The announcement of the Retro Video Game System, a cartridge-based console, is the latest case study in the debate of whether gaming should continue evolving beyond its roots.
Petition For DLC To Be Free Starts: Are They Correct Or Misguided?
Today, an online petition on change.org was started. In the description, the petition calls for developers to stop “jumping on the bandwagon” in regards to charging for downloadable content. At the time of publishing, the petition had 8 signatures, not a great amount, but keep in mind that it has only been live for mere hours. It does, however, raise an interesting debate. Does DLC need to be free? Not totally; In fact I would embrace the concept of DLC… If it was done right.
The topic of downloadable content itself is something that splits gamers. Many people that I know would rather not have extra content at all and instead wait for the game a little longer so that the extra content is included from the off, while others are happy to pay for added longevity to their favorite games. Some want all of it to be free. In this article, Travis talks about how he feels DLC should be free as the customer has bought the game already and is entitled to free updates, but I must disagree. DLC can be a positive reflection of effort and dedication by the developer.
Games such as Skyrim, Battlefield and many others have chosen to do DLC right. They release vast expansions to already vast games. Skyrim added in whole new areas to the map that could add real longevity to the game if you explored and were interested in Skyrim lore. New abilities and weapons were also included in some of these which added to your purchase even further. The argument that the game could have been released with the downloadable content already included for free is, in some cases such as this, invalid. For example, I spent 140+ hours exploring and fighting WITHOUT the extra content. That is an unbelievable value for a $60 dollar game in an industry where the same amount buys you a 7-hour campaign plus repetitive multiplayer. The subsequent releases of 2 separate pieces of content for $20 each and 1 small addition at $5 only add to the game’s length. Dragonborn, the most recent DLC release for Skyrim, is 24 hours in length (according to howlongtobeat.com) which is lengthier than many full priced games on the market today. This kind of effort from the developer to offer something new is admirable, and it shows that DLC can be worth the price, as long as developers create something interesting and engaging. But there are some games who do not give the same attention to their content.
Probably the most notable example of poor DLC is Call of Duty. Using the same website as before to measure the length of the most recent entry, Black Ops 2, the game clocks in at just under 8 hours for the main story mode. The multiplayer however, from personal experience, is short and attempts are made to lengthen it through “Prestige Mode”, which basically restarts the player’s rank with a prettier symbol next to the player’s name. Not exactly worth the same price as Skyrim, is it? But to rub salt in the wound, the DLC, which adds no story components, costs $14.99 for 5 maps (normally one of the maps rehashes a map from previous games… Just to be original and all). Almost all of them tiny maps. Only with Black Ops 2 has an extra weapon been included with the extra content and even then that is only one extra per package. Going by previous installments in the franchise, the game will have 4 map packs which will total just under $60. This is something that could have quickly been integrated into the original game with ease, not deserving of a full release. Compare this game with Skyrim above and you will see why DLC has become such a difficult subject.
Not enough developers are trying and SOME are purely trying to line their pockets with the most minimal amount of effort possible (I won’t even rant about those who put the DLC ON DISK and charge you for unlocking it). Calls for all DLC to be free is ridiculous, as effort on the developer’s part must be rewarded. Lazy additions to popular games deserve to be free to anyone who purchased the game as it proves that the developer wants “to see how much money they make” as the petition suggests.
What is your stance on DLC? Should all DLC be free? Let me know in the comments.