This is the first entry in a new feature here on Living With a Nerd:  The Wednesday Rant.  Each week, we will present a rant on a different topic (and, if things go as planned, sometimes from different authors!)  This week’s entry is a rant by myself about DLC practices.

Why didn’t you include it in the first place?

Game X gets previewed, and generates a ton of buzz…gamers are going nuts over it, and non-gamers are wanting to get into the hobby just so they can play it.  Time goes by, public visibility is increased, until the big day when we can finally buy the game arrives.  We plunk our money down, rush home, rip open the package, put the game in…only to be welcomed by a screen asking us if we want to download addons for $5.  What the hell?    We literally just bought the game (for 60 freakin’ dollars, might I add)…and you’re trying to get us to pay money for an extra dungeon or some new armor? 

I’m all for DLC, don’t get me wrong; I love the fact that new areas and items can be implemented after a game is released.  I understand that releasing new content after a game’s initial release isn’t free; it costs developers and publishers money, but people really need to look at how much some DLC packs cost.  That being said, sometimes publishers and/or developers do some really cool things.  DLC that is available for free on launch day?  Totally awesome…there was stuff that they really wanted to get into the game, and obviously ran out of time before the discs had to be pressed; I really appreciate it on the rare occasion when it occurs. 

But what’s with DLC you have to pay for being released not even a week or two after a game is released?  Couldn’t you have just delayed the freakin’ game for two weeks if it was that awesome?!?  Seriously, publishers…if there is an amazing dungeon or a few great items that just absolutely HAVE to be in a game, give the developers the extra couple of weeks to implement them into the release version.  Don’t make us pay extra money because the game had to be released NOW NOW NOW, and there isn’t time to include things that you should.  Can you imagine if you had to pay for DLC to get the Spear in Secret of Mana, or if you had to pay for DLC to unlock secret ingridients in Secret of Evermore?

The do’s and dont’s of DLC

  • DON’T release pay-for DLC the same day (or shortly after) a game is released at retail.  That pisses people off.
  • DO try to offer free DLC at launch if it covers content you didn’t have time to properly polish prior to the game going gold.
  • DON’T offer pay-for DLC that includes content or options that should have been included when the game was released (I’m looking at you, Dead Space Weapon/Skins/Costume packs and having to buy DLC stages to get certain achievements for Beautiful Katamri.)
  • DO make DLC actually worth buying.  Most of the packs released for Fallout 3 are an excellent example of how DLC should be utilized to increase income for publishers/developers while simultaneously increasing enjoyment and game length for players.  Borderlands is another example of (mostly) well-done DLC.
  • DON’T charge exhorbitant amounts of money for your DLC.  Horse Armor shouldn’t cost 200 MS points while The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned costs 800 MS points (in Bethesda’s defense, Oblivion came out fairly early in the mainstream DLC game.)

Final Thoughts

DLC is a tricky thing to utilize properly…the line between “good value” and “why am I paying extra for this” is quite blurry.  Even though publishers seem to use DLC as a way to make up for losses due to piracy/used game sales, I think DLC pricing needs to be more consistent.  Prices seem to be set by the will of a publisher, not by a measurement of the quality or amount of content.  Of course, the publishers aren’t solely at fault here; gamers need to recognize when they’re getting ripped off, and need to not give away their hard earned money. 

So long as gamers continue to pay for overpriced, unecessary DLC, publishers will continue insisting that it be developed and sold.