Is Paid DLC Good or Bad for the Gaming Industry?

Rob Williams

Staff member
Over the past week, there have been two DLC-related (downloadable content) stories that have caught my eye, mostly because of the ill effects it seems to be inflicting upon today's gaming. Years ago, if you wanted a new map for your favorite game, you could go online and download one, either from the developer or from other fans of the games. Today, there's almost no such thing; without money being involved, at least.


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Senior Editor
Staff member
Soul Calibur IV, DLC clothing packs... Male clothing, £2.49 per set. The female clothing sets, £3.29 each.... biased at all?

When DLC value exceeds more than the cost of the original game, and provides mere distractions, then yes, things have gone too far. In fairness, it is very easy to understand why it's done.

The single purchase model of games is a very bad system for making money, people make a single purchase, end of revenue. After the first 2 months of sales on a game, the income just dries up as a game leaves people's memory and drops down the chart list. Subscription models tend to alienate a lot of people, but can provide a very good income stream.

Episodic content quite often fails due to poor planning and budgeting, they never plan a 3 episode release as a single project, so they burn up all their funding setting up the engine and environments for the first episode and never get the chance to continue. One of the big reasons for episodic is to pull in some cash early to help cover some of the costs in setting up, but when they get a poor return on the first release, they pull out, even though most of the heavy work was already done. (sponsors too concerned with short term rather than long term....). Plan 3 episodes in 3 years, with the first to be released in 18-24 months, you may generate a lot more revenue than a single purchase of a 3 year game. But because they separate it into 3 individually budgeted projects, it gets canned at stage one...

Micro-payments can also work when done correctly, as with DLC, but for a lot of people, these packs don't add anything extra, and with a lot of PC games which encourage modding, you can always get someone's mod for free.


Personally I think DLC should be free, mostly cause I'm stingy. :D

But, like you mentioned, Valve offers free DLC and that works out extremely well for them. Namely TF2, since that receives plenty of updates. I think that's the perfect plan for the developers and consumers. When you, as a consumer, consider buying a game, knowing that the game will undoubtedly get bigger and contain more content will obviously influence you in a positive way to buy the game. Once you buy the game and realize how great it is, you'll tell your friends to play with you, leading to even more consumers.

But by selling a game, and later releasing content that the players have to pay for, I don't think that's a good business model. Like the L4D series for me. I pre-ordered L4D2 because I knew that Valve would update the game for sure (and because it was 30% cheaper), and I'd probably wouldn't have to pay for it just like L4D1. But, if they said that I'd get these 5 (or however many campaigns there are) maps now, and then I'd have to pay $5 for every additional campaign, I really think I wouldn't have gotten the game.

Another example: Borderlands. I got that game during Steam's sale for I think $23 and I also bought the first DLC for $5. Now they're releasing their 3rd DLC. That's $15 in DLC's. 2 more DLC's and I'm paying more than what I paid for the game. That's retarded IMO.

The only reason I think paid DLC is popular right now because it's pretty new and everyone's doing it. But once these series of games start to die down and the next gen/sequels come out, people will start thinking about all the DLC's they bought. I think they released 2 DLC's for Assassin's Creed 2 right? Maybe they'll release even more. But when AC3 comes out, will people be that interested in getting it knowing that they'll have to shell out an additional $10 at least over the initial $60 to get the full gaming experience?

Sure, these guys are raking in the money now. But when they have to compete against another comp that doesn't charge for DLC and produces games of the same caliber and genres, then they'll start regretting their policies.