Home Gaming Editorial: The Problem With DLC

Editorial: The Problem With DLC

6 min read


Downloadable content has become a large part of gaming during this generation, allowing developers and publishers to add even more content onto their games long after release.

Sure, in the past we have had expansion packs, and some that was even available via download, but DLC has finally become commonplace in the market and has almost become an expected feature with every new title that releases.

Is DLC really working out so well? Let’s look at some of the major problems that have arisen so far.

More after the jump.

The reason that these issues sprung to mind is because of something that happened to me recently.

Last year, I reviewed Assassin’s Creed II for the Xbox 360 and was blown away with the entire experience, I simply couldn’t get enough. The knowledge that the developers had already planned additional DLC got me very excited, because once it all ended I just wanted more, and this was answer.

A little while down the line, the first set of DLC for Assassin’s Creed II called “The battle of Forli” was released, and found that I just wasn’t interested in downloading it anymore.

I felt the same about Mass Effect 2, if not more so. I loved the game so much, that I gave it my very first perfect review score. Nothing could tear me away from playing it, and even though there were hours and hours of fun to be had, I just couldn’t wait to play it even more when the DLC was made available.

Now, a short while later, the first set of DLC missions have been released in the shape of the Firewalker download.

Not only is it additional game time with one of my favorite games of the year, but it’s also adding a completely new gameplay element (the hover vehicle) to the game and it’s even completely free.

Why then, do I find that I couldn’t be bothered to even download it? I mean, I was just dying to get my hands on more of it when I finished it earlier this year and now I just don’t care anymore.

Add the exact same story to Fallout 3 and I had a reason to write an article about.


There are a few factors that have an effect on these scenarios.

It would be foolish to ignore the power of hype, which is something that us reviewers have to be very careful about at all times, but it still exists. When you are excited for a new game that you have just bought, it’s all that you want to be about. You dive deep into the world offered to you and immerse yourself in the genre and the setting.

Once you are done with the game and a few weeks pass, that excitement gradually fades away and as gamers, we already start to focus on the next best thing that’s going to be available.

The other factor that plays an important role is the need to relearn the game. A game like Fallout 3 can take a little bit of time to get used to. What buttons do what, where you have to navigate to in order to find your map, inventory management, shortcut buttons etc. and with the amount of games that the average “hardcore” gamer plays these days, it can be difficult to remember what does what and have to get back into it (I believe that this is also an issue for people who never go back to finish their unfinished games).

As a last note for that last point, I often find that DLC (specifically additional missions or content for single player games) is released far too late, meaning that many gamers are already into something else, or have already traded the game out.

Expensive prices for DLC don’t help either, especially when the added content is not up to scratch. After playing the first Mass Effect I bought the DLC pack that was released a while later, only to find myself heavily disappointed at what was essentially nothing more than a glorified Mako moon landing mission. I felt like I had been burned, and it made me start thinking twice about buying DLC without making sure it was worth it first.

Map packs for multiplayer games seem to work out best, as they truly do add value to the online experience. The issue is that some of them can be a little expensive, or not entirely appealing to everyone which then causes a major problem – splitting the multiplayer community.

Once a map pack has been released, you either have it, and play with everyone at all times, or you don’t, and you are stuck with fewer games to find and a less friends to play with. Matchmaking systems have thankfully made this process easier on everyone, but a great example of where everything went wrong was the Gears of War series.

In the first Gears of War, people who didn’t have the additional maps were simply booted from the game, leaving them to sit there and do nothing while the other half of their friends played happily, only to return once the game was back to an original map (if there was space).

Gears of War 2 tried to do things a little differently, but caused nothing more problems for everyone. In Gears of War 2, if someone who doesn’t have the map packs joins your game (which can not be made private), those maps are removed from the playlist entirely, leaving those who paid for them annoyed and disgruntled at the fact that night after night they would land up playing the same old maps because one or two people didn’t have them.

All of these factors, and a bunch more (don’t get me started on ripoffs like outfits and color schemes) combined have made me realise that DLC in general is a learning process for game developers and publishers. While some of it can be beneficial, it still has a lot of growing up to do. Hopefully, after a couple more years we will truly see DLC shine in every way and become an absolute godsend for gamers. For now, it’s a little up and down and many people will find themselves uninterested, unsatisfied or left out because of this new age feature.

How has DLC treated you? Do you buy a lot of DLC? What do you think can be done to solve the problems? Let us know your thoughts by posting a comment below.

Last Updated: March 29, 2010


  1. I only get DLC that wont affect my Online experience negatively. Your example with Gears of War is what I’m talking about. That’s why I sold my MW2, I know only 50% of the community will have the Stimulus Map Pack.


  2. mitas

    March 29, 2010 at 10:57

    i dont but dlc because i already paid r700 for a full game , anything extra should be free and made to make me wanna come back…CASHCOWS


    • koldFU5iON

      March 29, 2010 at 11:05

      DLC is not part of the original concept of the game, it’s just that little bit extra for fans of the game, I agree some extra content is hogswash and should go through some form of quality check before being release or at least should adhere to certain criteria.

      however DLC is like and expansion pack which has been done since the dawn of gaming.


