What I think of: DLC

Friday, October 30, 2009 at 5:02 PM

(From Wikipedia: Downloadable content (commonly referred to as DLC) is a form of digital media distributed through the Internet. The phrase is used to refer specifically to content created for video games that is released separately from the main video game release. The phrase has, however, also been used to refer to any type of digital entertainment media distributed online.)

In a nutshell, DLC is content that adds to a videogame. This can essentially be anything from a costume to a mini-expansion, adding hours worth of content to a game for a modest price. Now I don't know when exactly the concept of DLC first came around in the sense we know of them today. It certainly started with the Xbox a good 8 years back. With Xbox LIVE, and consoles finally entering the internet a good 4 years after the PC, being able to download new stuff was not just an damn fine idea. It was downright inevitable.

So, skip a Videogame Generation, and take a look at DLC and it is everywhere. You can't escape it. Developers always say they will give DLC support. If DLC is right there on Day 1 it is praiseworthy. Heck, DLC is now commonly addressed in FAQ on most videogame websites. It is as common as the ridiculous regenerating health. You can't escape it!

But I don't like DLC. On the surface, it is good. More content for just a little bit more cash? What is so wrong with that?

Well, it is when you are charged $4 just to have an Xbox LIVE avatar that it is bad. It is bad when you have to pay for an unlockable costume, or $2 for a single weapon that DLC is bad. Pretty much, it is when instead of given you an opportunity to test your skill at a game you are tested at how thinly you can stretch your wallet that DLC is bad.

In fact, a lot of DLC sucks in this regard. Now, there are some instances where the developer has the balls to not charge you for more. Mainly VALVE - they never charge you for anything beyond the actual game. Portal's challanges? Free update. Team Fortress 2's new hats and guns? Came with a patch. Left 4 Dead's new campaigns? Again, one big update.

The problem with DLC is that it is way too much for too little. Recently, Bioware announced their first DLC for Dragon Age: Origins - Warden's Keep. $7 for a quest that we are assuming will last a few hours.

That is just too much. Think about it - for the PC, Dragon Age's MSRP is $50. The game itself will last a very long time - reviewers say anywhere from 30 to 60 hours on a single playthrough. With additional Origin stories, that could easily be tripled.  That is at minimum of, what, $1 (or less) for every hour.

The DLC is asking for twice the price tag for not even a fraction of the original game's play time! 

Now, do not get me wrong. I fully and completely understand why DLC is a necessity. Videogames are becoming more expensive. Budgets are getting bigger by every year, standards are getting higher. But $50 for a game isn't cutting it any more. Not even $60 is good enough for most console releases. Companies need extra income to stay afloat.

That is where DLC comes in. But the problem is that they are too much. And it is becoming more of an issue where developers may very well cut content from a game to sell it as DLC. It is not ridiculous to assume that one day some big name company will say "Insert Credit Card for Ending".

And players everywhere will do so willingly.