You wouldn’t buy a car with brakes that were sold separately or a couch that charged an extra $20 for cushions, so why would you buy a video game that’s only partially finished? Thanks to the recent trend of DLC, big-name developers are becoming increasingly comfortable selling you games that aren’t even finished.
Sure, DLC is perfectly fine in theory. Fans love a game and, six months or so later, the developer decides to add in a new level or expansion to keep things fresh and interesting. Unfortunately, most instances of DLC are less about extending a game’s lifespan and more about charging you twice for the same game.
One commenter from Reddit perfectly summed up the horrors of how DLC turned evil:
Member Expansion packs?
Because developers started using it as an excuse to withhold content that would otherwise have been included with the game. The fact that some DLC is released on Day 1 or is used as a preorder incentive or, much worse, a store-exclusive incentive doesn’t help with this impression.
Here are just a few of the ways that mainstream developers have used DLC to screw over the gaming community.
Day One DLC
If normal DLC is kicking a puppy, day one DLC is tying a puppy to your shoe and using it to kick an orphan. This special type of evil is what occurs when developers have a finished game the day of release, but decide it’d be more fun to see if they can charge an extra $15 for content that should’ve been included in the main game.
One of the most infamous examples of this travesty is the inclusion of Javik as day one DLC in Mass Effect 3. Javik was a fully fleshed out character who brought a new level of immersion and depth to the universe, and he was inexplicably cut from the main game. So why did Bioware cut him out of the base game?
In short: because they saw an opportunity to make money. They knew that people would be willing to pay for the “extra” character, so they set him aside as DLC. Not only does this unnecessarily waste your money, but it shows the moral bankruptcy of a company which has no issue charging gamers extra for content that they’ve already paid for.
In my cycle, I would have come with the damn game… #FreeJavik
Of course, DLC doesn’t just force players to pay extra the day they buy a game. It can also potentially give developers an excuse to release a game before it’s ready and force gamers to pay later for the completed product.
Selling Incomplete Games
The opposite of day one DLC is the equally terrible offense of selling incomplete games to customers. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood committed this gaming sin by offering additional levels as DLC, which may seem like a harmless act, but actually made the base game impossible to complete without the additional purchase.
DLC was never intended to be an excuse to let developers finish their games past the date of release or charge customers an extra fee just to get the total package. During the golden era of video games, people didn’t play arcade games because they wanted new expansions every couple of months or were looking to buy additional character skins. They played arcade games because the game was built on a solid foundation and focused on fun over profits.
Thankfully, not every game developer has sold their soul, and there are still plenty of devs who would never use DLC as an excuse to rip off gamers. It is worth noting, however, that most of these developers work at retro game companies.
The Retro Experience
The increase of DLC is notably a trend only for AAA titles. Indie studios, particularly those that specialize in retro releases, tend to stick to the novel idea of selling the whole game up front. While DLC has taken the modern game world by storm, those who love retro games refuse to give in to this malicious phenomenon.
Imagine if Super Mario Kart had insisted that players buy cartridges containing different characters or new outfits; it never would’ve seen a single sale. In the glory days of home video games, a completed product was what gamers expected and nobody was willing to settle for anything less. Thankfully, there are certain indie companies who still honor this tradition. At Mega Cat Studios, we focus on retro style games, after all, you can’t even make DLC for Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo.
Yes, people still make games for Sega Genesis. You can check out coffee crisis here
Even today, when you buy a game for a retro console, you can be sure that you’re purchasing the game in its entirety (Incoming: game plugs!). There’s no risk that you’ll need to pay for new skins as a zombie-sawing lumberjack or purchase cartridges with hidden levels for your new Australian arcade racer. In short, retro video games offer the same advantage that they always have: they’re reliable and don’t come with the extra bells and whistles that ruin perfectly good video games.
Is Modern Gaming Dead?
Fortunately, it isn’t all doom and gloom for modern gaming. The redditor who asked “How did DLC end up being a bad thing?” Made an edit to his post after being given some wisdom:
Basically, if you make DLC, don’t be a scumbag!