Let me start this by saying I am doing zero research here. Well I never really look things up to be honest. Just I am going to speak as if what I am saying is fact but it’s closer to truthiness.
I am also not talking about expansion packs. Those are different and beautiful things. Ones almost forgotten to time now. It used to be for PC games that you could get a second title cheaper because it ran on the same engine as the game before it. Since video game consoles used carts and disks at the time and saved either to the cart or to a memory card this was not particularly doable on home systems. PCs though installed to the hard drive so adding in new assets was easy. You buy Warcraft 3 and then in a few months you could get as much content for half the price with Frozen Throne.
Warcraft 3 follows the story of humans, orcs, and zombies and a massive misunderstanding that leads to an almost world ending war. Frozen Throne picks up after that as a human prince has to overcome all odds to find and slay the zombie leaders pulling the strings with a few unexpected twists along the way.
It literally just adds the new game to your old game and you can select it from the menu. This was common all over the place in older PC titles. Some games still do this mind you. Most notability, as in the one I remember doing this lately, is Civilization 6. Though Civ 6 also has a crap load of DLC for it so you would be forgiven for not noticing. That and I think the Incoming Storm expansion was rather lite on features. So what is the big deal I hear a lot of you bemoaning. DLC when used correctly isn’t a bad thing. I can accept that. Also I understand multiple smaller DLC packs could make an expansion pack of sorts for roughly the same cost. That said it lacks depth. It isn’t a cohesive additional set of content that would fully expand the scope and story of a game. It tends to be just a few new game modes or like farming additions perhaps even a new dungeon or two. That’s it.
Fittingly enough I am talking about Skyrim there as Elderscrolls started the biggest trend in DLC to date. April 4th 2006 Elderscrolls IV Oblivion sold the first micro transaction I can think of, the horse armor. It cost $2.50 and looked terrible.
At the time the larger landscape of gamers and game journalists were just confused as to what to even feel about this. It was pointless and expensive and even lead to the term “horse armor” being used to describe pointless and expensive add ons for games. Just at the time we felt like it was nothing to be concerned about. That is until Capcom decided to step in and make everything way worse. A Capcom staple nowadays.
That was them justifying on disc content costing extra. They put the extra characters and everything on the disk that you bought and said tobad you can’t use them unless you paid like $5 a pop. Not just once mind you, a few times. Which yes, DLC is a separate part of development and is given it’s own budget and time schedule so I do see their side of things. That said, if it’s already done, I don’t care about having to download it. Yes you are technically saving me hard drive space, but at the same time it’s a real dick move. Like yes technically tapping small holes and draining all the eggs in someone’s fridge would stop them from bad cholesterol. Just that’s the wrong way to help somebody. Also does it need to be DLC? The whole point was to extend the life and value of games. If it’s done already you are not doing that. We are basically reaching games as a service level of things. A set up that is fine in games designed for it. Mobile games and MMOs can do rather well slowly rolling out content that is already done in exchange for micro transactions or a monthly subscription model. Where this is problematic is in competitive games like Smash Brothers or Street Fighter as they keep tossing in new characters you need to buy to use, you need to buy to train against, but you have no choice but to be pitted against them if you are playing online.
It’s not 1 to 1 pay to win but it’s definitely closer than I’d like in that regard. When DLC used to be just a few extra pieces it was not that bad. Then the cosmetics came and that showed how much money could be made from DLC in a successful franchise. So more and more content got shoved behind that wall. Hell even Kingdom Hearts 3 that took over a damn decade to come out locked a good amount of plot relevant story behind DLC. Anymore games cost $60 plus however much else they can squeeze from you. Gone are the days of feeling like I got a finished and polished product. Because even once I have the disk in hand I still have more to buy. This removes my feeling of satisfaction. I now don’t even really register when I finish a game because honestly it’s only finished for now. So how did it get this way?
Exactly, sports fans are to blame. Sports games and major First Person Shooters just flooded things with loot boxes and micro transactions to the point where if the DLC is even modestly better we think it’s a good deal. We weren’t worn down to accepting it, rather they lowered our expectations so low we actually enjoy our horse armor because it could be so much worse. This coupled with patches and updates has ruined physical media for me. Further inching me towards playing games like a service. So the biggest question is can thing get better? Sure they can. Rather easily. I vote with my wallet and as much as I’d love certain bits of DLC I skip ’em. I don’t pay money on practices I disagree with. Do I honestly think it matters though?
So the only other option is to stop living in the past. Accept what games are now and enjoy them. Stay true to what you are comfortable with spending money on and don’t just buy DLC because it’s there. We can’t change things to magically make DLC go away. What is an option is to shift what types and how much are available. So rather than ranging about it anytime it comes up just explain the types you buy. Perhaps go into what is reasonable or what you expect. You will just lessen your enjoyment of things punching at the air everytime you talk about games. Not to mention if you pull that shit around me I promise I’ll make you annoyed before I slip away to buy some DLC out of spite. Times are-a changin’.