Downloadable Content (DLC) has been an industry norm for years now. And it sucks! Even if I didn’t mind paying for more of the same, DLC in most cases comes out months after release and by then, I’m already done with the game. The lure of a few new costumes or a new game mode is hardly an incentive to return. It also doesn’t help when DLC comes out immediately after release because then, it becomes fairly obvious that the developer cut out stuff from the disc to sell it on a later date. It's a classic case of damned if you do and damned if you don't.
There are however a few companies like DICE (Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam), Gearbox Software (Borderlands), Rockstar etc. that do it right. Everything Rockstar has put out in recent times for Red Dead Redemption to Grand Theft Auto IV has been on par with full-fledge retail games in size, scope and production values. In such instances, revisiting a game is not only a pleasant experience but may even encourage a second play through. And with Undead Nightmare, Rockstar actually changed certain key gameplay elements that made it seem like a brand new game.
But for every Undead Nightmare and Episodes for Liberty City there are publishers who will shamelessly charge players an obscene amount of money for pittance. It all started sometime in 2006 when Bethesda tried peddling off Horse Armor to Oblivion players for around $2.50. It caused a major uproar throughout the community and Bethesda definitely felt the backlash, but it also planted the seeds for years to come. From that day onwards we’ve seen some mediocre, bad and truly horrendous stuff being pushed by distributors and publishers, all in the name of downloadable content. Capcom lowered the bar even further by charging players for a Versus mode, something that all games include from the get go.
But things weren’t always like this. Back in the day when PC gaming reigned supreme, mods were better than any DLC put out by companies. And best of all, they were completely FREE, conjured up the community, for other members of the community. Sites like MODDB till date offer players an innumerable amount of mods in the form of skins, visuals tweaks, weapons and entire conversions. Take The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for example once again. The game looked gorgeous when it came out and offered players up to hundreds of hours of gameplay but as time passed by, its graphical prowess diminished greatly and people started noticing how retarded some of the game’s facial animations truly were. If someone were to start the game today, they probably would hurl at the visuals but thanks to fan sites like TESNexus, there are countless mods out there that not only tweak the game’s visuals, but improve on many aspects Bethesda failed to address. Another ambitious RPG, Vampires: The Masquerade Bloodlines is currently being supported by patches and tweaks developed by its community after the game’s developers, Troika Games shut down in 2005.
PC gamers are self sustainable in that respect as they have the modding community to fall back on so crappy DLC is not really a deal breaker for them. Console gamers on the other hand aren’t as lucky since the modding scene for consoles has yet to pick up steam. But this doesn’t mean publishers should take advantage of them. Charge them for stuff, sure, but see to it that it offers bang for their buck. Only then would people truly appreciate the concept of DLC.
Ballad of Gay Tony, Capcom, DLC, Downloadable Content, Episodes from Liberty City, Grand Theft Auto IV, GTA, Lost and Damned, Red Dead Redemption, Resident Evil 5, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Undead Nightmare