Down on Downloadable Content
I originally wrote a long post about this a few days ago that cited examples of downloadable content (DLC) for video games that I loathed and why I think it is a practice that hurts consumers of video games. I stated that the “Epilogue” DLC that provides actual closure to the game Prince of Persia allowed them to either a.) fix a mistake they made in their published ending for the game, or b.) spend more time to actually finish the game while simultaneously living up to their projected release date. Either way, it’s sloppy. I don’t even know if that DLC cost additional money – but either way the PC version of the game is somehow denied.
I stated all this, but the main fact that needs to be emphasized is this: I just don’t like downloadable content.
Very obvious, considering the above, but I can’t make a reasonable argument for how it’s a plague to the industry or unfair to gamers. If it were unfair, gamers wouldn’t be so into it and the practice would be abandoned. Gamers voice their complaints only for specific instances of poor DLC. For example, the $10 Capcom expects people to spend for Resident Evil 5’s multiplayer death match has caused quite a stir. After spending $60 on the game, $10 for an additional mode feels like a rip-off. I can understand that. Capcom argues, meanwhile, that the game is well worth the $60 price tag, and paying extra for something that is extra shouldn’t be a problem. The fans seem to think that $60 should pay for the full package – which means everything.
Which is the issue I have, when you get down to it. Game prices are already pretty high, especially for the high end systems. Back in the day, the full package was included on your $40+ cartridge. GoldenEye was very much a complete game by itself, but it also included a very lauded multiplayer mode. Metroid was the first game to have such an expansive world, and the “Justin Bailey” code was a very nice easter egg. Extra characters in fighting games were released by completing some challenge, finding a code, or even time released on later consoles. Gamers didn’t have to pay for these things. They were there as a reward for the players. In a way, the games kept opening themselves up as if to say, “There’s more and more for you to find!”
Now there’s more and more for you to buy. Because the consoles contain some sort of onboard memory now, there’s an excuse to add onto games rather than have the games automatically include things. And for an old school gamer like myself, the idea of paying for things that used to be included is ludicrous. It also takes away from the overall experience of a game when I know that there’s more out there that the company would prefer I buy when I’m ready.
It gets more difficult to make the argument for games as art when it’s obvious that it’s the business side that’s running things.