I love the internet. Back when I was a kid I could only imagine a place where I could go to find out everything about anything in minutes. I could only imagine a place where people could gather in droves to give their opinions on games, movies, or new tech. Forums, message boards, comments sections, Facebook, and others provide people a new voice that never existed before.
I hate the internet. I can't have a decent screaming argument about who's right and wrong anymore when one person can pull up their smartphone and prove the other wrong in seconds. I hate listening to other people whining about every little thing that fucking bothers them to people who don't give a rat's ass. Forums are full of politicians, message boards are dead, comments sections are glorified troll dens, Facebook friends judge everything you say and do, and I'm just sick of it all.
Now that I've established some of my issues with the internet, let's talk about something specific that's been bothering me as of late: people bitching about DLC (downloadable content) for video games. I'm amazed at the number of people who come out and say crap like "that should have been included on the disc" or "you should never have to pay for DLC." These people obviously don't know a goddamn thing about either game design or marketing, so let's go through some of the reasons why DLC is good, and how long it's actually been around.
Let's start with history: DLC has existed for decades as what we "old-school" PC gamers used to call "expansion packs." Back in the 90's, games would have expansions released for them that would add new campaign levels, new multiplayer maps, and other features. The fun thing about these packs is they could cost as much as a retail game. Diablo II Lord of Destruction cost $30 when it came out, and it added 2 new classes, 1 new act (which added about 5-6 hours to the game) and added new items. To compare, DLC packs for Fallout 3 cost around $15 a piece and each added new items, new areas, and between 4-6 hours to finish.
That's the one thing to keep in mind, people didn't complain when The Sims (the first one) released new expansion packs every three weeks for $10-$20, because it just made the game bigger, and you didn't have to buy them. It wasn't until The Sims 2 did the same thing that everyone and their mother started complaining bout how much additional content there was. The stupid thing about this complaint? These are the same people that complain when a company releases a $60 game that only had 8-12 hours of gameplay and then never expands it. Fuck off.
So, let's talk about price, then. People love to say that DLC should have either been included, or been provided at no cost because people already bought the game. First, game development costs money. Not just for the equipment and technology needed to actually design the game, but for the people who work on the game. Their time should be compensated for, don't you think? Would you want to spend 8 weeks working on a something for a client, only to have the client say it isn't worth anything?
Also, keep that 8 weeks in mind. Games have to be pretty much finished about a month before their release date, because you have to manufacture the product, then send it out to stores. So let's just say that after that month deadline goes by, they get back into the studio and create six new characters for your fighting game, then decide to release them as day one DLC for $20. You are not obligated to buy this, first of all, and no, it wouldn't have been done in time to get it on the disc, nor should it be free since they worked on it outside of the boundaries of the budget they had for development.
Let's now talk about console gaming, because that's really what the issue is. Console gamers never had to deal with expansion packs (or even game-correcting patches) before, so this is all new to them. Those are the people who are the most vocal about everything. Back in the "good old days" of the Nintendo and Super Nintendo, no matter how good your game was, you were never going to get more of it, unless they made a sequel. Then, that sequel would cost retail price (as it should.)
There was at least one exception to that rule I can recall. During the days of the Sega Genesis, they released an expansion pack-esque game, called Sonic & Knuckles. The selling point was that you buy Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles together in order to get the full game experience. Additionally, Sonic & Knuckles would allow you to play Sonic 2 as Knuckles. This is really the only example I can think of during the cartridge console era that this was done. And you know what? People loved it. It sold very well and it was praised as a hugely innovative idea. Huh. Interesting, isn't it?
Now, I'm not going to claim that DLC is perfect. There are several instances where it's overpriced, for example. I don't like the idea of paying $15 for an extra level in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed that takes 1-2 hours on Hard mode to beat. Many people use Call of Duty map packs as an example of this. However, think about game time. If you end up spending a total of 20 hours playing those new maps (which if you are an avid player, you will), then aren't you getting your money's worth out of them?
So, what's the conclusion here? DLC allows game developers to expand their products without having to create a new sequel to a game. Gamers love to say that developers intentionally shorten games to release content as DLC, and that may be true, but they used to do it back in the day as well, knowing that they could just include the content in the sequel and you'll eat it up. So don't complain about it, because the alternative is even worse.