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I feel like it’s five years ago, but I feel the need to bring up DLC because of stupid stuff I’ve been reading. Normally, stupid comments on Internet forums are nothing I care about. Let’s face it: for any given community in any medium, there’s going to be some percentage of individuals who forsake logic, reason, and their own self interest to indulge in faux outrage over perceived injustices that are, in fact, nothing of the sort. But after reading through comments in various game communities (which shall remain nameless to protect everyone involved), to say nothing of conversations with good friends, I have come to the conclusion that some people just have no idea what they are complaining about.
People who complain about DLC content for PC games are (often) one such group.
Now, before you get riled up, let me explain myself.
Gamer A buys Oblivion and loves every minute of it. Bethesda announces DLC containing horse armor. Gamer A buys it because the gamer loves Oblivion. It turns out to be a crappy DLC. Gamer A then buys some iteration of Modern Warfare and purchases some DLC because friends also have the same content. The new maps suck and Gamer A complains that they should’ve been included in the original game anyway. Gamer A then hears that Totally Awesome Game, released by Really Cool Studios, is going to use a DLC model for new content rather than expansions or sequels. Gamer A then throws a tantrum and promises to never buy any content from Really Cool Studios again.
Now, can anyone see the problem here? And before someone points it out, the deliberately biased rhetoric towards Gamer A and the “tantrum” was intended to grab your attention.
The sticking point here isn’t that DLC is somehow a problem. In each of these cases, it comes down to something so fundamental that it’s easy to forget. We don’t buy games because they’re useful, or to help us make money, or even because they’re a status symbol. They are entertainment. As such, there’s really only one overall criterion to be used when determining whether game stuff is good or bad. The following fake algebraic formula covers it well:
(C1/C2)/D > 1
C1 is the content provided by a designer, and C2 is the cost of that content. D represents the annoyance of the DRM. If you get enough enjoyment out of what you buy without DRM making you want to kill yourself, then you win. It’s so basic that we use it all the time around here when writing reviews. Games with lower price tags simply don’t have to provide as much content to earn good marks. Why? Because I’m not stupid. I don’t expect a $10 game to give me 80 hours of game time with graphics that make my PC hurt. But if the game costs $80, it had damn well better justify that cost to earn good marks. And if the DRM is problematic, we try to tell you, all the while acknowledging that different people view DRM in their own ways.
See, it doesn’t matter whether a game is a full version, expansion pack, DLC, or contains pink ponies fighting zombies. It only matters whether the content is worth the price and whether the DRM is acceptable. Period. That’s all that matters.
There are some common complaints about DLC that need addressing. Let’s take them up one by one.
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