Thursday, February 9, 2012

More about DLC

A friend of mine commented that for anyone who isn't completely familiar with downloadable content--DLC for short--I may want to give a quick rundown of it. Thus, here is an explanation of DLC and the controversy surrounding it.

Downloadable content is exactly what it sounds like: content that can be added to a game through downloading it. Most often, this content--extra costumes, items, weapons, entire game expansions, and more--costs a small amount of money, although some publishers put it out for free. Occasionally, full games are distributed as entirely downloadable.

Microsoft's DLC options for Final Fantasy XIII-2, including new weapons and Coliseum opponents.
The philosophy behind DLC is to expand the game without having to put out an entirely new retail disc. For instance, new scenarios were added to Alan Wake after its original release, adding several hours and some small amounts of plot for around $7 each. Other games have gotten longer expansions, such as Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony, an entirely new scenario that introduces a new, different protagonist from the original game.

Many gamers seem to have a problem with DLC, as can be seen in any gaming website's comment sections for articles dealing with the matter. I'm focusing a lot on Final Fantasy XIII-2 lately because that is what I'm currently playing, but if we look at the comments on an article about the newest DLC for the game, we see comments such as:

  • Total bullshit. This should be on the disc i purchased.
  • Stop buying this garbage and publishers/developers will stop doing it!
  • Instead of finding the hidden arena with hidden bosses underwater or in the dessert. You now find a large steel door with a keyhole, and next to that keyhole is a tag that reads "Pay $5.00 to enter."  Fuck this industry. Where is all the endgame content that helps make a game survive after beating it? Why must you do this?!
Some companies--such as Capcom in Marvel vs. Capcom 3--have put out DLC that is simply a code that unlocks content already on the game's disc. Other companies release DLC that seems to be something that should have been in the original release, such as an additional character for BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins.

That sort of situation seems to be where the criticism of DLC lies: the philosophy behind putting out a game and then releasing content for it soon after instead of including it in the title itself implies corporate greed, and to many gamers, there seems to be a very, very fine line between putting out quality DLC--such as new campaigns in Left 4 Dead 2 over a year after its original release--and charging money for what should have been in the game originally.

So, a quick rundown: downloadable content, or DLC, consists of various bits and pieces of games that are released after any given game is, in an effort to expand on the original title. Unfortunately, companies have begun to pick up the practice of creating DLC that feels as if it belonged in the game in the first place. Gamers heavily criticize this practice, and it is something to be aware of.

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