Are Xbox Live, PSN and Wii Gamers Getting Gamed By DLC?

by Lewis Lashley on May 4, 2011 · 13 comments

in Nintendo Wii, PSN, Sony PS3, WiiWare, Xbox 360, Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA)

CAUTION! Manufacturers Schemes Riling Players!

Are we still the players or simply just the played?

Whether you game online via Xbox Live (XBL), Playstation Network (PSN) or even the huge library of original and classic games from Nintendo’s Wii Shop Channel, you’ve been a part of the last decade’s gaming revolution, DLC (downloadable content). We all play games in some way or fashion and we all have our preferred genres. Whether you like the excitement of getting the last frag in an FPS or the thrill of an RPG that feels like an interactive novel. Doesn’t matter if you’re a hardcore or casual gamer we all play games at one point or another. Sadly, that game you really enjoy playing has to come to end sooner or later. Whether it be you lost interest through monotony, finished the story/campaign or just found a new game to hold your attention, all games meet their “demise”. This is where the magic of DLC comes in. DLC breathes life back into those old games by offering new content such as map packs, story add-ons, new characters etc.

Alas, this fairytale seems to be hitting a part of the plot that we don’t all particularly like. Much like inflation, the price for DLC has gone up and the content has seemingly gone down. For example, Call of Duty 3’s Bravo Map Pack sported 5 maps (3 new maps, 2 ported PC maps) for 800msp (Microsoft Points) and the Call of Duty Black Ops’ First Strike Pack had 5 maps (4 multiplayer and 1 zombie map) for 1,200msp. That’s a $10 and $15 respectively. Now granted the First Strike Pack included a game mode map, does it increase the value of the DLC or should it stay the same price? Does the graphical content play a role in the cost or is it just big business putting the squeeze on our pockets as the consumers?

In my Marvel vs. Capcom 3 review, I expressed how I felt duped by the DLC for two characters that were released as add ons. Now pay attention to the fact I said add “ONS”. When the game was released, special edition buyers were given a code for the two characters that were to be available the following month. The characters were released as separate content that both went for 400msp each. They also released a costume pack which was also 400msp. That raised the grand total for the game, including DLC, to roughly $74.99, not including tax. There are a few games like Naruto: Rise of Ninja, that give the option to preview these characters and download them for trial usage. To purchase or not to purchase, that is the question. Take the risk of paying for content you don’t like or won’t use? Or just go without and risk missing out on a real gem?

This DLC issue also shows itself with game modes. Games are being released with pre-determined schemes on how to stretch the longevity of sales by holding out on game content for later sale. Some may say that if the game was released with all the modes on it, it should cost more from the beginning. Is that really a fair statement? Were games developed that way in the past before DLC? Did Shigeru Miyamoto think to himself, “Eight worlds of Super Mario Bros. should have a price point of…”? If there were instead nine worlds, should the game have been $5 more expensive? Case in point, Fable II and Fable III had DLC, “See The Future” (Fable II, 560msp) and “Understone” (Fable III, 400msp). Pending how fast you played through them, they added an hour or two onto the game with a few added quests, items and maybe a few achievements (See The Future). They were both relatively cheap but still make you wonder if they could’ve been released with the game themselves or were they just a reselling ploy.

This issue could get better or worse in time, who knows. While I understand that several things are taken into account with DLC launches such as game sales, cost of development for content and even content worth; the companies are justified in their own right for these reasons but for us as consumers, are we taken into account. This issue started with games being released “incomplete” with patches or modes released at later dates (Resident Evil 5’s Co-op mode). Although I understand why a patch would come out later in most instances, shouldn’t a game mode that is announced for the game come on disc? Disagreements of value vs. price of DLC have lead buyers to question whether the content is worth it or not. More games now have in-game stores for character add-ons such as hair styles and outfits (Fable III) to character stats boosts (Fight Night Champion) that cost actual money anywhere from 80msp ($1) – 560msp ($7).

In closing, I understand the reasoning why and how some DLC is released. However, it doesn’t get any easier on the pockets of the faithful video game player. I understand why companies are releasing “online passcodes” to unlock online modes and bonus content in-box (Need for Speed Undercover, Fight Night Champion etc.). The developers and publishers are trying to make back what they are losing in resale (used games), piracy and the classic borrowing of games. Unless the games are purchased new, you will have to buy the online modes. However, you have to question, is DLC like Bare Knuckles mode (Fight Night Champion) really fair to be up for purchase? You fight bare knuckle fights in the story mode, should I have to shell out more money so I can play it in multiplayer locally and/or online? There is acceptable and then there is downright ridiculous. Are we being taken for a ride at the expense of our wallets and naivety? You be the judge.

