The Issues with DLC

Dead or Alive 5 is an extreme example of the issue with DLC.
Dead or Alive 5 is an extreme example of the issue with DLC.

DLC has become a staple of the gaming industry. DLC offers players the ability to add more content to their favorite games. This can mean hours more of a story or new weapons to play through the game with. Sadly, DLC has kind of gone in every direction imaginable. This article details some of my personal feelings towards the industry’s reliance on DLC sells. We will be talking about the different types of DLC in the industry and how they affect the games they are sold for.

Costumes everywhere

If you own any Japanese made games you’ve probably noticed that you can buy costumes for your characters. Want an angel they got you, want a bear they got you, want to pretend you are a character from Dragon Ball they got you. The amount of costume DLC that comes out for some games is completely insane. The packs can cost around $10 and quickly get to the point where buying all the bonuses outfit becomes more than the cost of the game. These games will even have costume DLC packs available the day the game launches. While I do appreciate the free sets on the day of launch, I have mixed feelings about purchasable DLC on day one.

Secondly, costumes do pretty much nothing to enhance your gameplay. Yeah, they can be funny at times to play through the game with, but that’s it. I don’t see why there are literally some games with $100 of dollars worth of costume packs for sale. I just feel like this effort could be better put in designing quests rather than flashy clothing pieces. I don’t want to dress up as random characters in Persona, I want more action from the Phantom Thieves. Same with fighting games that suffer from this, I’d prefer a new fighter being made than costumes for my existing ones.

Now, I am a little bit more lenient in MMO’s or free to play games. These games make a lot of their revenue from people shopping in the cash shops. At the same times though MMO’s are always being updated with free events and equipment. This almost feels like I can get more out of a game I didn’t even pay for at times. This didn’t even use to be a thing outside of MMO’s. This is because up until last gen any “DLC” you saw was mostly expansions for games like the Sims. These expansions usually came with huge packets of content other than costumes as well.

To me, and maybe this is because I’m older fashioned now. Costumes are something you unlock in-game or comes with expansions as bonuses. It’s just too hard for me to see paying for a Santa costume for my RPG character. I mean players themselves can easily make downloadable costume mods so why should companies waste there time? I feel like there are better ways to make money after a game launches other than trying to tack on costumes. Plus, these things should cost maybe a dollar at most a pop not $3.99 and up.

Quick Level Items

This is another thing I just don’t get wasting your money on. Look, I work two jobs and still have never felt the need to buy an XP boost. That’s mostly because the games I play can be beaten in 2-3 days without hitting the max level. If I feel the need to hit the max level in a game for any reason then I can just grind it out when I’m bored. Even in the most level-based games when you’re fighting enemies at or above your level you will level up pretty quickly.

To me, quick level items just aren’t worth the trouble. I mean if you really feel like you need to beat the game faster then why not just watch the cutscene online or something? Enjoying the gameplay is one of the major reasons for picking up a title. If you just want the story they have designed story modes that literally make the game a cakewalk so you can leisurely get through it without grinding. If this is for a trophy run then it’s a little more understandable, but to me, it’s kind of a let down to platinum a game in an unnatural way.

Next, a lot of games are now letting you just literally buy levels and items. That’s right for the price of just $7.99 you can buy 10 in-game levels to use on one save file. This goes in line with if you don’t want the gameplay just watch the cutscenes. I know some parts of games can be hard. Games can go from fun to frustrating fast, but there are so many ways you can learn how to beat a boss without spending your hard earned cash on a one time use level up.

Same things go for in-game items you can purchase as DLC. You don’t need to buy a health potion set you can get with in-game money. Anything you can earn within the game shouldn’t even be something you debate paying money for. On top of that, these companies are literally making money off people’s moments of frustration while playing there games. You don’t need the ultimate weapon to figure out that once bosses trick, just google it and spend your money on some to eat while you play.

Locked In-game Content

One of the worst things I have seen come out of this trend is locked content that is already in the game. This mostly has to do with things like Amiibos or figure collectors. These game already have the content within them, but to access it you need to make extra purchases. This to me is just kind of insane. I pay for the game, but basically, have to pay an extra fee to access parts of the game I have already paid for. That’s even worse than paying for costumes to me, I should already have any content that’s in the base game unlocked upon purchase.

