Remember when a developer would release a game? Then just as gamers were beginning to grow tired of it, the developer would release some Brand Spankin’ New Add-On Content to blow the fans’ minds once more? That feeling of surprise gamers used to get has turned into a feeling of expectation with modern gamers, and with that, developers are releasing more information about DLC earlier than ever. How early? For many major game releases, developers are beginning to announce guaranteed downloadable content in the months following the games release. Often times the developers will even announce a disc-based “Special Edition” that will be released once all DLC is available. While consumers should not be outraged, they should certainly be grumbling a bit. With developers releasing games initially for $60, consumers should feel ripped off by the fact that not only will there be a more complete version of the game released at a later date, but it will also be about $20 cheaper, and they are telling you this before or shortly after the release of the game.
While developers such as Volition (Saint Row: The Third) and EA Sports have tried to use season passes, which allow gamers to pay one set price and receive all future DLC upon release, the consumer must make a commitment to hard drive space and the undisclosed content, for better or for worse. Given that most times the consumers do not have specifics on what the DLC will be until shortly before the content is released, and the consumer is still paying an extra $5-15 per downloaded content, why would buying the new copy be an option for most consumers?
Let’s admit, when Mass Effect 3 came out, no matter how bad people accused the endings of being, nobody wanted to have the ending spoiled for them. Not getting a game upon its initial release also means that you are probably going to be behind the times and will miss all the initial hype and conversation. As ridiculous as it may sound, that is reason enough to pay the extra money.
While consumers should be disgruntled by the fact that developers are beginning to announce added content before the full game even has a chance to ship, it should still be understood that there is a price for convenience, and just because DLC is announced does not mean that the developers have completely worked out the details of the content. Sometimes a developer has an idea that they want fans to get excited over as well, and they announce it before it has come to fruition. Heavy Rain is a prime example of announced DLC, but the content had yet to be developed. Quantic Dream announced that they would release a series of add-on episodes for purchase. One episode was released after a delay, and nothing more came of the episodes. It may seem like putting all the content on one disc to begin with is the clear route to take, but DLC is not always just a way for developers to take consumers’ money, it is oftentimes a bonus for the gamers that developers invest a lot time and work into. Consumers are not being ripped off or being taken advantage of, not fully at least, but patience does have its rewards in the form of more content at a cheaper price.