Earlier this week I wrote a pretty strongly worded case for why DLC was significantly damaging many players gaming experiences with an article heavily criticizing one of DLC's common flaws. But I couldn't rest without presenting a good counter argument for the case of DLC because as much as I find problems with the current DLC system that need to be fixed, as a whole I actually like DLC. I like the idea. I like what it stands for. I like what it can offer. So to balance my direct attack on DLC's flaws and failings, today I'm going to post a rebuttal of sorts looking at all of the good DLC brings to the table. Lets not make any mistakes here, I still see far to many flaws with the way much of the DLC content is handled these days, but at the same time I see so much potential for good. So today we're going to look at a few of the things that redeem DLC rather then condemn it.
1) DLC is More Profitable for Developers than Multiple Games:
Simply put, when one looks at the numbers and runs through them in his or her head, producing DLC content makes good financial sense for a developer. When you look at the average cash profit generated by a game you bought at your local brick-and-mortar store, it's very rare that the actual developer of the game makes more then fifteen dollars on the sixty that you spent. The lions share of the profits are consumed by the publisher and the retailer, with the developer picking up what scraps are left.
DLC on the other hand if handled well, has the potential to put a much greater percentage profit into the hands of the developer, skipping over the retailer and in some cases the publisher to put profits directly into the hands of the studio itself. Where a developer may only make ten or fifteen dollars on the point sale of a game, the sale of a single map pack to the same customer can almost double their profit on the game. Additionally the developmental cost of DLC is much lower then the game itself was. Building a new game from the ground up involves a substantial amount of groundwork, DLC makes continued use of that groundwork, expanding on costs already paid for.
Comparatively, each time a studio sets out to produce a new game, they're sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into an entirely new venture.
2) DLC Allows Developers to Revisit Old Ideas:
Its no secret that every game goes through a trimming process. Every game out there has a pile of great ideas that never make it into the game, usually due to time, budget, or even thematic restraints. Map concepts are weighed, then discarded with a sigh, character or plot lines that just don't quite fit in with the ploy already in place are shelved, or player powers or weapons are removed simply because there just isn't enough time to add everything.
DLC allows developers to revisit old content that in the past would have fallen by the wayside. Where ten years ago a designer would have had to shake their head at a discard idea and moved on to the next game, developers now can instead put this cut material into a folder marker "future ideas" rather then into the nearest garbage can.
3) DLC Extends the Life of Your Game:
While both of the prior reasons are mainly why developers should be paying attention to DLC, this one is squarely for you the customer. DLC when done well gives you more bang for your buck, new ways to play and ultimately more fun with a game that you already enjoy playing. Gone are the days when you needed to buy a sequel "for the maps" or "for the new weapons." DLC is the path to spending fifteen dollars to get the new material instead of fifty. What more can I say? I'd rather spend five dollars for five new maps and spend my next few hours enjoying a title I'm already familiar with then spending sixty for the same game with different maps.
Of course, much of what I've suggested above falls under the assumption that the DLC being produced is in question actually worth it. I don't think it's much of a stretch to look at some of the DLC released these days with a glare of shame (I'm looking at you, five dollar unlock all secret RPG DLC packs). But with all of the bad surrounding DLC, I think it's important to remember that there are some definite good points as well.