DLC can subtract from a game and divide a community

Downloadable content (DLC) is supposed to add to a game. New maps, weapons, game modes and cosmetic upgrades can keep players interested in a game long after the original release date. A lot of developers used to include tools into games to allow customisation and map creation and sometimes they would even release free map packs periodically.

Unfortunately this has been lost on most producers and developers and now it’s just another way to milk every last cent from gamers. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes DLC is awesome and some developers pour their heart and soul into making awesome new map packs, weapons and even story additions. Too often however, DLC seems like nothing more than a cash grab.

DLC isn’t worth it

If you take the price of a full game and then try to work out (theoretically, of course) what a single map is worth I doubt you’d come up with $5. That seems to be about standard in this new age of “season passes”.

Very few times have I purchased DLC and thought “That was worth it”. In fact, I still think the best DLC I ever got was for Halo 2… Back in 2005. The maps went for about $2.50 each and later became free. They were also released at a time when the game still had 2 years of competitive play left meaning you had plenty of time to try out the new maps and since they became free about a month later there was a healthy pool of players to play with.

That’s not so much the case any more. Allow me to demonstrate:

cod-dlc

The above time line shows the DLC released since the launch of CoD: BO2 until CoD: Ghosts. It also shows how much (or rather, how little) time you have to play each DLC instalment until it’s made obsolete by the sequel.

  • Call of Duty Black Ops II was released on November 12th 2012
  • The first map pack was released on January 29th 2013 (PC/PS3 Feb 28th)
  • The second map pack was released on 12th March 2013 (PS/PS3 April 12th)
  • The third map pack was released on 2nd July 2013 (PC/PS3 May 16th)
  • The fourth and final map pack was released on the 27th August 2013 (PC/PS3 September 26th)
  • Call of Duty Ghosts was released on November 5th 2013

The above graph was based on the Xbox release dates which got all the DLC map packs approximately 1 month earlier than PC/PS3. The final map pack came out in September for PC/PS3 players giving these players not even 2 full months to play the last release of maps before the sequel was released.

I’m sure we can all agree that once a games sequel comes out the previous games become obsolete pretty quickly. Who the hell is paying $20 for a DLC pack you only get to play for 2 months? I’d like to sell you my acreage on the moon…

Season Passes are bullshit

I’ll just let this screenshot speak for itself…

cod-season-pass-price

Game – $90. Season pass – $70. Apparently a few map packs cost almost as much to develop as the entire game which consisted of programming, cut-scenes, motion capture, voice acting, etc.

A season pass is designed to take money from you sooner. It’s also a blind purchase you make without a chance to review what you’re actually paying for. Read this paragraph again a few times in your head let it sink in. Do you really want to blindly spend your heard earned money on content that may or may not be worth it? Why?

Are the developers going to release single player content or multiplayer content? Is it actually going to be good? Will they even deliver the content or will the studio shut down due to financial difficulties? If you want to gamble you should buy a lotto ticket, at least that way if you get lucky you’re a millionaire.

I know I’ve ranted a lot about Call of Duty so far, but that’s only because they make it so damn easy. If someone had told me this would be the future of gaming there’s no way I would have believed it.

Why not take the $70, invest it and wait for the map packs to come out individually? You can earn interest on the money in the bank instead of making already wealthy people richer and if the map packs suck you can just save your money.

cod-season-pass

* Not actually a great price. Actually a really shitty price. Sorry.

Oh, I suppose if you order it early you’re getting a special price, right?

cod-dlc-list

$5 for a map that was cut and paste from a previous game. Seems legit.

Nope. You still pay $70 regardless of whether you get the season pass or not. The only difference is an “exclusive in-game calling card” – AKA, something you won’t miss and the Nuketown Map which is only an extra $5, probably less than the amount of interest you could earn putting the money aside until you actually want to spend it.

This is seriously their idea of a good deal?

DLC divides communities

You haven’t truly experienced how frustrating DLC can be until you’re tried organising a tournament, especially a LAN tournament. Are you going to include the new DLC maps in your tournaments map rotation? Is it going to be a pain in the ass to load up the maps on every single tournament at a LAN tournament? (Spoiler: YES)

Plenty of game communities are already divided based upon which platform they’re playing on and on top of that we’re further dividing each community based on which players are willing to fork out for the latest DLC content.

Want to know another absurd fact? We’re actually punishing the players that choose to buy the content.

Oh don't worry, it's not just Call of Duty. Battlefield 3 makes it incredibly easy to just NOPE out of the menu screen and go play Counter Strike.

It’s not just Call of Duty. Battlefield 3 makes it incredibly easy to just NOPE out of the menu screen and go play Counter Strike. 5 expansion packs plus the base game makes playing with a group of friends incredibly hard unless you all happen to enjoy throwing money at EA.

Want to play with your best mate who can’t afford the content? Sorry, but you’ll both just have to play the original maps. Get matched up against a bunch of people that don’t have the new maps? Sorry, you’ll have to play the original maps…

If you’re playing a 16 player game it only takes a single person in that group to rule out all DLC maps, even though 15 people have paid for them. Does that sound fair to you? You pay for DLC maps and then you barely even get to play them unless you enter a match making list that only uses the new maps which may not even be using your preferred game types, etc.

Enjoy the new DLC – As long as everyone else you want to play with decides to buy it too!

What are your thoughts? Have you made any regrettable DLC purchases? On the flip side of the coin, have you bought any DLC you loved and would recommend to your mates? Let me know in the comments!