The Changing Face of DLC

Back when the idea of Downloadable Content was just a sparkle in someone’s eye we [as gamers] approached the idea with caution. That grumbling feeling we had in our stomachs was proved right when Oblivions’ now infamous Horse armour update went live. Many feared the baseline had been set, but thankfully along the way, the yin balanced with the yang, and the face of DLC as knew it changed.

Of course, we still received some bits of DLC that many have claimed was more suited to a lower price point, or should have been available at launch.  Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was a recent game that left many who purchased the update with a little sour taste in the mouth, and the list goes on. That said, there is some good out there.

Criterion have been great supporting their Burnout Paradise title, with a number of updates that despite being considerable in size were on offer for the fantastic price of free. Grand Theft Auto IV had its Lost and Damned update hit for a massive 1600MSP, yet the sheer amount of work that went into it left many a gamer lauding over it with praise after praise.

You can give a gamer some DLC…

It’s clear that DLC can be good and bad, but perhaps it’s the knock on effects that releasing some DLC has that is becoming important now.

Criterion is a good example, having released their first few updates for a price of nothing, their announcement that the Big Surf Island update would come with a cost wasn’t met with howls of disgust, but with honourable mentions of “Yeah that sounds fine, you’ve supported us well so far – I don’t mind paying”. Of course it helped the update was rather good, and it remains to be seen what would have been the case if it was below par.

Thanks to some Energy Drinks (I know, it confuses me as well) we know that the first batch of Modern Warfare 2 DLC (Surprise: It’s a map pack!) will be released in Spring 2010, even though the games not even out yet and won’t be for approximately another 6 weeks. For a game that’s been blasted already for the ‘fleecing of fans’ over its higher than normal RRP, you can imagine many fans of the series might be somewhat disheartened to hear about paying for some more DLC before they’ve even paid for the actual game. But when you have a game that’s so wildly anticipated, and will no doubt sell by the millions and have a collector’s edition that sells for the equivalent of three standard games, I guess you’re in the position to do what you want.

Sometimes one wheel is better than two
Sometimes one wheel is better than two

In all I think DLC has reached a state where one could compare it to a six sided Dungeons and Dragons Dice, there’s a chance you could roll the six and a five and slay the dragon and unlock some really nice extra content for a game that would otherwise be sat on your shelf, or you could perhaps strike out and roll a three and a two only to find that you’ve just wasted your cyber money on something that perhaps should have been available from the start.

If done right it’s brilliant, the extra content gets the game back in your console or PC, and from the developers point of view probably helps starve off a bit of the preowned market if the game is supported well enough. Do it badly, though, and not only is the game’s reputation hit but so too is the developers’ – just ask Bethesda.







9 responses to “The Changing Face of DLC”

  1. Rhyle avatar

    Couldn’t agree more regarding the hit and miss nature of DLC. The feeling that companies are deliberately holding content back (just like IW with MW2) is a great point – why not include in the game in the first place?

    However, companies like Criterion Games and Bethesda with Burnout Paradise and Fallout 3 respectively show how it should be done – wait until you’ve got the right info on what needs doing from your community and enhance your players experience through application of that feedback.

    Both games have had extensive support and I’ve bought everything for both bar the party pack for BP – and I’m not alone, a sure sign that with the right content and price point DLC gets the numbers.

  2. Rhyle avatar

    Oh…and my personal bugbear with DLC? Paying a fiver for Darth Vader in Soul Calibur IV. They couldn’t even be asked to port his cut scenes over. EXPENSIVE.

  3. Lorna avatar

    Some, as with Mirror’s Edge and Big Surf Island has been great, and then on the other hand we have the Fable 2 offerings which seemed woefully short and overhyped. In general I am a fan of DLC, extending a game’s life but as you say, it can seem like luck of the draw.

  4. Ramsden avatar

    I find the best approach is to just not buy DLC straight away. Wait a while and see what other people say about it. Also, if there are any major bugs, as there was with some of the Fallout 3 packs, waiting can save your save file because the problem gets patched before you can even encounter it. I tend to wait a month or two before I get any DLC now and read the reviews, and it has resulted in getting screwed over much less often.

  5. MarkuzR avatar

    I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with DLC really. I found the Fable 2 stuff to be lacking somewhat… the game itself wasn’t immersive or “big” enough for me, so I was hoping that the DLC would give it that edge that wasn’t there from the outset. Unfortunately, I felt very let down by it and so I’ve still not bought the last set of DLC.

    I really enjoyed the DLC for Fallout 3, and it’s sad to think that there won’t be any more released. I found Point Lookout to be the most fun, due to the sheer size of it, although the others had their own unique qualities that made them worthwhile.

    The Oblivion DLC were great for extending the game and giving options which weren’t available prior to their release but Battlethorn, for example, just wasn’t really a worthwhile quest… sure, you got the Castle at the end of it but the gameplay that came along with it wasn’t really much to write home about.

    I was foolish enough to buy ALL the DLC for Burnout Paradise and can’t understand why anyone would want the Cops & Robbers content – it’s lacking in so many ways I can’t even begin to describe. The only vehicles I actually use out of ALL the packs are the Delorian and KITT… the others just don’t do it for me. Big Surf Island though… now that’s a great bit of DLC :))

  6. Rhyle avatar

    I enjoy Cops & Robbers! Yes, it’s limited but played with the right people and it’s a lot of fun! As for the cars, the only ones to have disappointed are the toy cars. Cute but pointless. Love the famous car homages and LOVE the Boost Pack cars.

    As for Fable 2 – agreed, the Future add-on in particular was Lionhead getting you to pay to watch a trailer for Fable 3. Nice.

  7. Danny avatar

    One thing that I’m finding unacceptable is paying for “DLC” content that is actually on the disc. The main example that comes to mind is Beautiful Katamari on the 360. Each piece of DLC is just an unlock key (I doubt an entire Katamari level clocks in at under 1MB) – I even rememember the trailer for the game pimping out DLC before the game itself was out! I still bought all of it though… ;_;

    I’m also a little weary of Day-1 DLC. Fair enough if it’s content that they couldn’t fit on the disc (although that’s unlikely) or if it was content that was made between the disc going gold and being released (more likely), but it still stirs up quite the whiff.

    Pricing still isn’t quite right either. While the GTAIV DLC is undoubtedly worth the price, only some of the Fable II / Fallout 3 DLC are worth shelling out for. Surely Bethesda realise that Broken Steel adds a great deal more to the Fallout 3 experience than Operation: Anchorage?

  8. Rhyle avatar

    Danny – I certainly agree with your first two points – unlocks and day one DLC is outrageous, showing a mercenary approach to making a quick buck.

    Fable 2, as I’ve previously mentioned, is certainly expensive but Fallout 3 – I have to disagree here. Granted Broken Steel does add more to the experience than Anchorage or (the worst of the 5 imo) Zeta but I feel Steel is cheap rather than the others expensive – £5.60 for 4 – 6 hours gameplay isn’t to bad is it? And of course, the DLC released after Steel was better value because of the new perks, level raise, equipment etc that Steel included. It’s swings and roundabouts a bit but I don’t regret a single penny spent on Fallout 3 – mainly because each pack was different from the last and the content in the main game and greatly extended and improved what was a great game in the first place.

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