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DLC – how long is it relevant?

Submitted by on Wednesday, 26 November 20086 Comments

Downloadable Content (DLC) is a salient feature of this generation of gaming; a concept we rarely had to deal with in the past and are still finding our footing with now.

The process before the next-next-generation was quite simple: You bought the game, you played the game and (maybe) you traded the game. Now, with developers promising new content along the pipe-line, the prospect of coming back for some more is a significant possibility.

With the added factor that downloadable content can be exclusive to one console/platform, all of a sudden DLC can become the carrot (perhaps even the deciding factor) when it comes to choosing what version of a game multi-console owning consumers will purchase.

It’s no secret that Sony and Microsoft differ in their approaches to DLC. Microsoft sees it as the perfect instrument to pry franchises away from the traditional bastions of Sony (e.g. Tomb Raider) and secure more day-one sales (see: carrot, above) while Sony recognises its virtues but have decided to focus their millions on new IPs rather than paying for timed exclusivity. We’re not going to debate the validity or effectiveness of these two different business decisions as we think there are merits to the respective ethos of both camps. Either way, it now offers a very interesting question.

How long after a game’s original release date, or – if you’re a PS3 only gamer perhaps – after the timed exclusivity on the 360 has lapsed, is DLC still relevant?

When does the prospect of playing a new level, or racing a new course, or killing a new drug dealer become blasé to the extent that you are no longer interested in purchasing this new content; irrespective of how much you liked the original (and now old) game?

Caveat time: We’re basing the following survey on one slightly ambiguous, obviously marketing approved and completely biased statement from Sony Computer Entertainment UK managing director Ray Maguire.

When asked about exclusive 360 content coming to the PS3 by VideoGamer back in October, Ray responded with the following: “One thing to remember, nothing is ever exclusive. Things get wrapped up for a period of time for a large amount of money and if it’s a strategic decision by competition to do that then we have to live with that.”

So, we’re not saying the exclusive 360 GTAIV content is coming to the PS3. We don’t know if those Fallout 3 missions will grace our console of choice. Nor are we claiming some insight into the possibility regarding Tomb Raider DLC; the top-heavy grave-robbing heiress resurrected for another jaunt through some more luscious Underworld ruins on the PS3.

OK? Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way we are proceeding with the assumption that all of the above will some day be PS3 bound. Let’s look at what we’re actually missing though before we start asking questions.


Arguably the most popular of games gracing the 360 with exclusive content, details of what’s to be made available in February have only surfaced recently.

You get to play as a new character (a biker no less) but details are light at the moment regarding number of missions, pricing, time it will take to complete, etc. This is also the first of two exclusive episodes for the 360.

The question is though: considering a full NINE months will have passed since the game’s release and the availability of this new content (with so many stellar games releasing between then up to the release of the DLC) have Microsoft missed the proverbial boat?

You can check the forums out there to find hordes of people repeating variations of the following: “I liked the game but I’ve either traded it or have no intention of going back to it now.” (Or you’ll find the other host of people saying they bought the game and hated it – either way the general consensus is that this is a missed opportunity by Microsoft.) Will it sell buckets? Perhaps. We’ll have to wait and see.  Do PS3 fans still want it though? And in possibly the Fall of 2009?

Fallout 3
Three new packs are scheduled to drop each month starting January 2009. Entitled “Operation: Anchorage”, “The Pitt” and “Broken Steel”, the new content promises to expand the post apocalyptic world of Fallout 3 even more.

The game is out about a month which means not too long to wait before new content is available – probably when you’ve finished it and are thinking of either trading it or confining it to your ever-growing game library. Famitsu have just given the game 38/40 and it’s universally loved. Are PS3 fans pining for some more nuclear ravaged wastelands? Will they wait for the privilege of more radiation sickness?

Tomb Raider: Underworld
The game may be only out but last month Eidos confirmed that two exclusive chapters, “Beneath the Ashes” for this Christmas and “Lara’s Shadow” scheduled to hit in early 2009, are exclusively bound for the 360 after an “approach by Microsoft”.

Unlike GTAIV, this is an example of DLC for a game coming out almost immediately after the initial release. So close, in fact, that it may suggest these chapters should have been included in the actual game itself. Of course, that’s not the debate on here.

With mediocre reviews (and the debacle regarding the “Below 80% review embargo”) has Microsoft bought a turkey here? Probably not. There are legions of TR fans who will lap this content up but the older fan-base has its origins on the PlayStation. Would you still want it if (or when) it’s finally announced?

As we say, very few people know what’s in the contracts that tie the above DLC  to the 360 and for exactly how long (if not forever). But we’re asking you, our dear PS3 Attitude readers: which one do you want the most? And, how long would you wait for it ? When does DLC become irrelevant?

We’ll post up the results this time next week. Get clicking.