In the modern age of online gaming, the convenience of downloadable games is as quintessential as the gaming system itself. Steam sales seem to always be available and gaming has never been so affordable if you can stomach the upfront investment for a gaming PC. Years ago, if a game was released with bugs, then the game was broken and there was no remedy for us. Luckily today, updates can be released to patch over any bug, so long as you are willing to stomach going a few hours (or days depending on your internet speed) without your shiny new game. Unfortunately, this ease has often led to lazy game development. If a company can release a game while the Hype-Train is still going, then they will see a huge up-swing in their sales, and any issues with the game can be fixed over the course of a few months through updates. A prime example here would be No Man’s Sky, a game whose hype was so large that the developers released a game with less than half of the features promised, leading to mass backlash and various refunds being given. Hello Games have since released updates containing these features, but the game has become somewhat of a cautionary tale.
In the modern day, this is far from uncommon. In 2015, EA released the bones of Star Wars Battlefront for €60, giving us a bland single player with 3 maps and a boring lifeless online multiplayer. “Don’t worry”, we were told as EA revealed that meat would be added to these bones slowly over time, and for the small price of €25. Imagine going into the cinema and watching the latest marvel movie, and just as the film reaches its climax, you’re asked for an extra payment? In any other industry this would be unacceptable. You buy an album, but as it reaches the 3rd last track, you have to run and grab your debit card, so you can pay to hear it. The most cynical of any DLC offence has to be in Capcom’s ‘Aura’s Wrath’, where you actually do have to pay an extra €7 to get the ‘Final Chapter’ so you can see the true ending to the game. It’s a clear design choice, for you to have come so close to finishing the game, clearly you are invested and right when you want to reach the conclusion, they demand more money from you.
Some more ridiculous examples of DLC can be seen in the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, where you were asked to pay an extra €2 to put some armour on your horse, a feature that came for free as part of every previous and subsequent Elder Scrolls game. While this is one of the most cited examples of ridiculous DLC, clearly the most comical came as an add-on to ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ where the developers charged you €2 to buy games on your phone in-game.
Possibly the most egregious example of DLC is the fact that when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare received a HD remaster, the developers decided to also remaster the DLC, but rather than include in the game, they asked for another €15 again. Someone who had bought the original game, its DLC, plus the HD remaster and DLC would then have forked out over €150 to buy the same game twice… Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the best-selling game series of all time. This attitude of partitioning the true spirit of a game behind a pay wall is truly not within the spirit of the games industry as a whole and is beyond ludicrous. Examples of astronomical prices are endless, but the most bizarre is the fact that, were you to own all the DLC for the game ‘Train Simulator’, you would have had to spend over €2,500.
Despite how I sound, I am actually far from opposed to DLC. In many examples, such as Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, DLC can add an extra limb to a game that might seem unnecessary, but in fact changes the tone of the game as a whole and gives the entire game a ‘second wind’, that only adds to its success. Perhaps one of the best examples of DLC can be seen in the aforementioned Elder Scrolls series, where in Skyrim, the Dragonborn DLC allows players to return to an area from a previous game, for some nostalgia and extra in-game quests. In a similar vein, when it was announced that Skyrim would receive an HD remaster, Bethesda, the developer, allowed anyone who already owned a copy of the PC version a free upgrade. There was no need in this instance to force people to pay for the same game twice just to play it in HD. *Call of Duty see here*
Overall, DLC can add meat to a game, but a game in of itself should not be a skeleton or a shell of what it will be with DLC. DLC add-ons should be just that, additions to the game that allow expansion and further play-time, we as consumers should not be charged twice to play what we paid for in the first instance.