Almost every developer is looking to get that bit extra of your hard earned cash. We take a look at the value for money the customer is getting and whether companies are exploiting the current market trend towards downloadable extras.
There can be no denying that in the right hands DLC can be a great way of adding value to a game. But it can also used for companies to get you to pour out even more on a title to get the most of it.
Burnout Paradise has been a joy from the word go, not only did the game move the franchise in a new and exciting direction but it has got DLC spot on. Free game altering updates that are coming thick and fast and helping the title to enjoy a much longer popularity window than it may otherwise have done. Unfortunately this is not the norm and is only possible because of the huge financial backing of EA. It's DLC at it's best. Other notable examples are Epic getting the Discovery Channel to sponsor Gears of War DLC meaning they could recoup the lost revenue. Bungie also have nailed it with Halo 3 offering the maps at a price for those hardcore players who must have them, whilst giving them away to the gamers who hang on and wait.
At it's worst DLC consists of features that simply put should be on the disc. Sonic the Hedgehog on Xbox 360 and PS3 aside from being a terrible game also has surely the most criminal example of DLC. Being offered the chance to pay to download additional difficultly settings is not on, when these options are included on almost every game under the sun. Square Enix are a company very guilty of overcharging for DLC. Space Invaders Get Even is a prime example with the game costing just 500 Wii Points for is essentially a glorified demo, it isn't until that part of the title is completed that you find the true points cost to gain the full experience. Also another gripe is games that offer the chance to purchase DLC only for the download files to be tiny and the downloaded file nothing more than an unlock key for content already on the disc.
Whilst there are success stories as far as DLC is concerned it is still a worry that companies seem to take for granted that gamers will cough up for content which could well have fitted on the disc. Companies bring out DLC the day or just a week after some releases, this means the extra content was developed as part of the regular games production cycle so why should gamers be forced to pay up for this? A trend also seems to becoming the norm for developers to announce DLC before a game has even been released. How about you wait and see if the game is a success and whether the market is there for expanding the remit of the title? No instead they would assume that they have enough power to make us need the DLC.
Unfortunately there is no real answer to these problems as there is no way to govern this. Neither is there really any justification to tightly control what publishers can offer as extra content and indeed what they charge. Microsoft are perhaps the company most at work with regards to this as they attempt to say what content can and can't go up on XBL and also to some degree dictate the price. This has of course caused runctions, most famously with Epic over Gears of War DLC. Sony seem to favour free downloads (Warhawk being a prime example, features adding patches are free whilst resources adding updates are charged for) and Microsoft seems to favour charging for everything, although both forms of DLC exist on both stores. This perhaps helps to demonstrate the best status quo as the two exist in harmony with players simple deciding whether they want to be taken for ride, snap up the value for money DLC or stick to the freebie add ons that publishers offer.
Labels: Fanning The Flames