"DLC" or "This topic would be better if it came on a disc."

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I know it's been discussed in the past, but I still like the subject. I keep waiting for Lard to make the topic, but he never does because he hates me, so I'll do it for him.

Downloadable Content. What are you thoughts? My thoughts are that I like it.

"But MechaSlinky, you hilarious and handsome sex-knight, what happens when the downloadable content is taken off the servers during the great Scrobot* Wars?"

Well, it's a good thing that most of it is simply little bits of extra content for a game you're probably not going to be playing enough in 10 years to really care about the little bits of extra content!

"But what about the full games that are downloadable that I know I'll want to play in 10 years?"

Whose to say for sure that those games won't still be available? There are plenty of old games that are still available today. Some through totally legal means like GOGCOM (Support GWJ! Click on scary metal face!) and some through less than legal means like INTERNET. If enough people want something, someone will usually find a way to make it happen.

"But what if it's illegal? Unlike you, I don't like raping and pillaging!"

Then you are not allowed into my Vikings Club! Vikings are like pirates, but they have sex with women. Big, burly women with hairy feet!

Also, if you've paid for something and it no longer works, is doing what you have to do to make it work again really stealing? Probably. Either way, this is getting off topic. And I never said I condone stealing, unless you're wearing a furry hat with horns on it!

Point is, I like DLC, but it's not perfect and there are potential problems. But, you know, a problem just needs a solution. So, what are the problems, what are the solutions?

The game you like having is about to be pulled from the servers? Download it and never let it go before it's gone. Or maybe if enough people complain, they won't take it down. Maybe it'll keep selling enough to make it worth keeping on the server? Magical computer internet spaces are getting bigger and cheaper all the time. A big file today is a small file a few years from tomorrow. There's no guarantee that the game will be taken away from you. There's no guarantee your physical copy will keep working forever. There's just no guarantee, so why worry. If it's a game you want, get it. Enjoy it. If it's gone one day, at least you got to play it while it existed rather than moping in the corner and refusing to play it now because you might not get to play it in a decade when you don't even have any time to play anything outside of Final Fantasy Versus 56 Hyperfighting Sigma Chipotle, Mario & Sonic Teach You To Survive Terrorism and World of Modern Warfarecraft.

But, you know, that's not fair. Why start a topic and then argue against worrying about the topic at hand? What are the concerns with DLC? What's the good side? Why is this an issue?

*Scrobots are robot scrotums, created after the Great Deballing as mandated by the World Government (China).

"DLC FOR ALL!"

(Boo!)

"DLC FOR NO ONE!"

(Boo!)

"DLC FOR SOME! TINY AMERICAN FLAGS FOR OTHERS!"

(Cheers!)

DLC is a chimera.

No - Certis

It's quite clear that DLC is a method of raising prices on games, on monetizing gamers. It's explicitly about reducing the value we get per dollar.

So I don't buy DLC, and I don't buy games that don't provide enough for the initial purchase price. I did buy the full version of Dragon Age, because there are so few good RPGs anymore, and my suspicions were confirmed; no way is any of the extra content worth what they're charging for it. But the rest of the game was so outstanding in terms of value per dollar that the extra $15 or so was no big deal. In that particular case, I'm not upset about it. I knew the full price going in, paid it, and I'm done.

I could potentially change my mind if a given DLC pack really did provide value for money spent, but I haven't seen that yet. If DLC packs were more like full expansions/sequels to the original game, I could potentially be convinced to buy, but essentially all versions of DLC so far have been little content at relatively outrageous prices.

I'm not so addicted that I need to play any particular game.

Malor wrote:

It's quite clear that DLC is a method of raising prices on games, on monetizing gamers. It's explicitly about reducing the value we get per dollar.

That not clear at all. In some cases, sure. In other cases it is a way of continuing to release content for a game without going the full expansion pack route. You can't honestly argue that DLC like the Fallout 3 addons was all developed prior to the game's release and held back so it could be sold later. The thing is, 5 years ago we'd get a game, and 6-12 months later we'd get an expansion pack in the $30-$40 dollar range. Now we get the same content spread out over several DLC releases with a shorter release cycle. The pricing doesn't always work out the same, but publishers are still figuring out what consumers will and won't tolerate.

Malor wrote:

It's quite clear that DLC is a method of raising prices on games, on monetizing gamers. It's explicitly about reducing the value we get per dollar.

So I don't buy DLC, and I don't buy games that don't provide enough for the initial purchase price.

All of gaming is about selling games, so therefore it's about turning those interested in playing games into consumers of particular titles, which is what I suppose you mean by "monetizing gamers." If one follows this logic, you would have to give up gaming (and most hobbies) altogether.