This gets even worse when you finally gave and decide you want to buy an Amiibo to unlock the content. Sadly, most of the things are still made in small batches making it super hard to actually buy them. This can make it so you can never have a completely open game. With the Metroid remake, you even have to have a certain Amiibo to unlock the hardest difficulty. If we are going to have to pay for parts of our games I would at least like to do so easily. In this case, I’m all for some digital DLC from Nintendo for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to get a Wedding Bowser.

DLC For Unfinished Games

This one is a huge complaint from gaming communities on Steam. Whenever you purchase a game that’s still being worked on the last thing you want to see is them put out DLC. This is because that means that they literally stopped working on the game and decided to make an expansion for it. On top of this player who is already supporting the game by playing it in alpha are now being targeted to give the company even more money.

This has left several communities in an uproar and blacklisted the games. Games that have had positive reviews generally fall into the negative from the backlash of the fans. If they do decide to buy the DLC then how can we guarantee it will even work properly with the base game still in production? Even if the creators say they had a separate team to work on the add-on to players that will just be more people they could have put on completing the game faster. At the very least the company could have done a campaign to raise money if they needed it.

Season Passes

And this is how you end up with Tekken Bowling... #regretbuyingthis
And this is how you end up with Tekken Bowling... #regretbuyingthis

Season Passes aren’t something I’m totally against. I get that developers may come up with ideas during development that they want to put in games. A lot of the time if you buy the season pass when you pick up the game you will even get a discount. This makes it easier for players to get more out of their games in the long run. Most games even have ultimate editions now that you can purchase that will automatically come with the pass for around $19.99 more than the base game.

I do feel that there is a lot of pressure for literally every western game to come with DLC already planned out. I wonder how this affects the development team in production. It’s hard to put together a coherent game already and with the pressure of coming up with future content, it may put extra stress on the teams. Just think of it this way you already have a job, but now your job wants you to plan out a future job while working on your current job. That just sounds like a confusing hassle to try and put up with already.

Fans of the games also have heightened expectations when they buy these passes. Fans expect half a game’s worth of content when they are paying $30 for a season pass at launch. This forces the teams to try and figure out things that can expand upon their games. While this may not sound like that horrible of a situation, sometimes DLC just doesn’t work. Other times companies will push out things like costume packs and then claim it’s worth $10 making a good portion of your season pass price “accounted for.”

The fact is companies can claim any price they want on content. Even though a costume pack for Witcher is $2.99 one for Skyrim could be $9.99. There is no set market value for DLC types making some season passes a complete gamble. While this has gotten better with some companies having a list of coming content. A lot of passes literally are sold with no promises other than them giving you “your monies worth.” This is especially concerning when buying a pass for a new franchise or company that doesn’t have a pattern of content that you can look into before purchase.

Let’s talk about the last dark part of the DLC world paid mods. Paid mods can be a great way for upcoming game developers to make money off of all of their hard work. This, of course, means that the company putting out the paid mods would have to vet what type of content is coming through their service. Sadly, this isn’t being done that well whenever paid mods have popped up. This has caused the gaming community to almost completely throw out the idea for games on Steam or console.

This comes back to the whole DLC pricing situation. I can write some pretty convince product descriptions when I need too. The problem is so can these people if they hire a professional writer to make their mod sound better than it is. This can lead to a lot of people paying money to someone who barely put any work in. in the meantime, the creator who made a whole new quest arc for the game gets nothing because they priced their work low and didn’t have the funds to pay a writer for a premium description of their product.

Next, if the companies feel that a modder is talented then why can’t they make a deal with them and just officially released the mod as DLC? I mean sure it isn’t just as simple as that, but it’s better than people getting ripped off or talented designers not being recognized by the industry. Next, if we are going to have a system for buying mods then it needs to have a hard vetting process of the designers who want to sell their mods. There should even be pricing charts according to what the creators are trying to sell as an add-on.

Jessica has been working with the gaming industry for about two years now. She enjoys playing quirky Japanese games and learning about the newest trivia in the industry. When not working with games you may find her chilling with her naked cat Prince Noko... he's pretty cool we guess.