  • Jennyanne218

    Good points…definitely feel like manufacturers are in a sense scamming us on DLC. Feel like it’s almost equivalent to price gouging at gas pumps

  • Jennyanne218

    Good points…definitely feel like manufacturers are in a sense scamming us on DLC. Feel like it’s almost equivalent to price gouging at gas pumps

  • Lewis L.

    My setiments exactly Choreo! However, you have made me more paranoid about how much crazier this may get in the future lol.

  • Coreo881

    Hm…I agree and disagree. When you put it that way, then yeah I suppose pirating isn’t new at all but you have to admit, people have been doing it a whole lot more often these days.

    Putting that aside, I’d still attribute most of this rising production costs. Way back in the day when games could be made by a handful (or just one) of people, production costs were pennies compared to today’s blockbuster monster hits.

    HOWEVER, lol here’s where I agree, corporations are still corporations. If they see a chance for growth in revenue then I’ll be damn sure they’ll take it. DLC is just the thing now; give it 10 years and we’ll be buying a game that lets us buy the game so we can game while we game.

  • Anonymous

    Black Ops: Escalation is awesome so far! A few minutes ago I came across a blog that’s giving out the Escalation DLC for free! I thought it was a scam until I saw the DLC code laying in my e-mail inbox. :D

    I’m not sure if there’s any codes left, but if you want to give it a shot, here’s the site:

    http://freeblackopsdlc.blogspot.com

  • Lewis L.

    Excellently put! We have to do more homework on DLC much like we do for actual games. Maybe more companies will release “demos” for DLC in the future if we demand it enough.

  • Dueceswild

    Fortunately, the onus is on the gamer to decide the value of DLC. It’s becomes a binary decision – Yes, it’s at a price I’m willing to pay or No, I’d rather keep my money. We make that same decision to purchase the actual game at the universal price of $60 MSRP, before tax. In fact, just like anything entertainment, there are universal price points that people are comfortable paying at (movies, ball games, DVDs).

    However, we make the decision to ‘walk’ based on our interest. Unfortunately, advertising and marketing muddy this decision, when companies sell their product as more than it is. An informed consumer will, however, do their homework and get opinions from unbiased third parties that they trust.

  • Lewis L.

    This definitely is a good doorway for Indie games to break in to the mainstream. And I agree, it is a vicious circle that doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon

  • Lewis L.

    This definitely is a good doorway for Indie games to break in to the mainstream. And I agree, it is a vicious circle that doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon

  • Coreo881

    Games cost more to make guys. Millions of dollars. They aren’t TRYING to fuck us, its that they don’t really have a choice.

    Pirates + rising production costs fuck companies, companies lose money and fuck us, we get pissed and become pirates. Everyone is getting fucked and that’s why indie games can make a killing in today’s market.

  • Lewis L.

    I agree with you fully on the grounds of the companies are simply just trying to make money. The argument on making up revenue “lost” through buying game modes for games that aren’t purchased new is just a testament to that. They aren’t going broke through used game sales but it is a chunk of money they would much rather have in their pockets. However, it does make it difficult to have these movements happen (boycotting DLC) when there are so many fanatics that will buy them anyway AND when some DLC don’t even have any real preview. It’s just as you said, clearly just another outlet to make more money.

  • Clint

    I don’t buy the argument that they are trying to somehow make up revenue from borrowing/stealing/reselling, specifically. None of those are new phenonmena. DLC on the other hand IS new (on consoles at least). These corporations are in the business to make money, they don’t do this because they are our friends who also love gaming. The price will drop when people stop buying the DLC, period. That’s why I have refused to buy First Strike. If a few more million COD fans would do the same maybe the price would come down. (BTW I actually don’t feel like we are getting hosed anymore than you get hosed for purchasing a Lamborghini – if you voluntarily overpay for a marginally useless product then you’ve just played yourself).

  • Clint

    I don’t buy the argument that they are trying to somehow make up revenue from borrowing/stealing/reselling, specifically. None of those are new phenonmena. DLC on the other hand IS new (on consoles at least). These corporations are in the business to make money, they don’t do this because they are our friends who also love gaming. The price will drop when people stop buying the DLC, period. That’s why I have refused to buy First Strike. If a few more million COD fans would do the same maybe the price would come down. (BTW I actually don’t feel like we are getting hosed anymore than you get hosed for purchasing a Lamborghini – if you voluntarily overpay for a marginally useless product then you’ve just played yourself).

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