DownLoadable Content (DLC) are very common additions for games these days. They could provide simple in-game skins to full-on extra story content. But has it ever occurred to people how DLCs will impact gaming?
What DLC allow game companies to do is to extend a game’s lifespan a little bit longer by offering more content for the players. These can be welcoming if it enhances the overall end user experience. Gears of War 3 released several campaign DLCs, one of which allowed players to play as General RAAM, the main antagonist of the very first game. This extra story was received reasonably well. Similar character stories are available for download in Final Fantasy XIII-2. However, for some strange reason, the casino is not playable unless you download the extra content. But it’s not game breaking as that has nothing to do with the main story nor does it ruin your experience too much.
Some genres will however, benefit from DLCs. Fighting genres typically have a lot of tweaking after a game is released for rebalancing. They can only do this after seeing how people are playing the game – there’s only so much you can control. BlazBlue Continuum Shift is a good example of where the console version became obsolete after the arcade version received updates. But instead of releasing another full retail game, they allowed their fans to download the update (and subsequent updates) for free! There were new characters that didn’t exist in the game upon release but they were later available as DLC for anyone wishing to play as them. Marvel vs Capcom 3(s) took a different approach. They released a new version soon after as a new disc. It could be because the game mechanics were completely changed, but to release a new retail version after a few months of release is just insane. This upset quite a few fans.
Remember the days when characters were unlocked by playing the game? Well, Dead or Alive 4 had many, many unlockable characters and even in the new Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, Dural the boss character can be unlocked by playing the game! Great to see the old model is still here. VF5 FS had an interesting take on their DLC model. They sold the game for a bargain price which gave you everything – including all the characters. But being an Xbox Live Arcade release, they had a limited file size so they decided to not to include all the extra costumes and offer it as DLC. This is perfectly acceptable as nothing which really affects the gameplay has been removed, only aesthetic touches. Street Fighter X Tekken on the other hand, did something quite the opposite. They created characters which had to be bought on console versions but not on PS Vita version. So the introduction of DLC has also allowed game developers to deliver as minimal as possible and charge you full price, then to charge you even more for additional characters. There was no reason other than wanting to make more money off the public for with holding these characters.
Luckily Dead Or Alive 5 agrees with VF in that characters should be readily available as each character in a fighting game is key in a fighting game – without the fighters you can’t really do anything.
There are positives and negatives to DLC, if done right consumers can really get the most out of a game (VF5 FS). When done badly, it could hinder a game’s experience however slight it may be (FFXIII-2). Not only that, DLC is affecting the amount of content that players can access. Playing a game to unlock content is becoming a thing in the past. Some games do it out of necessity (BlazBlue) as the content didn’t exist at the time of release but others just blatantly do it so they can charge you more for the product (Marvel vs Capcom 3, SFxT). If these kind of DLCs sell well, then the future we may end up with is buying an absolute bare-bones game and any sort of feature or extra will need to be paid for. This is not ideal at all. It means we’re going to be getting less for our money! Think before buying DLC people, as you’re shaping what gets spewed out directly by where you put your money!
– Supply and demand.