The possibilities of DLC (hopefully not)


I’m noticing this slight trend lately which is a bit… disturbing.  Granted, it’s a tiny thing but I question whether it might expand much more in the future.  This trend of course is the use of downloadable content (DLC).  Wait a second…there is nothing wrong with DLC and it can offer gamers a lot more fulfillment and variety in their favorite titles.  But what if it were used for more, shall we say, evil ways?

Now, DLC isn’t anything new.  It’s been around for quite a long time, just ask any PC gamer throughout the 90s with games and user-created mods and such.  It’s a great way to expand a universe.  With the way home consoles have changed significantly to allow access to many online features, DLC became an idea for those console games to get more fluff.  Again, there is nothing wrong with this and while there has been a lot of duds and unfulfilled promises, there has equally been a lot of great ideas that developers were able to create.  The concept is very good.

What worries me, however, is the fact that companies may get ridiculous ideas with DLC.  Such an idea as say, finishing a game?  Can you imagine games being released unfinished?  Unfinished in the sense of to fulfill the complete experience as intended by the developer (mostly story-wise), you’ll need to download episodes of sorts to conclude it.  Perhaps the game on the disc ends in a sort of cliffhanger or unfilled manner.  You are left slightly empty by the entire experience.  But Wait!  You can fill that emptiness by purchasing episodic content that will finish the developers intended complete idea of the game!  How great is that?!  Right, not very.

CEO of Codemasters Rod Cousens had something very interesting to say that follows this concept, “My answer is for us as publishers is to actually sell unfinished games – and to offer the consumer multiple micro-payments to buy elements of the full experience. That would create an offering that is affordable at retail – but over a period of time may also generate more revenue for the publishers to reinvest in our games,” he told CVG.

Sell unfinished games, he says?  How low can you go?  And to use piracy as a reason for this is just silly.  Sometimes I think piracy is the scapegoat in a ton of scenarios just to cover other facts up like making more money.  In reality you are screwing your loyal fan base to death by forcing them to buy these games that require more money to actually complete.  Get a clue, people.  Do you think these stupid ideas, including the hassling DRM are real answers?  No, they provoke piracy even more most of the time.  But let’s not get too carried away, that was just one person’s thought process. albeit very dumb.

We have seen ideas though coming to fruition that could be a peek into this concept.  Episodic content that was meant for Heavy Rain (I believe only one made it, the rest were canceled) was to give us more insight on the storyline — things that were happening with certain characters away from the main story on the disc.  This isn’t a terrible idea because it wasn’t required and allowed fans the option to fill in some gaps if they wanted to.  But the people who bought, played, and finished Heavy Rain in all of its countless endings felt fulfilled without needing it.  On the other hand, a game like Alan Wake, which I enjoyed, had that cliffhanger ending which was okay and worked in the style of the game.  However, in order to understand more and perhaps even finish the story, quite a bit of DLC  is meant to be created which will give better closure to an otherwise unsettling and even confusing ending.  While I applaud the developers for wanting us to get more out of the game, it can make one feel a bit cheated.  This is the direction that worries me.

When we purchase games we expect the full experience out of that purchase.  I don’t want to hear no bullshit about piracy or lack of developing time that causes the consumer to have to pay even more to fully enjoy the game.  It’s all about money and while I understand that the cost to create games is quite high anymore, you still don’t cheat your loyal fans just because you want to make even more money off of them.  Trust me, eventually this will turn against you.  They will buy less and look for alternative methods.  I suppose I’m ranting a bit but I feel it is a fair rant.  I am a bit worried where the idea of DLC will go and I also don’t think I’m very far off in my thoughts.  Can you seriously believe that those cats at the top aren’t drooling at the thought of this if they knew they could get away with it?  It’s like selling a new Madden or NHL game without every team or perhaps paying extra to be able to play in the Superbowl or the Stanley Cup Finals.

Could DLC lead to a new way we play games down the road?  If so, maybe the games should cost under $10 since we are only getting a bit of it.  Then again, I’m getting far ahead of myself.  There is nothing completely concrete that says this is going to happen besides a few mumblings here and there.  I would think that developers and companies are smart enough to realize that DLC is best used to add to the experience instead of finishing it.  After all, the Internet loves to argue and have discussion boards set up on every fricken subject available and it is does have quite an influence.  Yes, the idea is dumb and perhaps this rant is all for nothing.  I’m just saying that sometimes you can sense these oncoming car wrecks, let’s hope this is one that never even causes a fender bender.

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