DLC Redeemed?

Joel Couture
Senior Editor
 
February 6th, 2013

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It looks like Scott Pilgrim Vs The World possibly might be getting some new DLC. Well, maybe. Maybe not? It’s still all very confusing, but the point is that this is the one good thing to have come from DLC since its inception. This is the reason I was cautiously excited at the idea of DLC in the first place; as it means that old games can become new again if the studio cares enough to keep working on them. It means that you could come back to an old favorite and find levels and content you’d never played before. I don’t know about you, but if Mega Man X had a few new stages every few years when I started it up, I’d be pretty excited to hit that power button.

That’s not how DLC has been used, though. It’s been weaponized against us by the very publishers that have always been looking for new ways to fleece us. Instead of creating new content years and years down the road, most DLC exists to wring a few more dollars out of players right when the game releases. I’m sorry, but the last thing I should have to think of on the drive home from the game store is if I’ll have the entire game when I put it in my system. The last two Mass Effects have had levels that were released on the same day as the game was. They claimed that these stages weren’t held off from the game’s initial release and that they made them during the period when the discs were getting pressed, but I don’t know if I buy it. Even if it is true, I still feel ripped off when a game is already asking me for more money before I’ve booted it up for the first time.

The other argument is that interest in DLC wanes over time, so they have to get it out when the game is still hot. Again, when I get home the last thing on my mind is buying more DLC for a game I just got. I just handed someone sixty dollars for the game, so I really don’t feel like spending a dime more on it. I won’t, either, so the only time you’ll actually find me paying for that DLC is if I pick the game up way down the road and want to try something new. Odds are good that when I reach the last boss and watch the credits roll I won’t be thinking of making your game any longer.

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This stuff is why the new DLC for Scott Pilgrim Vs The World seemed like such a bizarre anomaly when I found out it was getting content over two years after its release. People were openly making fun of that fact in the comments on most of the sites I saw the news on, and I found that kind of ridiculous. Even I laughed a bit when I saw it, and then started to shake my head. Here, at last, was a studio that was using DLC to revitalize a game that it had sent out years before. It wasn’t trying to scam money off of me right out of the gates (Although it’s very likely scamming someone. Sigh.), but rather remind me that I had a game I loved just sitting there in my collection. I’ll likely grab the DLC and remind myself why I liked the game so much to begin with, and I might even talk some friends into playing it with me.

This is what DLC is good for, and the only aspect of it that gets me excited. This is reminding me of something I liked and giving me a fantastic reason to explore it again, preferably with a friend. This is a way of making old games new again, of giving new life to old content. It’s even a way for developers and publishers to drum up interest in a product that’s already been completed, letting them use their established library of games to make some more money without it feeling like a cash grab.

I wish I could see more of it. With studios failing left and right, and publishers scrambling to do anything they can to make more money out of their games, I don’t know why more of them aren’t going into the company backlog and looking at what they can do with it. Sure, the gains might not be as great as they could be with a brand new game, but the potential for loss is next to nothing. If all you’re doing is making a few new stages for a game you’ve already completed years ago, what do you really have to lose? The engine is there, the characters and setting are all done up, motion capture is done, music is in place, so why not just make a few new things for those games that are already out there in player’s hands?

This may be the one new practice I’ve seen in game sales that could be a positive force, but few are using it that way. I’ll be buying the Scott Pilgrim VS The World DLC, if only to send a message to its publishers that this is the sort of thing I want to see more of. I want more companies investing in the game I already have at home. It’s low risk for them and can provide a great time for gamers who want to play an old classic. For once, everybody wins.

Images courtesy of marketplace.xbox.com.

META

A horror-obsessed gamer, Joel is still spending his days looking for something to scare himself as much as Fatal Frame. Even so, he has ridiculous action games and obscure gems to keep him happy in the meantime. A self-proclaimed aficionado of terrible retro games, he's always looking for a rotten game he hasn't played yet, and may be willing to exchange information for candy.

Specialty: Horror