DLC: A poisoned chalice?

I remember fondly two years ago when I bought Final Fantasy XIII. I’d been eagerly awaiting this game for months and once it was

A Lightning storm is brewing

A Lightning storm is brewing

here I shunned my social life, abandoned the normal social conventions of things like washing, tidying etc and played the sherbet out of this game!

Once I’d done just that I thought Ooo now lets see what Square-Enix plan to add in Downloadable Content…what’s this?! No DLC? After a quick search online I found an article with a Square Exec saying there’d be no DLC saying that they believe they have put everything they feel that is right for the game into the game, and didn’t want players to have to pay more for add-ons that could be included in the original game. Now I actually think this is quite a noble endeavour, the thought of developers wanting to cram as much as they can into the ame before release pleases me a lot.  Square gained some much needed kudos from me for this stance, BUT as always a couple of years go by and boom there stance changed.

I was as nervous about the sequel FF XIII-2 as anyone else. I still remember the, frankly, shambolic sequel to Final Fantsy X. So when I saw there was going to be a sequel to 13 I naturally thought it’d be a bad idea but I wanted to see if Square had learned from their previous mistakes. I was right and I was wrong, the game it’s self was actually quite good, I know it didn’t do that well in the charts but I liked it, they managed to get a new story line out of the ending of the previous game and it wasn’t half bad. Where it did go wrong was with the DLC. This time there was DLC and LOTS of it! So what’s the problem?? Well in the UK the game was released on the 3rd of February 2012, the first bit of DLC (A weapon set) was released on the 7th of Feb!! FOUR DAYS AFTER! What is the point of this DLC why couldn’t it be included in the game!? Thus it continued until May, when the last bit of DLC was released.

Now most of the DLC was decent actually the expansions to the story line were quite good. My problem was with Square’s stance on DLC. One minute it’s not needed and then they’re virtually spamming us with it.  Another thing is the cost of all this DLC, a new copy of the game cost around £40, the DLC alone cost about the same price! So with the DLC are you getting another full game, no I’m afraid not…

The Sims have it figured out!

The Sims have it figured out!

Now I’ll stop the Final Fantasy bashing as I’m a huge, huge fan and it’s only out of love for the franchise that I say all this as I don’t want to see it fall so far from it’s once golden (saucer..see what I did there!) age.

DLC as whole I feel is a  poisoned chalice. I want to feel that developers haven’t abandoned my game and that they still care about the players and not the money. The Sims is a good example of this. the expansion packs (basically old world DLC) were a great way to keep players engaged in your game, don’t get me wrong paying for each add-on would require a re-mortgage of the family home I’m sure but you didn’t mind as it was up to you, and you didn’t feel like you were missing to much by not buying it.  At the same time though, some developers are leaving content out of game purposely for DLC, and who can blame them? Why give it away in the game when you can charge a couple of quid per person for it?

This it seems is the way of the future, with online multiplayer gaming being the “in” thing right now it’s no surprise that developers and

console makers are trying to squeeze these gun totting, spell wielding guys for some more cash, “hey guys! Are you sick of being sniped

DLC done the Dovahkiin way!

DLC done the Dovahkiin way!

as soon as you spawn? Try this new map! it’s only a fiver”. With hundreds of thousands of gamers online across the world it’s hard not to see the business opportunity. But it is hard to see where the gamer wins… In an age where DLC is inevitable I can only see one real success story from how it works and that’s Elder Scrolls.  Ever since Morrowind the Bethesda guys have basically released two add-ons

and maybe a little one with just some bits and bobs in there.  The Shivering Isles add-on was amazing to say the least! With Skyrim they don’t seem to have let themselves down again either.  The harth fire add on is pretty cool actually and Dawn Guard is just as awesome as the original game.  I’m sure they’ll release a second add-on, probably bigger and probably with some new areas to boot.  This in my opinion is how it should be done.  Let people play the game for a few months, then release some DLC, let them play that then release some more, bigger DLC.  It may still cost about the same as the original game once it’s all added up in the end but if it’s as big and fun as the original game then why not!

So to summarise, DLC when done right is an brilliant way to keep your loyal fans happy. Done badly and it can be very damaging for the franchise as a whole.

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