As gaming trends into the digital era, more and more developers are starting to increase the longevity of their games not by the tried-and-true method of regular releases of expansion packs (Here’s looking at you, The Sims) but rather through DLC, or Downloadable Content. As a frontier previously for only die-hards and completionists, Downloadable content is now part of a gamers everyday life. The paradigm has shifted from “Well, that extra content looks cool, maybe I’ll pick it up later” to “Well, I’m boned if I don’t get that DLC” like it or not, DLC is here to stay, and it doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.
The DLC movement covers all ends of the spectrum, even more radically with some games REQUIRING you to purchase DLC to even access some parts of the original game. Most famously noted is the publishing giant, EA games that actually disallows players from playing used copies of their sports games (Madden, FIFA, NHL) and some of their FPS titles (Medal of Honor, Battlefield) online without purchasing a ten dollar authentication code, and registering on EA’s website, showing to them that you a new user to a used game. This has a lot of gamers up in arms, however Electronic Arts argues that it’s protecting the developers who receive no credit from used video game sales, a statistic that seems to get worse and worse every year, as more and more budget-conscious gamers look to alternative ways of getting what they want without paying the full price tag.
Alternatively there are games that limit you severely if you are without some sort of DLC, such as Call of Duty. If you know anything of this milked cow called Map packs, you’d see that if gamers bought all 4 of the available maps at SRP of 15 bucks a pop (First Strike, Escalation, Annihilation, Rezurrection), they would actually spend an extra sixty dollars on top of the original sixty they paid for the game. However, if you don’t get the maps, you’re the odd one out while all your friends get to blast zombies on the moon. However such absurdities are becoming the norm as other AAA titles are following suit (Assassin’s Creed, Left for Dead, Team[Hat] Fortress 2, Fallout) by stuffing their games with DLC right after their release or even before the game itself has launched, while gamers are more than happy to shell out the extra change for such goodies.
A report released today by Gamespot.com stated that on average, 51 percent of gamers, casual and hardcore have purchased some form of DLC with their games in the last year, making the DLC industry top 1 billion in 2010 alone. While the other 49 percent of dissenters choose not to buy DLC for any number of reasons, ranging from cost, lack of refunds, privacy, titles offered, content offered etc. It’s a growing trend that is causing some divide in the gaming community, purists who play the game at face value, without and extra frills. While there are completionists, who simply nab the DLC at the prospect of extra achievement points, which have starting popping up in new DLC being offered. Making DLC more and more of a necessity than a luxury.
With the popularity of DLC on the rise, gamers will have to regularly open their wallets to play (or keep playing) content that will tide them over until the future installment comes out. However, how long can the industry milk dollars out of gamers before dissent begins to ferment?