The problem arises when the fanboys start shouting out that they would gladly pay money for x or pay twice as much as y because it's so awesome. Followed by the "I'll buy that day 1, no matter how bad it is" attitude that a lot of people have doesn't help.

In a world where people buy $5 lightsabres for their avatar, I honestly think the publishers will keep upping the price and lowering the content quality because you will always get the tools who will buy it and accept that.

Then justifying it by saying things like, "Well, I can spend $7 on two lattes and they're finished in less than an hour". It's just a stupid argument.

BlackSabre wrote:

In a world where people buy $5 lightsabres for their avatar, I honestly think the publishers will keep upping the price and lowering the content quality because you will always get the tools who will buy it and accept that.

That's not a problem unique to DLC, that's just capitalism at work. You can make that argument about anything.

Then justifying it by saying things like, "Well, I can spend $7 on two lattes and they're finished in less than an hour". It's just a stupid argument.

Why is that a stupid argument?

I don't see too much of a problem if the original game feels complete, and the DLC actually is like a mini-expansion

What I do have a problem with, is when a game feels woefully inadaquete, incomplete, buggy and you'll have to buy the DLC to make it all right. Usually when a DLC comes out 1-2 weeks after the release of the game, it sorta makes me think they should have stuck that crap into the actual release

As much as I like yelling at Steam when servers are down or when Steam Cloud is being retarded, at least Valve gives its PC users love, and usually gives DLCs for free

Look at Left 4 Dead 1. Even without its 2 (free) DLCs, the core game is pretty complete and playable. For those of you who don't play L4d1, the first DLC added a "survival" mode and the second one added a new minicampaign.

As for Fallout 3, I haven't got around to it but I have heard the original game is easily over 100 hours of gameplay with a standalone storyline. In this case, I think having a few separate DLCs is "fair", whatever that means in the world of capitalism.

I don't understand this debate.

I've been presented with opportunities to buy DLC before. Sometimes I buy. Sometimes I don't. I've never felt cheated by publishers and no one but me compels me to purchase additional content. Sometimes, I don't like the additional content (Fallout 3). Sometimes, I do (Dragon Age). In both cases, I don't blame or thank the concept of downloadable content. I blame or thank the companies.

I guess my point is, you are certainly well within your rights as a consumer to decide whether or not to buy a product. What bothers me is when people who do not buy the product essentially accuse those who do of being mindless idiots. Everyone places a different value on things they like. Why can't we all just get along?

Zero Day DLC is taboo to me. I don't like it. Smacks of a cold, cash grab. Ergo the recent Dragon Age stuff. It was overpriced for very little content and a utility of somewhat dubious use.

DLC releases that come after the game is delivered? I don't really know. No amount of DLC released to date has really sparked my interest.

For what it's worth though, I look at most DLC in the same way I look at expansions. It's a way of capitalizing on an existing property. It's smaller, and cheaper. It's something businesses have been doing and will continue to do for a long time to come.

It's when we start to lose pieces of games, real content that was developed before release, making incomplete experiences, that I will truly hate DLC. For now, It's rather neutral.

I know I'm just going to get shouted down, so I'm not even going to bother.

NSMike wrote:

It's when we start to lose pieces of games, real content that was developed before release, making incomplete experiences, that I will truly hate DLC. For now, It's rather neutral.

I'm not against all DLC at all, and I'm not even necessarily against all release window DLC (in that I am sympathetic to the economic stress on developers of games that have high budgets but don't appeal to the frat-boy crowd). But developers are already holding back material to sell as early DLC. I remember a journalist on a podcast (Rebel FM?) recently saying he had confirmed examples of developers holding back finished product from games for DLC, and we have already had situations like the RE5 MP mode.

Grubber788 wrote:

I don't understand this debate.

It's quite simple, really. There are a group of gamers out there who hold the borderline religious belief that any content released via DLC is either content that should have been in the game in the first place, or was in the game but was cut so that they could charge extra for it. Dragon Age is a prime example of this: here is a game that is inarguable a complete and well realised experience, and the vanilla experience is thoroughly enjoyable. The fact that DLC was immediately available for those who wanted additional content, however, drove the aforementioned group into a righteous fury. In their mind, if the DLC content existed at the time of game launch, then Bioware had an almost moral obligation to include it.

And this seems to be the big disconnect. One group of gamers sees a discrete base game, with additional pay content for those interested. The other group seems to see games based on time segments, with all game content within a given time period being paid for by the purchase price of the game. To the latter group, the existence of peri-launch DLC represents content to which they're entitled, but are being required to pay additional monies for.

