Downloadable Content

2008-10-29

I find myself getting a bit tired of downloadable content. As a side note, I'm getting fed up of "exclusive" being banded around so much too, particularly when you think (a) no it's not, it's just like... and (b) it won't be for long. The worst culprits should, therefore, be exclusive downloadable content items but, to be honest, taking GTAIV exclusive to XB... good! Means it isn't being offered at a rip-off price on the PSN. The less DLC we have, the better, unless it's serious stuff.

DLC don't

Downloadable content should, under no circumstances, magically appear within two weeks of the game release, otherwise: why wasn't it in the game? I'd like to believe that it's down to "last minute changes of great importance" but, really, it's stupid costumes and miniscule add-ons that are allowing publishers/developers/whoevers to extract more money for their game, mere weeks after the game's release.

One terrible culprit is LittleBigPlanet. Recently, LittleBigPlanet featured the release of extra, "exclusive" costumes. Indeed they must be exclusive, because you'd be a nitwit to actually buy them. A free spacesuit and pumpkin thang, well, that's fine, though it once again begs the question: why wasn't it in the original release? However, £1 for a strange frog thing or gorilla? Taking the piddle. £1.49 for Sephiroth and Snake due in the future? Erm, they're cool, but that's not a good price! Consider the number of items in the release (and the fact that a huge amount of time went into building the levels), then add up what the game would cost if each costume was actually worth £1.49.

That still leaves the worst offender though: rare costumes! Oh yes, the release of special rare costumes. Actually, no, **** off and keep them. Rare? Never heard of ctrl+c and ctrl+v? It's just pixels on a screen! Not interested thanks. I'll make my own and, if that's never possible... the game isn't deserving of quite such high scores.

Now, it would be a fair (not really, just being generous) comment to say "if you don't like the dlc or its cost, then don't buy it".

I won't! No problem there! Still, I reserve the right to complain about the fact that there are some companies out there releasing full games like Blast Factor and flOw for £3.49, Stardust for £4.99 (might be cheaper these days), Bionic Commando for £6.99 and other fully functional, inventive and enjoyable games for less than a fiver and yet some developers think it's fine to charge virtually the same amount for a single character skin. If there's nothing that seems strange to you about that then this truly is a warped world we live in.

DLC do

If a game is released and, after it's in the shops, the developers realise there are things they can improve (perhaps bugs have been spotted, small fixes suggested by users, or maybe there are obvious ways in which the game can be expanded, well-beyond what it currently is, then developers are perfectly welcome to go back to work on the title and, if an expansion is a signficant step, then a charge can be considered. This charge should reflect the original price and content of the game, to gauge how much the expansion should cost. For example, if a game cost £39.99 and contained just four chairs, then the purchase of a new chair may, reasonably, cost up to £9.99. If the game is an entire creation with its own physics, animation style, characters, scripting, score, voicework and more, all for £39.99, then the addition of a new costume for one character in the game should cost about 3p which, since it would sell like paracetamol at that price, would actually make up the development cost for the full ten minutes that "Dave from Software" spent changing the colour from green to red, and adding the extra spike on the back of the main character's bag.

If the price is right and the content significant, DLC could be an excellent way forward, but the gates have been left open for all manner of trash to be delivered at extortionate prices. All Playstation Network users are appreciative of the fact that the network is free to use, but that isn't an excuse to take the piddle with DLC costs.

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