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Three examples of how NOT to do DLC

Submitted by on Thursday, 4 February 201011 Comments

Whether we like it or not, downloadable content is now a major part of the videogame industry, and it won’t be going away any time soon. Of course, PC games have had add-ons and expansions for years, but it’s only in the current generation that developers have seriously been able to bring DLC to consoles.

I’m normally completely in favour of some extra content for my favourite games, even if I have to pay for it, but occasionally I can’t help but feel slightly conned after I’ve made a purchase. Three examples would be the games listed below; I’m a big fan of all of them, but regrettably they are all also examples of how NOT to do DLC.

Nowadays, the fact is that games cost so much to make, DLC is quite often needed to bring in some extra revenue at (usually) very little cost to the developer, and in this way it can even make the difference between a profit and a loss. It’s just a shame that many developers inevitably take advantage of this.

Resident Evil 5

Let’s start with arguably the biggest faux pas any developer can make when it comes to DLC: locked on-disc content. After all, why should gamers have to pay extra for something which is already on the disc? The simple answer to this is that they shouldn’t have to, but that didn’t stop Capcom releasing Versus Mode for Resident Evil 5, just a month after the game’s release last March.

Even worse was that they released a PR statement about this DLC before the game came out, which further annoyed the buying public who felt that it should have been there in the first place. If only they had left it a month or two before telling us, nobody would have cared that much.

I should point out here that Capcom have expressly denied that the add-on is only an unlock key, but as the entire download is a mere 351 KB, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that it probably is. However, even if the content isn’t on the disc, it still doesn’t explain why Capcom are charging £3.99 to play online multiplayer, which is already included for free on almost every other major game release this generation.

The upcoming Lost in Nightmares - let's hope this isn't an unlock key too, eh?

Burnout Paradise

It’s no secret that Criterion have done an outstanding job with supporting Burnout Paradise after it released over two years ago (has it really been that long?!), so I almost feel guilty about putting it here. However, no matter how much free content they gave away, it still doesn’t excuse the frankly extortionate prices of some of the later premium content.

Obviously Criterion and EA couldn’t keep dishing out free DLC forever, but to me £7.99 for a single online mode is just ridiculous, and I don’t see how anyone could argue anything different. The numerous extra vehicles are similarly over-priced, with the worst deal probably being £9.99 for nine toy cars. The awesome Big Surf Island did go some way to make up for these price issues, but unfortunately, by then the damage had already been done.

It’s ironic this mode is called Cops and Robbers, because its price is daylight robbery

Assassin’s Creed II

If you ask me, Assassin’s Creed II was one of the best games of 2009, but even that isn’t enough to stop it appearing on this list. After all, since when is it okay for developers to intentionally miss out sections of the main story on the disc, so that they can be released as DLC later? According to Ubisoft Montreal, it’s been okay since November 17th 2009, as the game shipped without Sequences 12 or 13, so the story jumps straight from Sequence 11 to 14.

Ubisoft have said that this is because they ran out of time, and that they thought there was enough content on-disc to keep users happy. In this respect I have to agree, but that still doesn’t explain why the developers released a game which was essentially unfinished. Remember, these add-on packs aren’t side missions, but rather parts of the game’s main story, so if you want to experience the entirety of Ezio’s tale then you have no choice but to shell out on this DLC.

Battle of Forli: New Missions - 6, New Ideas - 0

Again, these are all fantastic games and I’m not taking anything away from the years of love and work that have clearly gone into making them. However, in my opinion making a great game is not a sufficient enough excuse to treat fans unfairly, and cheat them into spending more money so they can have the ‘complete experience’ of a game.

If DLC adds a new dimension to a game then I’m all for it, but if developers are blatantly ripping off the consumer or charge for something which should have been in the original game, then my outlook is not so positive. Let’s hope that in the future developers can learn from their own and others’ mistakes and bring us truly innovative DLC at a reasonable price.