I read a terribly interesting article the other day, shared by a friend who works at a game company that I’ll leave nameless. The article is right here, if you’re interested. The topic? DLC. The major complaint people tend to give is that “back in my day, we didn’t have DLC”. Of course we didn’t, there wasn’t a goddamn internet! We couldn’t have Downloadable Content, especially not on Day One because it was not feasible. There were a few instances of downloadable content on 80s/90s consoles, but it was incredibly rare. But we’re talking about modern day, day one DLC. A lot of people bitch about it. I even have once or twice! Though I tended to rant more about Day One patches, even though I understand why they happen. They just annoy me, and I have to complain about something or I’ll go mad. Some DLC is stuff that hit the cutting room floor, and in order to get it out there, it was put in the form of DLC. Once the game has been produced, and it is waiting to go on sale, there is still a huge team sitting there, doing nothing! They can’t get paid for doing nothing, so what do they do? They create more content. There are such things as deadlines, budgets, and limits. This is one of my favorite quotes from the article.
“But that’s not how it actually works. Developers are also gamers. They do it because they love making games, they love making content fun and engaging for people. And during the development process, they know that they won’t have the time or the budget to make everything they want happen. The game has to finish on time, and it has to hit the shelves by a certain date.”
Features get dropped, characters cut, cool stuff doesn’t quite make it to the full game. But does that mean the game isn’t “complete”? No, of course not! Sometimes, sure that’s the case. But they keep making content that can go out on day one, because they have families to feed too. And at the core, most devs are gamers too, and create content they’d like to see. And they point at “Expansions” too. I agree with the point they make there. Only certain companies really make solid cash on expansions. You know, like Blizzard. One of their games has an expansion coming? Millions of units sold, no sweat. Battleborn has an expansion coming? Thirty five units, maybe. [Don’t hate me, Gearbox, I love Battleborn] The times are changing, and the way sales work have to change with them.
“The long and the short of it is that the content that gets delivered via DLC needs to be paid for in some way. That could be through increased new game sales, microtransactions, paid DLC, or possibly even advertising revenue. It will almost never be free, it has to be paid for somehow, even if that means the publisher or studio has to eat the costs itself. While it is nice that some developers do that, it’s not feasible long-term.”
Does it suck sometimes to have to spend more money once you’ve bought a game to get more stuff? Sure. But does that make the game any less complete? Absolutely not. Time on this side of the industry, talking to developers and producers really changes how I feel about things. Where do you stand though?