I don't think that any of us would argue that a core game fixed by DLC is acceptable, but I think that the assertion that all or even most DLC is ripping gamers off and lowering game quality is unsupported by the evidence.

Lard wrote:

I know I'm just going to get shouted down, so I'm not even going to bother.

Personally, I am pretty interested in what your actual stance is, since your reputation, as it were, precedes you. I've been picking it up piecemeal from your posts in other threads, but I'm personally pretty curious -- curious enough that I was genuinely surprised to see you picking up the GOTY Fallout 3 edition, since that does technically have a disc worth of DLC, you know?

No, I feel like a simple position post wouldn't be out of line in this thread.

As for me, I'm probably in the case-by-case-basis camp. I feel like there have been scores of games with high-quality DLC packages -- Fallout 3, GTA IV being notable examples -- where both a) the distance from zero-day release, and b) the depth of the content both warranted the purchase. To a certain degree, too, purchasing it as DLC as opposed to say, on disc (which both games have offered) means you're paying a bit of a premium to be an early adopter. But I also think -- again, just using those two games as pure examples -- the quality is a determining factor.

I think there has been plenty of other examples of the opposite view -- either the cashing in, not-worth-the-size-of-the-download end of things, or the cynical "greedy developers/publishers holding back content that should have been on the disc" view -- to counter those two measly examples.

Personally, though, the waters of the debate get muddy when we start ascribing motivation, one way or t'other, when a simple baseline consideration of "nobody wants to make something sh*tty" might make a healthy debate over the relative quality of whatever DLC relatively palatable.

Tycho had a really humorous newspost a while back, basically saying that the DLC armor he had paid for was equipped on a character that left his party permanently.

Dunno how the rest of the target demo would react to something like that, but it certainly strikes against the idea that your purchased DLC items are immutable.

I think we should remember, for just a second, that MS has very strict policies in place for monetizing DLC. I know that the guys who released Castle Crashers really wanted their King Pack DLC (which added 2 characters, weapons, and animal orbs) to be free, but MS simply couldn't bear to give it away. Wasn't there something like that for L4d as well? It's hard to say what kinds of things we could be getting for free if the Devs and publishers had more discrete control over pricing.

This may be off topic, but what about games where the only thing you pay for is DLC? You get a core game as a free download, with not much in the way of content, and you buy piecemeal the stuff you want and toss the rest. It's already been proven a viable business model in several instances. Is it the same? Or is it different because the greedy evil megaconglomerates want you to buy the incomplete game and the DLC that comes after?

NSMike wrote:

Zero Day DLC is taboo to me. I don't like it. Smacks of a cold, cash grab.

This is a bit of a quandary to me. I understand the feeling that if it comes out Day 1, it feels like a cash grab. But that seems to imply that if developers do the exact same thing - create content to be released alongside the game - but then sit on it for a couple weeks, that feels better without actually being any better. How many times have you looked at DLC for a game a month or two after the game came out, and the download is a suspicious ~186 KB? You can be sure that's exactly what happened here - content is on the disc already, and the DLC code just 'unlocks' it.

Personally, I understand why DLC is being pushed so hard right now, and I too fear the slippery slope that it has already led to. I think, as gamers, it would be nice (for reference purposes) if there was a site or forum that people could exchange information about whether a game has this kind of BS DLC or true, large content for download. But as it stands now, the only way to take a stab at it is to buy the game, look at the DLC download size, and make an inference.

But the cold, hard truth is, it's a way for companies to make more money, so it's gonna get done. Period. And if that means the average price of video games is going to go up, as it did from from $50 to $60, to $70 or more, well... we can either keep buying, quit buying, or buy more judiciously. I plan on the latter. I keep myself warm at night by remembering how little game I used to get on the NES for that $50. Except Mario 3. That sh*t was packed.

muttonchop wrote:
Then justifying it by saying things like, "Well, I can spend $7 on two lattes and they're finished in less than an hour". It's just a stupid argument.

Why is that a stupid argument?

I think it's sorta silly. Food and coffee are different things than electronic entertainment. I occasionally buy expensive sugar concoctions, but I wouldn't pay (for example) $420 ($7/hr*60hrs) for Dragon Age. Different types of products; different ways to value them.

You know, on the plus side, Burnout Paradise has had HUGE amounts of content added through their DLC. While one of the islands is a pay-to-play thing, the addition of bikes (which, technically, should be a huge addition) was absolutely free.

Staats wrote:

I think it's sorta silly. Food and coffee are different things than electronic entertainment. I occasionally buy expensive sugar concoctions, but I wouldn't pay (for example) $420 ($7/hr*60hrs) for Dragon Age. Different types of products; different ways to value them.

