The term DLC, as I am sure you all already know, stands for DownLoadable Content. How it is repeatedly sold to us by game developers and publishers, is that DLC is additional content that can be added to a video game we have already purchased to increase its viability with more levels, more characters, more skins, more vehicles, more weapons etc. Very few developers/publishers may offer this DLC for free, as with games like GTA Online or Minecraft, with most charging us a “relatively” small fee for the new content.
Minecrafts periodic updates add new features such as horses (above)!
I say “relatively” because this is where some games DLCs differ, and quite greatly at that. For example the aforementioned Minecraft charges under £1 (probably exactly $1 in the US) for a complete set of character skins for your games intrepid adventurer, but Capcom's Street Fighter IV, now in its Ultra incarnation asks for nearly £3 ($4.50) for a set of character skins that can only be applied to a small handful of characters. Another example of the difference in pricing policies could up until recently be seen with any EA published game; if purchased pre-owned players would have had to purchase an online pass for around £10 ($15) to be able to play said game online with other players, yet a pre-owned Gears of War 3 allowed online play for free, no pass required. Granted, recently publishers like EA have realized how heinous such a practice was, but that is not stopping them and other developers and publishers fleecing their customers for every possible penny in other ways.
Gears of War 3 was one of the last, recent value-for-money games developed!
Recently I purchased Bungies grandiose shared world shooter Destiny for the Xbox 360. I bought the “Vanguard” edition of the game, which allows early access to some of the uncommon vanguard weapons and armor, for the total price of £50 (approximately US $75). As is usually the case with modern console games I also purchased the Expansion Pass, which gives me access to the games two planned Expansions to the game, at a slightly reduced price of £35 (each expansion will be £20 each, separately). This brings my grand total spent on this game to £85 (lets say $130), which alone is enough reason for a rant, but unbelievably there is yet more to come...
On Tuesday the first of these two expansions, The Dark Below, was “released”. I say “released” because as some may be aware the content for the expansion is actually on the game-disc I have already bought. To put it more explicitly; On Tuesday, although my Xbox 360 told me that I was downloading the new expansion; in reality I was unlocking the content from the game disc I have already purchased (for £50, remember), and if that wasn't enough I was being charged and additional £20 ($30, prepaid in the Expansion Pass) to unlock that content. This content, being on disc, was completed before the game was released, yet was locked away to be sold to us at a later date as DLC, of which it evidently is not. Coming from a developer like Bungie known for respecting its fanbase, I am quite frankly disgusted at them for stooping so low with this practice. While it may be more likely that publisher Activision are to blame for this extortionist practice, it doesn't make it any less excusable.
Destiny has proved to be too expensive for some, especially considering it offers so little!
A similar rip off to Destiny's locked on-disc DLC, is Rocksteady Studios forthcoming finale in their Batman: Arkham series. The game, which has been delayed until next June, is already advertising launch day DLC's allowing access to Harley Quinn, Red Hood and Scarecrow with accompanying story missions. While this content is being released as a pre-order incentive, one asks why such content doesn't come as standard on disc content. This is a practice more and more being adopted by developers and publishers. It seems the cost of our games is slowly increasing from the £40 norm to a new norm of £50-60 per game, yet ironically the content of our games is dropping drastically, with more and more of our games core content requiring more money to be unlocked and/or downloaded.
Even the next generation is adding to the problem. Do you have Destiny for Xbox 360 and want to upgrade to the Xbox One, not a problem – The Expansion Pass you purchased for the Xbox 360 applies to your Xbox One too, and presumably this is the same for PS3-PS4. But if you also bought Watch Dogs and its season pass on the Xbox 360, you need to purchase a whole new season pass for the Xbox One version of the game. Why? Just because, that's why!
Watch Dogs "No-Upgrade" stance has turned off a lot of players!
Video gaming, no matter the platform, is already the most expensive entertainment medium with new, next generation consoles and up-to-standard gaming PC's costing an ever increasing amount of money, add to this the increasing price of the games, and the necessity of an already expensive fibre-optic online connection. The added cost of required DLC is quite frankly a step too far. If the price of games is to increase, so to must the content we the players have access to out-of-the-box. Any additional content with an additional charge should be exactly just that – additional, not already on the disc. It is high time that a policy be set in stone as to what can and cannot be classed as DLC, with an appropriate, relative pricing policy being enforced for said DLC. On disc unlocks, launch day DLC's and wildly differing DLC prices need to stop, period.
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