Back in the day when the Xbox and PS2 were the current generation of gaming hardware, consumers would pay one price for a game of their choice, and that was it. One price for one game that included everything the game developers sought it out to be.
Fast forward a few years circa 2008, the popular video game Halo 2 took online gaming to a whole new level. After much success, the developers released a free update that included map packs for people to download for free.
Fast forward to now.
DLC (downloadable content) is associated with almost every single video game that has been released for the past 6 or so years. This would not be a problem, if it were free. However, it is not.
What is the problem with this?
The problem lies in the fact that developers are purposely leaving things out of a game to make people spend money on what should have been a complete purchase. Things such as maps, characters, missions, etc., are all examples of DLC that can be purchased to extend your playability of a certain game.
Why do developers do this to begin with? Because with every game they make, they make a small income after everything is said and done. They pay to ship the games out, the retailers to sell them, the packaging companies, the PR crew to advertise and publicize the game, and so on. By the time a single game is sold, they receive a small fraction of the price. DLC offers them a way to receive small chunks of money at a time, and the income goes directly to them.
Games such as Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed, Battlefield, Call of Duty, Far Cry 4 and many more all announce DLC before the game is even released.
Let me break this down with a first hand example. The upcoming game Assassin’s Creed Unity offers a “season pass” which includes “over 8 hours of bonus material” in two mini side campaigns, plus bonus missions and weapons.
If the game is not even released yet, how can developers justify not including this in the first place?
For games like Battlefield and Call of Duty, they too have a “seasons pass” type of deal, where over a span of a year or so, they will release map packs, usually ranging from 12-16 new maps for players to play online. This type of DLC costs $50, plus the initial purchase of the game ($60). Is $110 for one game really worth it, or even ethical?
Then there is the other type of DLC which includes minor game add-ons that are completely optional and give a player a certain edge over others. I am referring to the life of “virtual coins” for some games.
NBA 2k15, Madden 15, and FIFA 15 are all games that rake in millions of dollars per year solely from players buying online coins for their “Ultimate Teams.”
Ultimate Team in FIFA, for example, gives players the option to buy instead of earn coins, which unlocks player packs to complete their team. These coins are on a different scale from the earlier mentioned DLC, because it is not something the developers could have added to the game originally to make it complete.
The same applies in Call of Duty, yet again, where players can purchase weapon skins for a small price, usually $1-5 for a pack of them. Totally up to the player.
In my opinion, deciding to spend your own money on virtual coins or skins is completely fine. It is your choice, and it does not add or take away from the core game itself.
A similar senario would be buying a ton of extra songs on Guitar Hero, but we know that was just a phase in the past.
However, I do not agree with developers charging $50 for maps, missions, etc that easily could have been including with the game.
If I pay $60 for a game, I want the full game, the full experience. If I feel I have played my $60 worth and I want to extend the life of the game even more, than I can justify dishing out the extra money.
In the past, I have bought all the DLC for Skyrim because I could not get enough of it, and I have paid an extra $50 for Battlefield 3 and 4 to receive “Battlefield Premium,” a season pass that included perks, weapons, and 16 new multiplayer maps. Completely my choice, and I easily could have not purchased them.
To wrap this up, do we understand why developers do this? Yes, to make their money. However, can I see myself buying “extra” content before a game comes out? No, and you should not either.
I want a complete game worth the money I dished out for it. If developers are intentionally making an incomplete game to just make mony in the future off releasing DLC, then there is a problem.