I took a break from playing video games as the SNES reached obsolescence. It just didn’t make much sense to me to spend what little cash I could cobble together on the newest game system, only to build a collection of titles and restart the process every few years. After college, my roommate (and co-writer of this article) showed me just how far technology had come in the form of the Xbox 360. We spent days playing Rock Band, Guitar Hero, and every entry in the Call of Duty franchise. The graphics were insane, the game play was intense, and there were soooo many buttons.
Eventually we got bored of the titles we had and I witnessed something that would change game play forever: DLC. It only cost a few bucks – substantially less than buying another title, and it was a breathtaking way to expand upon the Call of Duty universe that we had come to love, while introducing a concurrent title that was rife with villains that we loved to shoot: Nazi Zombies.
Though none of the DLC offered in any game that I have seen since have lived up to entertainment that I got from the zombie DLC packs in COD: World at War, many of them offer something in common: the ability to flesh out existing popular titles. Suddenly, the unlimited world of the arcade came crashing through the doorway of our little apartment. Friday nights spent playing the same stale songs on Guitar Hero II were suddenly made better by the addition of songs by Motorhead, Atreyu and My Chemical Romance… all for a fraction of the cost of buying a new sequel to the game itself.
All nostalgia aside, I feel like DLC offers an amazing way for the manufacturers to cut the bullshit and deliver the content directly to the consumer. Plus, it has revolutionized the way that we play mobile games by allowing the player to taste the content with the option to build upon each title by buying extra lives and additional levels.
Downloadable content is just another cash grab by the studios. Like the Force, DLC can be used for good or evil and the majority of the time it is used for evil. And we are talking about Comcast levels of evil here. Oblivion’s Horse Armor DLC is the easiest content to pick on because it was one of the first DLC commercially available and added no actual content, sending the internet into an uproar. Sure it covered your horse in armor but the armor was cosmetic only, providing no actual change to the horse’s stats.
This was gamer’s first glimpse at the future of DLC. For example, look at the content list for Call of Duty Advanced Warfare. Advanced Warfare was a nice addition to the series, but it was wrong, borderline unethical, releasing dozens of weapons skins, exoskeleton themes, and extra create a class slots. Extra create a class slots. Let that sink in for a moment. In previous COD games, spending hours in the game and ranking up allowed you to buy more custom slots. In Advanced Warfare, you will be prompted to buy more slots once you reach the maximum you can earn in game. There are direct links in the customization menu to buy these options, the same as a game on your phone or tablet. The only difference is that those mobile games are normally free with in app purchases…not 60 dollars with in app purchases.
DLC also gives an incentive to the studio to hold out portions of the game. Assassin’s Creed seems to be pushing out sequels like a stray pumps out kittens that no one wants. In one of them there were entire levels that were “held” as DLC, despite taking place in the middle of the story line. We’ve all been burnt on similiar DLC promising more content and delivering the just more of the same that could easily been put into the full release. Other than notable exceptions (Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, GTA IV:The Ballad of Gay Tony) I suggest you do as I do and avoid the temptation of DLC altogether. See more of despicable uses for DLC by checking out Listification: Top 5 Worst DLC.