The Great Gaming Scam: Downloadable Content

The list of offences

Well I had a few ideas for my first article that I wanted to share with all you non-existent followers. But instead of writing it up, I began to play Left4dead 2 and Call of Duty Black Ops, two good games I had become hooked on. Now these are decent games for the Xbox 360, both having a blockbuster feel to them, good game-play even enjoyable online multiplayer aspects… ok that is enough about the positives, these god damn games have priced downloadable content, what the Christ is this?.

I started playing games when I was seven and each game I bought or played, was a fully playable game that has all its content available to the player. This player more than likely paid  60 quid/bucks/Euros to play the title, hoping it was a good game which included loads of content.
So after years upon years of spending money on games and resisting the urge to outright pirate many of them, I feel that I deserve some respect as a paying customer who helped many of these companies be where they are today.
In turn I should benefit from how games as a medium develop, which is the same to all readers and gamers out there who have been paying for and playing games.
Unfortunately it is my utmost displeasure to load up a game and find out that I have to pay for its extra content. This content could be an extra weapon, a player skin or new map, which is not readily available for use by the player unless he purchases it online.
Of the several types of downloadable content that exists, it is the extra map/mission packs I dislike the most.
The Mass effect series, Left4dead series, Halo series and the now notorious Call of Duty series are just some of the offenders.
Now I am aware it can be argued that I do not have to purchase said downloadable content, that I can just play the game and still gain the full experience.
Well I call foul on that right here, as something smells a bit suspect about this whole topic.
Case in point is the Mass Effect series.
A major feature of the Mass Effect games is that, players who have finished previous games in the series to import their character details and actions into the sequels, which in turn directly influences the story.
Aside from the central story line missions,  you can also purchase additional missions to expand on existing game play.
This new content in ME allows the player  to unlock several new characters and story arcs, which resolve old plot points that the main title did not cover.
 So (getting a wiff of cow pooh yet?) if you do not buy the extra content in ME, the core game play and story line in future ME games is affected. This also means that if you did not pay for the extra content, you will not get the full ME gaming experience.
In affect, the developers of the Mass effect series are purposely excluding content from their games, content which directly affects core gameplay, so as to sell it later on as “extra bonus” downloadable content.
We also see examples of this with Map pack for games such as  Call of Duty: Black Ops (here by named CODBLOPS) and the Halo series.  Again this is content which could have easily been included in the finished title, but has been made into downloadable content instead.
Please do not misunderstand me, I do like multiplayer games and I appreciate the chance of expanding my gaming experience with new content. However, I do disagree with to paying up to $10 for a map pack which only has 3 maps (looking at you Halo reach) and was more then likly cut content from the full game itself.
Call me old fashioned, but I preferred my PC gaming days where new maps and custom content was free.
That being said, not all aspects of gaming which suffer from this problem and in fact PC gamers seem to not suffer from this growing downloadable content trend.
Aside from the traditional benefits to gaming on the PC, it would seem that downloadable content for popular games is actually offered for free!
Case in point, expansion missions for Valve’s Left4dead series are offered to the player free of charge.
It also must be said though that traditional PC orientated games companies like Valve have a good track record of trying to keep the gaming community happy.
Valve even claim   that they are forced to charge for Left4dead download content by Xbox 360 creator Microsoft (booo, for shame) and would offer it for free otherwise.
So whats my point?
Well I know many gamers out there do not view downloadable content as a bad thing. I also know there are many good arguments to saying that games offering downloadable content still have enough in-game content to make buying expansions/map packs unessecessary.
Still, as a old school  gamer I feel that if I pay 60+ quid for a quality game, it should have all the content the developer can possibly put in it and I should not be asked to pay more.
I worry about younger and newer gamers who did not grow up in a age where games were stuffed to the brim with content. A time where expansion packages provided more than the bare minimum and maps could be made by anyone and where quality of content was judged by how much content it had.
How could they realise that paying for downloadable content might be a bad thing? That it might only encourage a games publisher to be greedy/lazy and start charging for content which should of been in the game originally?
How could they know what it was like before?
Easy! Just tell them this:
It was better before, don’t fall for this crap and don’t pay for downloadable content after paying $6o as good games tend to include it for free !!


Filed under Games

2 responses to “The Great Gaming Scam: Downloadable Content

  1. Totally agree (well except I hate multiplayer)

  2. I don’t entirely agree. DLC is effectively the modern online era’s version of the generally accepted expansion packs. Additional maps, modes, items and so forth are typically worked on once the game goes gold for retail. Naturally studios can’t be paying their staff to sit around so if there’s nothing else in the pipeline, working on additional content makes sense. If developers are putting time and of course money into making the content, I think its entirely fair to charge for it. Providing it isn’t something that came in the box and you don’t *need* it to play the out of the box content, then as far as I’m concerned thats okay.

    However the question we need to ask is whether what you’re getting is value? Paying a tenner for a couple of sub par maps, hell no. Paying a tenner for an extra 10 hours of a game that I loved, hell yeah! With CoD, the consumer needs to say “no, thats a rip off” and not purchase the over priced DLC instead of saying “thats a rip off” then buying it anyway! So long as Activision are making a fortune from it, they won’t stop.

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