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1). They should’ve put it in the original game OR they took it out of the original game to sell it as DLC.
While I’ve only beta tested a few games in my life, I can say that in each case, they were more or less feature-complete by the time we got to playtest them. They have to be. You can’t just go and add tons of new features, or remove tons of old features, without setting the beta process behind schedule. In fact, as far as I can tell, removing features breaks games just as readily as adding new ones (bug report filing memories will surely scar me for life). And the few times content was removed (and all the stuff I saw removed was so minor, no one would’ve cared about it), it was deleted because it broke the game’s balance in some crucial way and would take too long to fix or redesign. I can think of no case in which any removed content moved into DLC or expansion packs because the removed content was, without putting too fine a point on it, crap. Had any of it been left in, the games would have sucked. I’ve also seen that smart studios start designing DLC during beta testing using different staff. This means they can have some DLC content right out of the gate without impeding the design of the main game. Just because DLC is released on Day 1 doesn’t mean that the people working on it had anything to do with the creation of the primary game.
However, I’m sure some designer, somewhere, has done this at one time or another. And I’m sure some publisher has said, “Slap the DLC label on it and sell it later.” Even so, we still run up against the “was it worth the money?” equation. Let’s say Evil Games Incorporated did take content out to make a DLC pack to profit from gullible customers. Fine, so they did that. Did the content they released entertain you at a fair value for what you paid? If so, then you still win. If not, then it’s not the DLC that’s the problem. The problem is that Evil Games Incorporated created a piece of garbage. But you don’t need DLC to do that.
I will say this: Ian Davis mentioned recently that some DLC for Microsoft Flight required purchasing other DLC to be useful. This is not a DLC problem so much as shameful marketing and deceitful business practices. I’m glad Ian pointed out the problem, but no one should just irrationally refuse all DLC just because someone was unethical in their business practices. The right answer is to not buy anything from that business and to spread the word.
2). I miss expansion packs that have tons of content. DLC has too little to make it worth buying.
Hey, I miss the good ol’ days sometimes myself. But I’ll be honest with you — there were plenty of expansion packs that were crap, too. And again, we’re back to “is it worth the money?”. If the answer is no, then don’t buy it.
Personally, I think we’re getting past a paradigm that supports big expensive games and big expensive expansion packs anyway. If the industry moves towards making basically everything work like MMOs (even when they aren’t primarily multiplayer), then we’ll end up in a world where we get new content all the time while paying money all the time, rather than making fewer, larger purchases. That’s a whole other discussion, though.
3). I have to buy tons of DLC just to play multiplayer with friends.
Well, that’s the price of admission. But that’s not DLC’s fault. If your friends are playing a crappy game with crappy DLC, then just say no.
4). How do I know if it’s crap before I buy it?
Aha! Now you’re onto something. Guess what? That’s our job here at the Vault. While we don’t get everything related to DLC, even if we don’t review it, get a review from somewhere and check it out before making a purchase. But you should be doing that anyway, whether it’s DLC or not.
Before wrapping up, let me say that it also helps to know what kinds of content you’re actually interested in purchasing. My preference for strategy games means that some DLC for titles I like involves new sprites for combat units, new music, or classy overhauls of the UI. For the most part, I don’t care about any of that. I only purchase content that adds to gameplay mechanics. So I know, before the content even gets a review, that there are some things I’m just not going to buy. You should know yourself enough to do this, as well. It’ll save you time and money.
At the end of the day, no one should be complaining that DLC is bad or good. The only complaint should be whether the content you bought was worth the price. Remember, complaining about DLC just because it’s DLC is pointless. Instead, embrace fake algebra:
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