The current generation of video-game consoles has been fantastic for a multitude of reasons. Top of the line graphics, easily streamlined internet play, free updates to fix bugs and so on. But my favorite feature regardless of console, is downloadable content. Sure, this isn't exactly a brand new idea- the original Xbox had a small selection of map packs and extra goodies, and PC gamers have had this feature for years and years. But in terms of the marketing of downloadable content as “DLC,” this is a relatively new concept.
Since Microsoft was first out of the gates with their Xbox 360, it's fair to say they are the company most spearheading DLC. Some of the original launch titles for the 360 had small expansions and DLC soon after release. In my case the most notable of these were the extras for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Whenever I had Microsoft Points, I would buy the expansions- yes, even the infamous Horse Armor. When Shivering Isles was released, you bet I jumped right on that. Though this final expansion offered something new to me, DLC with Achievements.
After that point in time, I made it a rule to never purchase lackluster expansions if they did not contain new Achievements. Notice this rule says nothing about lackluster expansions with Achievements. To be completely honest, there is something enjoyable about the initial act of purchasing DLC; then something new altogether with actually unlocking those shiny new achievements. I'm not blind, I definitely notice the addictive qualities of this behavior, but I know I'm not the only person.
Extremely recently, a $5 add-on was released for Deadliest Warrior: The Game. It added three new characters, a few new features and three extra Achievements for 50 points. You bet your ass I picked that up day-one. So you might assume I actually enjoyed the original XBLA game, I did complete it after all. Actually, quite the opposite- Deadliest Warrior is one of the worst games I've had the opportunity to review in my life. I hate that game with a passion, it's broken and ugly, not much more to say about that.
This may bring up the question that I am merely addicted to GamerScore. Well that is true as well, I have a score of over 130,000, and I'm an avid Achievement booster. Though that doesn't alter the addictive quality of DLC. Buying DLC for a game I already own is one thing, but it's something else entirely when lousy DLC prompts me to purchase a game I've never had any interest in. Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet is a game that I know I will hate. It's a cheap game marketed towards children. And yet, it has three add-ons with achievements; my interest has been perked.
Probably another fault of mine is buying DLC before it's even relevant to me. Red Dead Redemption is a near perfect game. I haven't beaten the game, hell I haven't even gotten a fourth of the way through. Do I own the Undead Nightmares Collection? Oh but of course! I haven't completed Fable 3 either, but I've been eying The Traitor's Keep expansion up for ages now. This isn't to say that I never even play the DLC I buy, but it's obvious that I buy much more than I'll ever need. Once I man up and complete Dead Space I'll probably bite the bullet and purchase Dead Space 2 as well as the Severed expansion.
I will never blame a company for over marketing a product. The money I've spent on expansions was my own doing, all I'm saying is that DLC is at it's core addictive. Shopping in general is to an extent, but the ease and enjoyment of digital downloads can be a disaster in the wrong hands.