Sunday, 12 April 2015

GUEST ARTICLE - Downloadable Content: It's Certainly Not a Four Letter Word, but It Should Be - By Shawn Saint

As an older gamer who started out forming his passion for gaming on the Atari 2600 and having his world rocked as a young man by consoles such as the original Nintendo and Sega Genesis, I had the good fortune of many years of enjoying video games in what I consider it's purest and best form: Complete At Launch.

Those were the years of gaming where when you bought a game, there was no CD keys to prove that you actually bought a copy. There was no mandatory online connections so you could have DRM shoved down your throat. There was no constantly trying to make sure that you weren't illegally pirating games, and most importantly; When a game shipped it was the final product. You were given what you paid for, whole and complete and that was it. So what happened? Well, one of the most under rated consoles is to blame, in my opinion, The Sega Dreamcast.


Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

"The Dreamcast was the first console to feature online support as a standard; DLC was available, though limited in size due to the narrowband connection and the size limitations of a memory card. These online features were still considered a breakthrough in video games, but the competing PlayStation 2 did not ship with a built-in network adapter. With the advent of the Xbox, Microsoft was the second company to implement downloadable content. Many original Xbox titles, including Splinter Cell, Halo 2 and Ninja Gaiden offered varying amounts of extra content, available for download through the Xbox Live service. Most of this content, with the notable exception of content for Microsoft-published titles, was available for free."

So loosely translated, break out the pitchforks and hunt down Sega and Microsoft if you are tired of the out of control DLC practices that are happening today.

What are these out of control practices, you may ask? Well for starters lets take a look at a game that came out recently called Evolve, where the game was built from the ground up to be a DLC supporters wet dream. Released February 10th 2015, the base game launched with a US price tag of $60, but here, just 2 months later, there is already $140.81 of DLC




Another really bad example of DLC abuse is a game called Rocksmith which has a brain exploding $659.30 amount of DLC



Just in case you are inclined to say "But Shawn, it's Rocksmith, a game that teaches you how to play a real guitar. So if you are big into that sort of thing the cost of the individual songs you want are a good investment!" ... Take a look at our next offender: Dead or Alive: Final Round, which features $119.98 of costume changes alone!



Downloadable Content, something that should be about adding worthwhile content to games, has become nothing more than developers and publishers trying desperately to insert a vacuum into our wallets to suck up every loose bill it can find. These are but three examples of games that are just simply ridiculous in how they try to suck each and every dollar out of uninformed fans and consumers of video games. There are sadly many more examples of this but I'm here to write an article, not a novel, and believe me when I say that if I were to list all the offenses of crappy DLC I'd have a series longer than the Encyclopedia Britannica.

So what is good DLC? I would have to say legitimate Expansion Packs. DLC that adds hours of new playable content that expands what should be a game that is whole and complete to begin with. I am not completely against added weapons and costume packs, but they should be a part of something more than just "Hey there, you want a shiny new gun? $5.99 please! Don't forget to purchase our new clothing option that matches the color of that new gun for $7.99! .... Just never mind the fact that if you do buy these items and your friends don't you will be unable to play with them online anymore until they too purchase our new content and can join in on all the fun!"

Let's just skip over the fact that games that are literally released half complete then try to sell you the other half as DLC ( I'm looking at you Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City ) and ask ourselves what is it that we, as consumers, really want out of DLC and how it can be a good thing instead of the hemorrhaging hemorrhoid it's become.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all DLC is bad and that it needs to go away. There are a few notable good examples of DLC such as Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare, Far Cry 3's Blood Dragon, Assassins Creed: Black Flag's Freedom Cry and InFamous 2's Festival of Blood, and even more which are all legitimate, stand alone expansions for games that offer a ton of content to begin with. So don't think that I'm needlessly hating on all DLC and think that it should be done away with completely.

Sadly the only thing we can really do to combat this problem of horrific DLC practices is not only complain to the makers of the horrible DLC, but (and here's the hard part) Not buy it. Unless companies get that feedback, and it's not blatantly shoved into their faces that these practices are wrong and unwanted, they will keep doing it. Kind of like how everyone knows what a joke Call of Duty is now, and believe me, I'm sure that Activision is very aware of how sick people are of it. They get bombarded with complaints every day. Then again they also see the game selling and selling and selling, so until people start voting with their wallets, nothing is going to change. 

So let me ask you, dear reader, what do you consider good DLC? What other complete garbage DLCs are there? Be sure to list examples and if you have any DLC horror stories to share please send them my way at www.google.com/+ShawnSaint or @theshawnsaint on Twitter