Hear me out, Downloadable Content has its place in modern gaming. Many developers have been able to give gamers more worthwhile content that simply couldn't be included in the original package. Other companies give free expansions and updates, if only to please their fans. But closer inspection reveals DLC to be nothing but the newest marketing tool to keep people spending their hard-earned dollars on mostly useless content.
What prompted me to don this way of thought was L.A. Noire. I haven't bought the game, not because of it's lack of action or excessive amount of talking; but the downloadable content. Customers who bought the game or preorded it were 'rewarded' with additional missions. Soon after, Rockstar announced their “Rockstar Pass” which will give gamers every single expansion over time for a lower price. Sure, for huge-fans of the game this is a blessing: “I'd buy it anyway, why spend more?”
NetherRealm Studios copied this business strategy, and released the Mortal Kombat Season Pass; offering four characters for the price of three. Granted, we don't know who this final character is- perhaps it is someone you'd never dream of paying for? Either way, the new tactic is obvious: get your money as fast as possible, and prevent the customer from selling or trading the game.
Now I'm typically not a conspiracy theorist, and I rarely get up in arms when most companies overprice content. They are a business after all, and we can't blame anyone for turning a profit. But DLC is continuing to head down a nasty path. My biggest problems with DLC are the scare tactics companies use to sell it, and games being repackaged, DLC included for future buyers. Whether it be the nearest GameStop offering a preorder incentive, or Electronic Arts launching with Collector's Editions for early buyers; I'm sick of feeling like I'm missing out. Most gamers do not have the money to buy games brand new, but if we don't there is a ticking clock with the word “exclusive” written all over it.
Dragon Age II is probably the best example of this, with the Signature Edition offering a somewhat large DLC as the primary incentive to buy early. Granted, an “Ultimate Edition” bundle is likely going to be released next year. For those that buy games new, as well as any DLC or add-ons he/she can expect to spend upwards of one hundred dollars for highly-supported titles. But the smart buyer, who looks past these supposed “savings” will wait for either digital sales or bundle deals. This is the exact reason I've yet to buy L.A. Noire, Dragon Age II or Fallout: New Vegas.
It goes either way: you can prolong your experience with a game, or you can spend more money than necessary. Obviously if cash isn't a problem, purchase games and DLC to your heart's content. Who am I to say what money is worth to you. But for the majority of us with limited income, there is simply no need to fall prey to “free” DLC and shiny metal cases.
Activision is also doing a wonderful job of gouging gamers. Call of Duty Map Packs are constantly being purchased at the hefty price-tag of fifteen dollars. Black Ops for instance will be getting it's third Map Pack, totaling a whopping $45 in DLC alone. Combined with the $60 that most gamers spent on the original game by itself, and let's not forget the upcoming monthly fee for Call of Duty: Elite. Granted, you can always play Call of Duty without all the map packs; unless your friends play on these new maps, or you've completed the single player. Worst case scenario the game goes the route of Halo and you're physically (digitally?) required to own the maps to participate in the majority of gametypes.
DLC is a double-edged sword that in most instances shouldn't even cost money. When compared to the level of free content in PC gaming, console DLC is a joke. Massively Multiplayer Online games get truckloads of free extra content, despite the monthly fee and original cost of the game. Then again, how is that any different than paying for Xbox Live or Playstation Plus? At the end of the day, DLC wouldn't be such a joke if it cost less.