I'd agree that it's a little silly when put in terms of time, but I suspect most people mean it in terms of enjoyment (obviously a very nebulous value). The total enjoyment one expects to get from $10 of DLC, when weighed against the enjoyment one expects to get from two cups of frou-frou caffeinated beverage, is probably substantially greater. In perhaps a more apples-to-apples comparison, I find that I derive more entertainment for my dollar from gaming than I do from going to a movie theatre. Overall, then, it makes better sense for me to invest in a $50 game than it does to spend $50 seeing movies. For others, the value judgement is different. Clearly, it doesn't preclude the less-valued activity, but it can be a useful metric if one's funds are limited.

muttonchop wrote:
BlackSabre wrote:

In a world where people buy $5 lightsabres for their avatar, I honestly think the publishers will keep upping the price and lowering the content quality because you will always get the tools who will buy it and accept that.

That's not a problem unique to DLC, that's just capitalism at work. You can make that argument about anything.

Then justifying it by saying things like, "Well, I can spend $7 on two lattes and they're finished in less than an hour". It's just a stupid argument.

Why is that a stupid argument?

It's stupid because your comparing two insanely different items and saying that just because you can complete both within an hour makes it justified. Honestly, if I bought some food for $50 that took me 100 hours to eat it, I'd f*cking die! The concept is absurd.

We buy different things in this world for different reasons. Comparing them on one level and ignoring all other aspects is not a valid justification in my opinion.

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not against DLC. I like many others here go on a case by case basis. I liked the DLC from Fallout 3 and Burnout Paradise, thought they were an ok price for what I wanted and bought them. I also plan on buying the DLC for Assassin's Creed 2... but it depends on how good it is. If it looks like garbage, then I probably wont.

Here are my thoughts on zero-day DLC. First, if the DLC is ready at launch it means one of two things:

1) The content was developed at the same time as the rest of the game and held back to be released as DLC
2) The content was developed after the game went gold.

In situation #2, I see no reason why you should feel entitled to something that wasn't part of the core release. You're paying for the product that went gold, not anything that was created between then and release day.

If situation #1 actually happens, then yeah, that's pretty crappy. However, I seriously doubt that it happens very often. Here's why:
-Until you release your game, you are losing money.
-All content takes time to create.

So in order to create and hold back content, you have to hope that the DLC sales will make up for the money you lost by delaying the game's release. Delaying the release of a game also carries other risks, for example:
-a competing product may be released first, and steal sales from your product
-if you take too long you may alienate part of your customer base, losing sales
-if you really take too long, your game might end up too far behind the technology curve, which could also cost you sales

If it's a widely anticipated game like another Halo sequel or something, the "hold back content" strategy could probably pay off. For new franchises or lower profile releases though, it seems incredibly risky. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but I doubt it happens as often as the anti-DLC crowd thinks it does.

This is a bit of a quandary to me. I understand the feeling that if it comes out Day 1, it feels like a cash grab. But that seems to imply that if developers do the exact same thing - create content to be released alongside the game - but then sit on it for a couple weeks, that feels better without actually being any better. How many times have you looked at DLC for a game a month or two after the game came out, and the download is a suspicious ~186 KB? You can be sure that's exactly what happened here - content is on the disc already, and the DLC code just 'unlocks' it.

I do definitely consider disc unlocks in the same family as zero-day DLC.

And maybe it feels different without being different when they hold back finished content, but really, so long as the $60 (or $50 for PC :D) to-market product is a complete experience, it doesn't really matter.

Take the upcoming Assassin's Creed 2 DLC, which apparently fleshes out a period of time that was just fast-forwarded in-game (I haven't gotten there yet). Whether or not that DLC was included in the $60 disc they sold at the beginning is irrelevant to me, because so far, AC2 has delivered much more than some of its other $60 fellows. And it, in no way, feels incomplete.

Malor wrote:

It's quite clear that DLC is a method of raising prices on games, on monetizing gamers. It's explicitly about reducing the value we get per dollar.

I do see where you are coming from, but I think the issue is a little deeper than the simple cash-grab you make it sound like here.

We as consumers are becoming increasingly demanding and this is pushing the cost of production of games up to ridiculous levels. This is forcing publishers and developers to explore further avenues of income.

DLC is one of these experiments, and is a symptom of the corporations struggles to survive in a time of increasing cost, increasing competition and less certain sales.

Malor wrote:

So I don't buy DLC, and I don't buy games that don't provide enough for the initial purchase price. I did buy the full version of Dragon Age, because there are so few good RPGs anymore, and my suspicions were confirmed; no way is any of the extra content worth what they're charging for it. But the rest of the game was so outstanding in terms of value per dollar that the extra $15 or so was no big deal. In that particular case, I'm not upset about it. I knew the full price going in, paid it, and I'm done.