      • Naudran

        March 29, 2010 at 11:59

        I disagree there. An expansion pack is usually a whole game in and by itself (even though you need to original).

        DLC on PC games are free… when everyone paid for the new maps for MW1 on the XBox, all the PC players got it for free.

        So, depending what the actual DLC is should matter whether there should be a price. One should not pay for new maps etc. IMO


  3. bboy

    March 29, 2010 at 11:10

    I agree with your experience, pretty much do the same thing regarding DLC, don’t buy it. I’d rather get a new game.

    Initially DLC was cool because it really helped let game vendors bring you more content later on, but now I think all developers are planning their DLC and make sure to explicitly not to include it in the original title so they can sell it later, which sucks. it could also spell the end of 2nd hand games if all game content is provided via DLC – just a matter of time.


  4. ClericZA

    March 29, 2010 at 11:54

    I also sold my MW2 on the day the new maps were announced. There was no way I was gonna be part of another splintered community.


  5. WitWolfyZA

    March 29, 2010 at 12:27

    i hate the whole idea of buying this DLC packs, if its RPG,FPS or even music games.. The chances of u using that content is very scarse. I barely touched my LIPS DLC seeing that no one had the same songs as me. same with Rockband2. And never went so far as to get the GeoW2 maps.. my friends always sacrificed their DLc maps for we who didnt have it anyways


  6. Dave

    March 29, 2010 at 13:04

    David Jaffe at Eat. Sleep. Play. had an interesting view on this: he said people need to get into the mindset of, regardless what DLC is or will soon be available, is this game worth the money you spent.

    I find that far too basic a view on DLC (as it is now). Just look at the different kinds you can get.

    One kind is where they correct mistakes (e.g. Fallout 3’s ending) and probably add to the game. One is stand alone missions and stories (like Heavy Rain’s DLC). One is more maps or multiplayer modes (like Left 4 Dead). One is more costumes or customisation (Resident Evil 5?). Then, obviously, there are some games which mix several of these DLC types (e.g Mass Effect 2) All of these are okay providing that the original game feels pretty complete and worth your money.

    My problem is with DLCs that were obviously cut from the game to add at a later date, such as the several years story missing in Assassain’s Creed 2 which now acts as the DLC, or “the other path” Dom might choose to take in Gears Of War 2. Things like this should either be included in the game or a free additon at a later date if they didn’t have time to perfect it (ala Mass Effect 2).

    Pricing is another problem, as shown by the Stimulus Pack for Modern Warfare 2. DLC should be cheap and cheerful or pricey and substantial.

    As for what will motivate us to buy more DLC, I’m not sure. I think Mass Effect 2 is doing well so far, as they’ve had a steady stream on free DLC before they will start a steady stream on paid, meaning it should always be fresh in our minds. However, some people might find DLC just a little too small to really see value in the purchase. I then think something like GTA IV Episodes from Liberty City are playing the right card, although the problem there is that some people may have had enough GTA IV after the main game.

    There’re the major problem – catering to an audience who all want differnt things. It’ll be a whille before DLC construction, release and pricing are perfected.


  7. Dareno

    March 30, 2010 at 11:29

    Sorry Nick, I know you are going to hate me – but your article is flawed. Firstly all games now come with DLC – on all platforms, but on PC there are no costs involved. Your article is also full of your own opinion and nothing is researched. It would’ve been nice to see how a segment of the gaming market feel about DLC and their reasons. Unfortunately we are stuck with how you perceive it.

    However, you do make valid points, but I just feel some community or gamer input would’ve added more value to your article. Nonetheless a good read with many valid points.

    So here’s my take on DLC (on all platforms)
    * DLC – especially old content (old maps from a previous version of the game etc) should be free
    * Small missions – free
    * Major new curves can be released in paid for small expansions
    * DLC adds major value to game-specific communities. For instance Forza.
    * I agree with your comments on timing – DLC should start 14-20 days after the initial release and then be released in 20 day increments to ensure your game does not get shelved.
    * Pricing! See on PSN DLC is free (need clarification on this please as I do not own a PS3) on Live it is now 800-1200 points for a Saffa that is R120-odd Rand and on PC content is pretty much community driven and free.


    • Geoff

      March 30, 2010 at 11:45


      Definition: Of or pertaining to an editor; written or sanctioned by an editor; as, editorial labors; editorial remarks. an article published as an expression of the views of the editor.

      It stands to reason that it would be full of his opinion, as editorials are opinion pieces.

      Still…feel free to point out how Nick’s opinion is just plain wrong. I do it all the time. 🙂


      • Nick de Bruyne

        March 30, 2010 at 12:28

        Hey Dareno, What Geoff Said. Also, you complain that there is no gamer input on the very same platform that you as a gamer have to give your input?

        That’s exactly what the comments threads are for, I gave my own ideas in the hope that you guys would either agree or disagree and tell me why, which is exactly what you did.

        PS3 DLC isn’t free, usually same as XBLA. Thanks for the comment anyway, you make valid points as well, just not sure where you were going with the editorial part.


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