Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Is DLC the scourge of gamers?

Remember the old days when you’d head down to your local game store to pick up the latest must-have title (before the days of ebay and internet shopping)? And remember the excitement as you played it relentlessly and finally made it through to the final boss? Remember how even when you’d completed the game you would still happily wring out countless hours of enjoyment by replaying each and every level?

Sadly, those halcyon days are but a distant memory now. Is value for money a thing of the past? Certainly, the world of gaming has changed; longevity has been replaced with brevity. Call me cynical but nowadays the full retail version of a game seems almost a temporary stop gap until some costly DLC or the inevitable annual update becomes available.

The games of yesteryear used to last until the cartridge or disc broke, or at least until you opted for a newer, flashier console. You didn’t even contemplate having to spend more money to upgrade the game after a few months, or worry that it wouldn’t be too long before its multiplayer options would be switched off (yes, EA, I'm looking at you!). Back then, a game was for life.

Sports sims are perhaps the exception as they’ve been annually updated since the beginning of time. Even in the days of the Megadrive, you could expect a new iteration of FIFA Soccer or NHL hockey, but at least the next version was suitably different from the last.

Nowadays, everything is temporary. Take Call of Duty, for example, and the eagerly anticipated – and record breaking – release each and every year from Infinity Ward or Treyarch. Granted they included new storylines and environments but they both regularly fail to really tread new ground or innovate. Each developer recycles the tried and tested formula, and just does enough to outdo the another.

Very seldom does an entirely new IP hit the shelves, largely because production costs are too great and the potential losses are vast if it fails to excite the gaming public. Sequels are commonplace. Just look at some of the big releases this year... Portal 2, Gears of War 3, Uncharted 3, Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Dungeon Siege III, Red Faction Armageddon... the list goes on.

And what about DLC and all those episodic updates - L.A Noire has been churning them out lately, and Fallout New Vegas has seen some new content too. Then there are the "ultimate" or "special" edition games that hit the shelves soon after the original - Capcom recently released yet another special edition of Street Fighter IV!

All these updates and DLC have clearly become big business but are gamers getting a raw deal? Shouldn’t a game that hits the shelves be a comprehensive package and not need all these add-ons? It really grates when DLC is released so soon after a launch and makes you question whether the extra content should have been bundled with the game in the first place.

When I pay all that money - and have supported that company throughout the years buying all their wares - I'd like to think that I'd get a little DLC thrown in for free. I'm not asking a lot, maybe just a regular patch or a few free maps every now and again? Shouldn’t in-game costumes or weaponry be awarded for free, perhaps depending on progress or hours played? Wouldn’t it be great if you could be awarded DLC as you reach a landmark in your gamerscore?

And why couldn’t a new version of a game detect that you own previous editions and give you some sort of bonus content or allow you to carry over your hard-earned skills or abilities (Mass Effect 2 successfully did this – shouldn’t others incorporate this feature?).

Us gamers are already paying through the nose for content. When I buy a game, I want it to last, I want it to be complete and I don't want to have to double my outlay within a few months with add-ons. I'd suggest you probably can have too much
of a good thing!

4 comments:

While there are fools are there willing to pony up the cash time and time again then the industry wil continue to rip the customers off.

I don't mind DLC if I feel it adds to the overall experience of the game. After a certain point with FPS style games DLC of maps doesn't add too much because they charge too much. DLC for RPG's seem just about right. The DLC that I felt had the most value was for Red Dead Redemption and GTA IV.

I dont think there is anything wrong with DLC, much to the opposite, I think its a great thing, especially for short ass games like COD and any other FPS tbh! The problem is people like Activision charging you £10 for some stupid maps, 3 map packs have come out now and all priced at £10. If you buy all three packs thats as much as the full game!! Its a complete rip-off! DLC should be done the right way, R* lead the way! RDR DLC baby!! they are brilliant, THATs what DLC should be about!

Halo 3 has had plenty of free map packs, which is great value for money, clearly. At the other end of the scale, both of GTA IV's DLC were pretty much games in their own right, and well worth the money.

It's the middle ground where you're paying for something that stinks of cheap cash-in. Two of Fallout 3's otherwise excellent DLC packs were so clunky you thought they'd been made by the work experience kid. Equally annoying is fake DLC like you got with Resi 5. If it's already on the disc I bought at the shop, then I've paid for it already, don't have the cheek to charge me a second time for something that clearly fell under your initial budget.