I could potentially change my mind if a given DLC pack really did provide value for money spent, but I haven't seen that yet. If DLC packs were more like full expansions/sequels to the original game, I could potentially be convinced to buy, but essentially all versions of DLC so far have been little content at relatively outrageous prices.

And here I agree.

Dragon Age, as it is on disc, is a complete game. I've played games since long before Diablo II included a stash, so it isn't something I feel the need for, so Warden's Keep has little value for me, I don't intend to buy it. I may change my mind some time, but I don't see it happening.

I actually feel that in a lot of ways DA is the wrong game to offer DLC on, because there is just so much content, and different ways to approach it, that there is little need to buy DLC to expand the experience. I would be interested in seeing the sales for the DLC.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Crystal ball time.

What I actually see as the future of AAA single player titles is something like this.

Multiple SKUs of a game, starting at $20 for a 10-15 hour (maybe shorter) single player experience.

Progressively more expensive releases that include expanded content, this content also available to purchase separately to owners of the base game, on day one.

Cheaper SKU's would most likely only be available for download due to retailer pressure and reluctance to waste shelf space on low priced items that have potential income streams for other parties.

DLC prices will need to come down, at the moment the corporations are still finding their way.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

I actually feel that in a lot of ways DA is the wrong game to offer DLC on, because there is just so much content, and different ways to approach it, that there is little need to buy DLC to expand the experience. I would be interested in seeing the sales for the DLC.

Dragon Age sold $1M worth of DLC by a couple weeks after its launch. I haven't seen any numbers since.

I think the whole "holding back content" conspiracy theories are suspect. Day zero DLC is (usually) nothing more than a developer continuing to work on a game after it is released to manufacturing, just like day zero patches fix bugs that they couldn't get to before the ship deadline.

In the case of unlocks, or content that comes free with new purchases but is also offered as DLC, I think publishers are smart to try to make money on used game sales.

I miss the days when some great games were supported for years after their release. Those are fewer and farther between now, largely because game development has become so expensive. If extending the life of a game means spending $5 or $10 every month or two for new goodies, I'm on board. Of course, that approach is useless to some of the gaming butterflies around these parts.

Why is it bad for game companies to raise prices? The market will decide if those prices are acceptable.

So, in their attempt to raise prices, game companies have decided to accommodate one faction by releasing less content for the price those consumers want. For the people that want more, they offer DLC that increases the cost of the game for them, but provides some content in exchange.

In this way, it is really just win/win. I know some gamers want that content for free. But I want free lattes, too.

It really is okay for game companies to try to increase prices, and to do so by giving the willing part of the market extra content. The other option is to include all of the content, but raise the price for everyone.

BadKen wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

I actually feel that in a lot of ways DA is the wrong game to offer DLC on, because there is just so much content, and different ways to approach it, that there is little need to buy DLC to expand the experience. I would be interested in seeing the sales for the DLC.

Dragon Age sold $1M worth of DLC by a couple weeks after its launch. I haven't seen any numbers since.

So about 143,000 downloads of Warden's Keep. Doesn't seem like much, no one is buying a Lamborghini from the 'immoral' sales of DLC.

BadKen wrote:

I miss the days when some great games were supported for years after their release.

Don't we all? But some of us realise these days are gone, others are denying the economic realities.

Jayhawker wrote:

Why is it bad for game companies to raise prices? The market will decide if those prices are acceptable.

Exactly, paid for DLC is just a form of inflation. The right of the consumer in a capitalist society is to either purchase or not purchase. The problem is the internet is a hive of entitled whiners.

I have zero problem paying for more content. If a game is complete, fun, I would LOVE to buy more of it. You want to sell me more L4D? Hell yeah I will buy it. I have already played 71 hours of L4D2 so I hardly feel that buying more of it is going to reduce the value. As long as we are getting complete products (and this has nothing to do with length) I don't mind having the option to buy more of it.

Day one DLC doesnt bother me either. So what if they could have included it in the full game? If you feel that you recieved a full game for what you initially paid then you got what you paid for. Having more available to buy doesn't reduce the value of what you did purchase.

On a final note, I think DLC is a stupid term. Everything we buy without discs is DLC. Someone come up with a better term.

NathanialG wrote:

I think DLC is a stupid term. Everything we buy without discs is DLC. Someone come up with a better term.

Hmmm, interesting idea. DLC is a pretty entrenched term though, so it will need to be catchy, and poetic would be nice.

How about:
'Tears of the forum dweller'

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