Downloadable Content: Good, Bad or Both?

RYAN GAPP | THE SPECTRUM
RYAN GAPP | THE SPECTRUM

In the days of the PlayStation 2, the Xbox and the Nintendo GameCube, you purchased a game and received the entire game.

Over the course of the last few years, game developers have looked to increase their margins on an already existing, multibillion-dollar industry.

This has come in the form of downloadable content, better known as DLC. DLC is additional content that developers put out after their particular game has been released. Initially, DLC seemed to be intended as a way for developers to keep players interested in their game.

Offering add-ons kept the players excited while simultaneously making a little extra profit for game companies. The additional content started out as purely optional and looked to add further to either the completed storyline or the multiplayer experience.

The Call of Duty franchise has become infamous for DLC. Call of Duty was among the first to excessively push DLC onto its audience and create a pseudo feeling of necessity.

DLC has begun to evolve into a money grab where it seems as though developers leave elements out of the game to get their audience to feel the need to cough up more money than the already high standard price of $59.99.

Video games already have the tendency to lighten the wallet of any gamer. The push to make DLC more essential to the complete experience is a dishonest practice. Games should not be sold seemingly incomplete for the sole purpose of trying to extract more money from players.

As previously mentioned, Call of Duty is notorious for this practice. Famous for its multiplayer, Call of Duty’s DLC adds extra levels and weapons to the game. Doing so gives players who purchase the DLC an advantage over players who don’t. I find this to be the root problem with DLC as a whole, which encourages the idea of paying more to be better.

DLC, however, is not inherently evil. Today’s world is money-centered. Greed will be prevalent anywhere you go. DLC doesn’t have to be a money-swiping scheme – I actually support the idea of creating add-ons to further enhance the experience of a game, so long as it essential to the plot of the game. If you enjoy playing a particular game it is nice to have some extras to indulge in.

The Mass Effect and Elder Scrolls franchises did an exceptional job with DLC. It was not pushed onto the players; instead, it was simply an option available for those who were interested. Mass Effect’s DLC added character backstory and depth for those players who were truly interested. It was not essential but added to the overall experience.

DLC can be a great addition to games and provide hours of extra play. It’s important that DLC stays true to itself as an “add-on.” Developers should never use it as a needed piece to create a fulfilling experience within their game.

If developers remember players don’t have unlimited funds to spend on their products and produce appropriate optional content, then the paradox of DLC will be solved.

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