The boom in video games being purchased online has consequently seen an increase in downloadable content (DLC) being created by developers. But what does this mean for your average Joe gamer? We are a fickle bunch who like to get as much bang for our buck as possible.
Purchasing DLC can involve prolonging a cherished game’s experience by purchasing extra levels or maps. And even extends to the dubious cosmetic extras such as skins or weapons. Initially the idea sounds cool.
Who doesn’t like added bonuses to a game we have fallen in love with? But the downside is that this usually comes at a cost. More often than not only a few dollars, but these things add up and can haunt us, like when we were young and collected the Spice Girl sticker collection. It only started off with a few and the next thing you know you’re in debt to the school yard black market syndicate.
From a game creation point of view, I find it a little strange that producers would purposefully exclude content that really should have come with the game. All the added civilizations and scenarios there seems to be for Civilization V looks as though they were excluded just so it could be sold separately.
Especially as some were released only one week after launch. The game itself was expensive, I want my money’s worth dammit and I don’t want to fork out more to get additional content that could have been included at launch.
Speaking of expensive, the sheer cost of some DLC bewilders me. When Portal 2 was first released players could buy different skins for their robots. These were as pricey as $5 a skin! Another one that has been brought to my attention is Lonpos, a Wii ware game where there are over 5000 Wii points worth of DLC, which sadly meant for this crappy game that the DLC was in fact not only better but more expensive than the game itself.
Am I overreacting? Or are companies exploiting the DLC market and turning us into their personalised cash cows? Take Blizzard’s fairly recent Celestial Steed in World of Warcraft. $25 for a mount. Okay so it’s sparkly and pretty and goes fast. But it’s a mount, people! This bears no impact on gameplay whatsoever!
And with this comes my prediction that it is in fact the end of the intelligent human race. It will only be a matter of time before the Apes take over.
Okay end rant, it is time for the Republic to look at it from an Empire point of view. There is a certain amount of pressure for companies to keep players engaged in any online multiplayer game. This results in them continually pumping out content for their games.
It certainly increases its duration and time people will be playing it. Team Fortress 2 has been around for years, the number of added items that can be purchased or unlocked is fairly incredible. Not only purchasable items should be looked at but downloadable patches and expansions that support the game too.
New maps in any online game is always welcomed and a good way to entice any wayward gamer to stay and keep playing.
There is definitely one method that turns off gamers in a heart-beat. DLC that changes the peace, harmony and most importantly, balance, of a game. EA are notorious for this and did so in their massive Battlefield 3 release.
Only those who pre-ordered the game were entitled to a light machine gun and two weapon attachments (flash suppressor and flechette ammo). These items are considered essential and EA’s actions caused quite the stir among the Battlefield community, some encouraging a boycott.
EA have since claimed that “Owning these items will give you a more varied arsenal, but it will not give you a significant advantage on the battlefield.”
Looks like the jury is out on this one.
The overall idea of this article came from my conundrum regarding purchasing the DLC for Magicka. I absolutely loved this game! But considering Magicka: Vietnam is half the price of what I paid for the original I’m not sure if I can justify spending the cash. Game mechanics are the same and it’s just another mission in a different landscape. There are now others such as Marshlands, Frozen Lake, The Final Frontier…..and it goes on and on.
I know choices are good but there are way too many now in my opinion, especially for someone that takes half an hour just to decide whether to wear the black or slightly darker black cardigan. On the flip slide I sometimes feel as if I’m missing out if I don’t make all these purchases.
It would seem that with the online gaming community growing exponentially and the quality of technology increasing throughout the average household, the rate in which DLC is being pushed out isn’t likely to stop any time soon.
I don’t mind the choice of buying useless junk for a game because I don’t have to partake. What I do mind is being jibbed of content because the fat aristocrats want to take my money. Is there anything that can be done? Probably not. If there are people out there willing to throw their money at it, we’ll be bound to the DLC shackles for eternity.
Emma’s claim to fame is NOT buying a celestial steed as that would cut into her Spice Girl sticker allowance. Follow her on Twitter here. For more on the subject of free(ish) to play, check out Emma’s review of Age of Empires online.