This post has not been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.
I am Will Harrison, your liaison into the world of what irritates this week as we delve into the top 10 things that I despise or dislike about downloadable content (DLC) and digitally distributed games. I would like to make a note ahead of time that — much in the style of my literary and comedic hero George Carlin — I must ask that you not take everything I say here as my full beliefs and the truth. After all, nobody can be this sour as to have something to complain about every week. Truth be told, I am a happy individual with a wonderful life; however, I have no qualms about playing devil’s advocate and pointing out what needs to be said.
10) Nickel-and-diming people? God, no. It’s more like five-and-10-dollaring people. Microtransactions have proven to be a distribution method that the large companies absolutely love: You charge a slightly lower entry-level fee and dole out content piece by piece, which gives consumers a sense that they are saving money. But, seeing as I live in this little thing called “reality,” I am here to tell you that this is simply a grand and glorious illusion created by these companies to make you, the consumer, feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
9) But, wait! Buy our “Super Ultimate Game Edition!” So, how do companies avoid the consumer seeing through this microtransation ruse? Simple, really. Months down the road, all of the content that publishers like Electronic Arts and Activision have been pumping out to make their games look more finished will be combined into a "Game of the Year" edition for the price of a full release.
Most view these ultimate editions as a great deal, but truth be told, that “Game of the Year” edition is merely what should have been the finalized product instead of the half-hearted efforts that are initially shoved out.
8) Fan service…of a sort. Sometimes, I think DLC is fitting. After all, who doesn’t want a continuation of their favorite characters and places? It is the whole reason I even bought Final Fantasy 10-2, after all. Although, I feel that sometimes this is nothing more than a hollow effort to keep interest in a title until a “Game of the Year” edition can be thrown together. Most recent examples would be a few of the Fallout 3 DLC offerings, including one that was literally a simulation of a historical event in the game’s canon.
Cool idea? Yes. But it added nothing essential and felt more like Bethesda saying, “we promise better DLC is coming soon, ‘kay?” And it did, in Broken Steel, a DLC chapter that not only added an entirely new end-game storyline but also increased the level cap.
7) Function over flavor. This is a bit of a continuation of point eight, but I feel it needs to be stated separately. Is it too much to ask for DLC to have an overarching function? If I am going to be shelling out eight to 10 dollars on new content, I want more than a fluff storyline and a new weapon or two. As mentioned with Fallout 3, DLC that does something like increasing a level cap or adding new abilities is content that I can get behind as a consumer.
On the flip side, DLC like Bonfire of the Antiquities for Assassin’s Creed 2 brought nothing new to the table and was sold in separate parts. Is this not a bit much for content that was supposed to be on the retail disc? More on this later (see point one).
6) Exclusivity? My ass! Minor gripe here, but I despise it when DLC is console-exclusive or time-sensitive. Don’t get me wrong, this is not me hating on Microsoft solely…I am equally mad when Sony has the exclusivity ball in their court. When Scott Pilgrim: The Game was released for the PlayStation 3 first, I felt bad for my friend, Jeremy, who had to wait for a release that he was more excited about than any disc-based retail title.
5) Preorder? That term makes no sense. Is that like pre-death? A trend as of late has begun where companies will offer store specific preorder bonuses in the form of a rebate code. Often, these bonuses are a wash because a month down the road, they will be available to everyone one way or another (Infamous’ Giga Blades and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance’s preorder characters being the most prominent examples).
I miss the days when I salivated over preorder bonuses. I guess that other consumers have the same mindset I do, as Gamestop has reported that reservations are down across the board over the last three years. Maybe…just maybe…it is because there is no good reason to preorder anymore? I think so.
4) Cosmetic content a la carte. Time to turn the flamethrower towards the PC sect! Due to the fact that Blizzard has the massively multiplayer-online market by the testicles, other developers in the genre have begun creating their games with a “freemium” focus in which the consumer pays nothing to get into the game but is charged a certain amount of microtransactions for content and features that are standard with pay-titles, like extra character slots.
What bothers me about this method is the exuberant cost of cosmetic items that have no actual gameplay effect. For example, Champions Online is currently charging eight dollars for a “lightspeed travel” ability that is nothing more than a reskin of the standard super-speed ability. Some will file this under “rich stupid people will buy it, so what is the big deal?” I see this not only as a slippery slope but also as a precedent for developers to level future outrageous charges.
Check out my horse, indeed.
3) Release-day DLC? Yeah, about that…. Nothing infuriates me more than seeing day one DLC for a new title. Why? It means that I am being charged money for content that the developer knew they could finish toward the end of the prep cycle for release and squeeze some extra money out. There is no call for day-one DLC whatsoever. I would prefer if developers would delay a game a month or two than try to market content that should be on the disc.
2) Blah, blah, blah…. Don’t you just hate it when some smug, quasi-hipster, know-it-all writer complains about such trivial fare like how much DLC costs or if content isn’t useful? After all, what qualified these guys to talk about video games like they are discussing the NFL on ESPN News? I hate these jerks and clearly they should all be thrown into the Ohio River.
1) You think you own that content? Ha-ha! By far, my biggest issue with DLC is a tactic that many companies (with EA and Capcom being the biggest perpetrators) are making standard issue now: charging you for content that you have already paid for. Confused? Before the release of Super Street Fighter 4, Capcom made a big deal about the inclusions of new costumes so much so that it was the focal point of a few of the trailers. Well, guess what? Said costumes were not available from the get go. Instead, Capcom charged eight dollars a pack. Turns out that when one went to download the costume pack, the download was 100 kilobytes or so. Why? Because the content was already on the sodding disc!
A more recent example (and an even more infuriating one) is with Capcom’s recent release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and the inclusion of DLC characters with the special edition (each of which can also now be purchased for five dollars individually). Capcom stammered and stuttered in interviews about how these characters were coming later as DLC because the content was not ready and had to be tuned and tweaked and blah blah blah. However, and as expected, release day rolled around and of course the download was 1000 kB. Really, Capcom? The content wasn’t finished?
The fact of the matter is that I am tired of being charged at a later point for content that I technically have already purchased. This move is nothing more than developers trying as hard as possible (and succeeding) at getting more money from their consumers. Don’t let the charitable facade of extra content for your favorite games blind you, dear readers. They don’t care if you like the content or not, they simply just want you to keep buying it.
Originally posted on Digital Hippos.