The Role of DLC in Gaming

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DLC or Downloadable Content is often viewed as a scourge in the gaming ecosystem. In large part, this comes from the pay-to-play model of gaming that requires real-world time to attain improvements, and encourages the spending of cash to purchase in-game currency in order to shortcut the time requirements. That being said, there are many fabulous examples of DLC in contrast to these transparent cash grabs.

Freedom Cry is an excellent example of this, in addition to The Last of Us: Left Behind and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. In many ways, DLC is has a great deal more flexibility and freedom. For one, DLC add-ons do not have to adhere to a rigid release date in the way that full length games do. They can also be a great deal shorter, not requiring the creators struggle to fill dozens of hours of content to convince the consumer they’re getting a good value. Furthermore, the price is also a great deal more flexible than the set $60 bar full releases must initially adhere to.

The Last of Us: Left Behind delivered a touching and in-depth character study; one which greatly expanded on an already richly developed character. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon took a highly polished game engine and used it to deliver an homage to 80’s sci-fi, while entirely subverting the tone of the main series. On the other hand, there are numerous examples of easy money DLC: character skins in Playstation All Stars, map packs in the Call of Duty seroes (which I am guilty of purchasing every one of in the cases of Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops), and Playstation Network avatar pictures. There is certainly more trivial DLC content than quality releases, but to discredit all DLC at face value would be a foolish move.

Any pieces of DLC you especially uphold or despise? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

12 thoughts on “The Role of DLC in Gaming

  1. My favorite example of a game and its DLC is Oblivion. Horse Armor was practically a joke and definitely one of your “easy money DLC’s.” That being said, it also has Shivering Isles, which is one of my favorite DLC’s in gaming.

    1. Horse Armor does sound rather ridiculous. But Shivering Isles (and Oblivion itself) are definitely on my list to checkout.

    2. Edit: I’ve chosen this post as one of my “top choices.” I think DLC was something we probably could have talked a bit more about in class, so I’m glad you were able to post about it here! The comments section was particularly successful, and you managed to facilitate an interesting discussion online!

  2. I particularly enjoyed some of the map packs for MW3. However, my problem was that once they released the new map packs, the previous releases became almost unplayable online. If you chose the option to only play the newest map packs, it was literally only the newest 4. If you chose any other online option, it was extremely rare that everyone else would have the map pack. As someone who previewed the maps on youtube and only bought the most interesting ones, this problem was quite frustrating. However, the only way around this would be to have only one larger map pack release which Activision would never do since it would likely lose them money.

    1. Agreed. I feel as though they’re trying to train players to buy the season pass with their DLC releases, just so they can technically sell their games for $110 instead of $60 when they release. As for me, I only got the free maps for MW3, but I liked the idea of smaller maps, especially for splitscreen matches.

  3. I personally loved all of Fallout 3’s DLCs. They were all priced at $10 and offered around 5-10 hours of gameplay depending on how much you wanted to invest in the game (i.e. quickly run through the main missions or explore and collect everything). The best part about a good DLC is that it prompts you to enter back into the world of your favorite games that you may have completed and finished long ago; Not that one is needed, but a good DLC gives players a reason to continue playing their favorite games or go back and replay old favorites!

    1. I think you raise an excellent point. Though I’d also make the argument —in the case of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon— that DLC can be used to subvert the established game world.

      1. That is a great point. The world of Far Cry 3 and the world of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon are immensely different. The only similarities between the game and the DLC in this case are the game mechanics and the Far Cry 3 title.

    2. Fallout New Vegas’ DLC is also pretty incredible. They’re priced similarly to F3’s DLC, and they tie together (and to the base game’s setting) in a way that has really stuck with me. They’re definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.

  4. Payday 2, the cooperative multiplayer bank-robbing simulator, has a ridiculous amount of DLCs based around unlocking equipment or different type of heists. Some are reasonable purchases because they add significant replayability to the game by adding new mechanics and levels, such as robbing armored trucks. Others are based around unlocking weapon packs, which makes me feel like I’m playing a stunted version of the game when my teammates are running around with ridiculously powerful weaponry. Perhaps one distinguishing factor of badly designed DLC plan is that it makes a paid game start to feel like a free-to-play?

    1. Agreed. And I think any paid content that makes one player more powerful than another is poorly designed. DLC should add to the experience for everyone, not improve some peoples’ while detracting from others’.

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