With the seventh generation of video game consoles, came one of the most controversial business practices within the video games industry to date: downloadable content. What was (debatably) intended to enhance the experience for certain titles by offering newly developed content months after the base game’s release, has far too often fallen victim to abuse by video game publishers, as gamers, press and critics are often presented with less than satisfactory excuses for quality content.
Content already included on the game’s retail disc…content already developed by the base title’s release date, among other things. We often find that we are being made to hand over an extra 10 dollars or so for content that we would’ve already been given access to in titles that came before the dawn of digital gaming, through the means of progressing through a game and unlocking our rewards (or using cheat codes). These rather shady and underhanded methods of releasing downloadable content have been one of the biggest sources of of frustration and discontent within the world of video games. Gamers and critics alike have every right to feel resentment towards the publishers guilty of such practices. However, there is one often overlooked cause as to why publishing companies continue to treat their consumers in such fashion…it’s because we let them.
There’s a phrase that is often repeated at great length throughout every corner of the internet: “Don’t like it? Don’t buy it”. As relevant as this phrase is considering the circumstances, it’s unfortunately much easier said than done.
Curt Hennig, AKA “Mr. Perfect” is included among other past members of the NWO faction as DLC for WWE 2K14.
Let’s detour for a minute to talk about a personal scenario. Just yesterday (at the time of which this article is being written), 2K Games announced its planned downloadable content lineup for WWE 2K14, for the months following its release on the 29th of this month. These planned DLC packs include not only additional wrestlers, but skins for existing wrestlers, moves for players to edit their created wrestlers’ move sets with, as well as additional character creation pieces. “So what’s the problem?” you might be asking. The problem I have with this particular situation is the same problem that the majority of the gaming community and press have had with certain forms of DLC for the past seven years of so that this issue has been prevalent. The content offered in these DLC packs should have already been in the base game. It did not take the developers extra time to create this content, as evidenced by the fact that this DLC is already planned with a set release date, before WWE 2K14 itself has even been released. One can only suspect these playable wrestlers, character skins, wrestling moves and character creation pieces were finished at the same rate of progress as the base game itself. Additional wrestlers would be a welcome addition and a logical choice for DLC on their own. However, character skins- simply alternate looks for existing characters, wrestling moves and character creation pieces, seem like things that could have easily been included in this title’s base game. It really does appear as though 2K Games decided to pick and choose which- already developed- content they wished to set aside for an additional price. 2K’s customers are already being made to pay a 60 dollar retail price for WWE 2K14. Those of us who want to own this additional downloadable content will be required to pay anywhere from 70 to 100 dollars in order to get the full experience…which leads us back to my original point.
Personally, aside from being a gamer, I am also a rather huge professional wrestling fan. I am excited for WWE 2K14, as I always enjoy every installment to this series, as a wrestling fan being able to live out my wrestling fantasies without having to worry about any real life constraints. As much as I — and undoubtedly other fans of the series — are irritated by 2K’s chosen methods involving the planned DLC for the game, we will most likely be found putting down our hard-earned money to purchase this DLC anyway, regardless of our own complaints. Why? Because we want it. We feel as though we need this content in order to experience the definitive version of the game (even if that isn’t necessarily true).
Back in February of 2012, Youtuber Boogie2988 expressed his feelings regarding the day-1 DLC for Mass Effect 3, and came to a similar conclusion.
Even if the gaming press and community together, expressed their discontent as loud as possible towards the various ways publishers abuse the concept of downloadable content, those very people — that being us — are the reason that this continues to happen. These businesses practice whatever methods bring them their profit. As long as we consumers are bringing them this profit to their doorstep, they will continue to do what earns them their dollar. If people were to flat-out refuse to purchase DLC of which they feel violates whatever ethics the abide by, these businesses might suffer a significant enough loss to discontinue these practices.
Admittedly, despite all of this venting about consumer rights and underhanded business tactics, I, as well as other gamers/ wrestling fans, will most likely be purchasing a fair amount of DLC for WWE 2K14, and gamers, whether the be the average consumer or a paid member of the press, will most likely continue to purchase some form of downloadable content of which they do not agree with. If at some point, I, among others, learn to put aside what they want and focus on what they really need –that being a fair and balanced environment for consumers — then maybe publishers will learn to approach things in a more acceptable manner. The gaming press and community drawing attention to it is a start. For now, we have to choose: is that DLC worth it?