There was once a time to when buying a video game disk or cartridge meant getting the finished article, fast forward to the present day with all the changes to the video game industry, and we see that is no longer the case. These extra costs are worrying for cash-strapped gamers and to some comes as a surprise at a time when other aspects of the gaming industry, such as online gambling, are seeing player numbers thanks to operators offering services largely based on free content.
Streaming services and downloadable content (DLC) mean that our favourite titles are never complete but ever evolving as more fresh content is released or added to the original. To those not in the know, DLC are a little different to sequel games, and are more like extra challenges, storylines, characters or costumes that players have to pay for.
The issue is that many gamers now feel that developers are holding back original content to increase revenues by selling it as DLC at a later date. Many DLC releases are priced at a percentage of the retail cost of the initial release, but some may come at a premium, not to mention the increasing use of in-game micro-transactions.
These extra costs are worrying for cash strapped gamers and to some comes as a surprise at a time when other aspects of the gaming industry, such as online gambling, are seeing player numbers thanks to operators offering services largely based on free content.
The Rise and Rise in DLC Costs
As with many things in life, not everyone is happy when change occurs, but current trends would seem to imply that video gamers have good reason to complain about the rising cost of DLC releases. One astonishing example that stands out is the fact that the upcoming 3DS game Fire Emblem: Shadow of Valencia Echoes from Nintendo will have DLC content will cost more than the base game’s price! Contrast this to the common practice of online casino and bingo sites with free sign up bonus and the magnitude of the issue at hand becomes clear. However, there are many factors that can also be cited in mitigation on behalf of the developers.
For a start, it makes good business sense to plan for DLC releases further down the road as it keeps fans of the game engaged and loyal. In addition, charging for the new content is also one of the ways that video games developers and publishers can make a living given the issues surrounding online piracy and illegal downloads. The issue is that although video games are now played by all ages, not everyone can afford to fork out premium prices every few months for what is essentially a small part of the same game.
Is DLC Content the future of Gaming?
As mentioned above, the world is clearly moving away from physical discs for the consumption of music, films, and games. This makes it more certain that DLC releases will remain a part of the gaming industry for the foreseeable future; but if that is the case then more needs to be done. A solution will have to be found to help developers and publishers earn a living off the work they create while ensuring that gamers receive the best value for the content they are paying for.
With the online gambling genre currently being the fastest growing sector in the gaming industry there is no reason why lessons cannot be learnt from its model and applied to mainstream video games. The DLC model is clearly being used by some developers as a means to earn revenue through holding back content, but gambling operators are continuing to show that it doesn’t have to be that way.