selection of different types of DLC (Downloadable Content) including content that launches with the game’s release. Older gamers are saying how things are so much worse now then back in their day. Why? Because the titles were “complete” or “less buggy back then.” As an older gamer myself, I wish to bring to light some of the reasons why DLC is a good thing.
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In a perfect world, DLC would be free or, at least, wouldn’t exist as loot boxes–however–DLC isn’t an entirely a new concept; essentially it is a modernised take on what old-timers know as expansion packs. An expansion pack is basically just sequel bait for a slightly expanded version of the original game, especially looking at the Street Fighter series or most fighting games in general. Sometime’s game designers would cut some of the levels so they could rush out sequel with content that was intended for the original game. This is why I am a huge fan of the way recent Street Fighter handles DLC; it allows me to pick and choose the characters I wish to purchase without having to completely re-buy the game just because there’s a new mode and a couple of extra characters when there is only maybe one character that I am really interested in playing.
The way that publishers have innovated DLC has also boosted the job market. Folks get to keep their jobs, back in the day game companies often hired developers to do a very specific task, such as creating certain models or levels, etc. Once those parts of the game were created then the developer would have no relevance in the company or the project. DLC allows developers to continue working on the game even after their section is finished with.
We’ve all heard about Day 1 DLC. On the contrary of common opinion, Day 1 DLC doesn’t always mean the content was ready for launch. As I mentioned earlier, once main development is completed, the work can be delegated out to work on the game’s planned expansions immediately after the game goes gold. Not only is this great because it shortens the waiting time for highly anticipated expansions, but it also allows developers to truly iron out all the kinks until the game’s launch day making sure gamers get the best possible experience day 1.
Also, game assets, like a hat or some other cosmetic features, are usually scrapped if they aren’t ready by the time the game goes gold. DLC allows this content to be finished the day after the cutting point so rather than wasting game content, publishers can now just add it into the game as a patch or small free DLC later. This could even end up with the content out at the same time due to the fact it is much simpler to have a small file checked and uploaded online than it is to recall the discs and reprint them.
We didn’t have extra costs back in the day, but now games are super expensive. To argue with this, the base cost of a game has stayed the same for an incredible long time, hell I would say it has even gone down in cost. I still have my old Sonic games with prices tag that says AUD$130. Those game came out in the 90s yet somehow we are selling these even more expensive titles for about AUD$80 today. Microtransactions are something to help balance out the cost of creating these multi-million dollar titles, considering the fact the base game itself hasn’t gone up.
Game developers don’t get that full amount of money you pay for a physical copy in a store; it is split between tax, the store itself, the the developer, and the publisher ie., Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, etc. DLC and microtransactions cut out the middle-man allowing publishers to sell the game a little cheaper. I feel like we would get less push for microtransactions if the cost of games went up. Of course, knowing most of the money grabbers nowadays, this probably wouldn’t be the case but it’s one of the reasons why DLC has to exist.
I do want to spend some time talking about on the disc DLC, more commonly known as Disc Locked Content . This is the worst kind of thing a company can do, if your game already has the files on it then you should release it with the game, otherwise you are just holding the game’s content at a buyer’s random. Although this does happen, it is not super common. For example fighting games get a lot of flack for allegedly locking content, but majority of the time they just set aside the characters names and placement holder content until the real content is finished; this allows the installation of the future DLC to be faster because the folder structure and file system is already allocated so it’s just a simple thing of replacing the old files with the new DLC files.
What are your thoughts on DLC and microtransactions? Love it? Hate it? Indifferent? Let us know in the comments below.