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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why We Need Downloadable Content (aka DLC)

First off, lets talk about what is downloadable content. Back in the OG years of gaming, what you bought is what you got. You couldn't go to the store and buy some extra content for your game, your game would never get any added content so you know when you bought something your game was, for all purposes as defined by the developer, complete. With the exception of games like Pokemon where your game had some Pokemon and the alternate version had other Pokemon your game didn't have, you were pretty much screwed if you wanted any more play out of your current game other than what it already offered. Now PC games were a little bit different but downloadable content wasn't as wide spread as it is now. Downloadable content, better known as DLC in this day and age, is a way for developers to change that. DLC ranges from huge things where entire maps are added to a game or smaller ones where weapons or certain minor things could be added to a game. Recently, however, this has taken a turn for the worst. If you didn't know, DLC is a way for developers to get a little more money from their game. As games take years to produce, even minor ones take about two years and bigger ones can take up to five, the money doesn't constantly roll in and dwindles exponentially as time passes since the game's release. Now if your a game developer, the first thing you want is to make the most amount of money on your game. The problem with this is not all of the DLC you release is going to be good or be taken by the consumer with loving arms. Many game developers have released massive amounts of DLC, taking the 'quantity over quality' view on it. Because of this many gamers have voiced their outrage.

Here's a perfect example. I bought a game a couple of months ago called Dragon's Dogma. If you haven't played it, I urge you to check it out because I personally think the game is awesome. Anyways, the game has a learning curve, which basically means the game is pretty tough if you aren't skilled or a level grinder. The game is an RPG so what you'll be focusing your time on besides doing quests and killing monsters is gathering weapons, armor, cash and items to upgrade your weapons and armor effectively making the game a bit less difficult depending on how frugal you are. Starting the game off you are pretty weak, as is shown during the first game's fight with the game's final boss. If you look on the market place (for me I use an Xbox 360) there are plenty of DLCs available for you to purchase for real world money. I saw some cool weapons and armor so I decided to purchase them for my game. It was then to my surprise that these weapons and armor, for lack of a better term, suck. It was then my thought, "Hey, I'm a level 40 character who's killed plenty of monsters and finished the game so of course these are going to be worthless to me." Thinking that I started a new game with an entirely new character. Now, for those of you who have played this game, you'll see my frustration with this soon. Surprising these weapons also sucked for my new character but just slightly. The problem with this even further than purchasing some practically useless stuff was the fact that this game does not allow for two different character profiles at the same time. So I had to delete my 50+ hour character permanently and now I have nothing to show for it. Recently I picked up the game again because it is still fun for me. I decided to buy more content on the market place. There are these little quests on here and plenty of them. The quests I purchased were actually ten mini side quests in which I walk around this massive map and pick up these coins. There's nothing else to that, I just pick up coins. Now, I do get gold for completing everyone of these mini quests and get XP for them but, really? Coin fetching?

So here's why I'm going to tell you why DLCs are good and actually there is one single reason why they are: they keep developers making games. Let's forget that there are a lot of useless DLCs out there and focus that these things give the game makers more money to create better games. If a game is bad then people won't buy the game. This then forces the game devs to make a better game. If they don't make a better game then they go out of business because no one wants to support them. What we as gamers have to understand is that games take massive amounts of money. To put that in perspective, Grand Theft Auto 4 took roughly 100 million dollars to make and as usual, Rockstar (the game's developer) made a great game and they are currently making a 5th installment in the franchise set to release next year. That game is at this moment the highest budget game yet so the 5th may be even more. Rockstar has released DLC for GTA and Red Dead Redemption, two of it's most successful games. Where little can be said about GTA's DLC being more of a decent continuation of the story, not being bad or great, Red Dead's Undead Nightmare DLC was met with a lot of praise. Simply put, if you like a company or a game, put money into because that tells the dev that you liked the game and you want to support them. If enough people do this, games will get increasingly better because the devs will want to create something even better to get even more money next time.

I get why people don't like DLC, you just need to understand that there is a good reason behind it. When people do good things they should be rewarded, just as the opposite should be true. What I sometimes forget is I am the game industry's boss. I reward my employees when they do something good, they get chastised for doing something bad and fired for continuing to make bad things (save for Lionhead studios, some how they just barely slip under the radar or at least Peter Molyneux for that matter; see the Fable series in a whole for what I'm talking about). The flip side to this is I have millions of people as my co-boss. My friends are my co-bosses, my family, my neighbors and even you. What you have to understand is that we define this industry. Without us, they would be nothing. Reward progress, innovation and people making good things. Punish those who tarnish this industry by not buying their crap. The last reason and the most important reason we need DLC is because it keeps games games. The last thing I heard from Molyneux about his newest 'project' was it was going to be a box. Just that, a box. Now there is some psychological validation to this. You see he interpreted it as being an activity that every single can participate in, but there's only one box. Now people spend money to increase their chances of getting into this box. The only bad part is that what's in the box may not be what you want it. So being the highest ranked person in "The Box" (really there's no other name for this 'game') will crack the box open and find nothing he/she wants. The reason we pay for DLC is because we are telling developers to make more of whatever we just bought, like a pie chart and the biggest piece gives the company ideas on their next project. So we can be free of men like Molyneux and their box. If that project does go through, I have sympathy on the person who opens that box, because I bet it's just a picture of Molyneux and some text saying, "sucker."

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