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DLC and How It's Being Utilized Today

Updated on April 2, 2013

Hello, people of the internet, and/or whatever other means this is getting to you. It's Time for some interesting conversation! Let's find something interesting to talk about. We live in an age where video games have tons of different options. We've got motion controls, HD graphics, and some of the most realistic looking games we've seen to this day, with Games like Battlefield, Call of Duty, and even some of the more fantastical games. Technology, especially that of video games, has advanced to create great innovations. One of the best things to come from this age, in my opinion, is the addition of downloadable content, or DLC. DLC not only expands the game by giving us new things to experiment with, or new environments to experiment in, but it also extends the life of the game by offering new levels, characters, and entire stories to access, and even then offers a wide range of other items for us to play around with.


I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's perfect, though. Some games are released with paid DLC. This, in itself, isn't a bad thing, but seems kind of misplaced. DLC helps to extend the life of a game, and to have it immediately available at the game's release seems to defeat the purpose of extending that games life. Take, for example, Zen Pinball 2 for the WiiU. The game itself is free to download, but you are limited to only four “Trial” tables, and have to purchase and download the rest. You also have to have the demo table in order for the table you purchased to work. Each table also has a trial you can download for free, and Its normal, purchased counterpart. This is where things turn sour for the game. The trial only limits you to a certain time or score. After surpassing the considered measure, you can continue the game until you lose the current ball, then the demo will end.


The biggest problem with this idea is that the game doesn't come with even one free full table. You have four trials, limited by both time and score. There's just not much fun to be had with these two limitations on you. The tables are beautifully crafted, and have an incredible depth. The prices for most of the tables is roughly $2.99 USD, but there are also larger packs of 4 tables, which cost around $9.99 and come under different themes for the respective packs.


There is a good side to this idea, however. The player has the freedom to choose which tables are available to them. They don't find themselves stuck with a table they didn't want to begin with. It wouldn't be too much trouble to have only wasted about $3.00, and the player is free to download the already purchased table again if they change their minds, or tastes, in the future. This creates another good thing when it comes to DLC. The player doesn't need to keep unnecessary data on their hard drive. If they become bored with it, or need space for something else, they can delete it from their hard drive, and download it again later.


an image of the "Sorcerer's Lair" downloadable table from Zen Pinball 2
an image of the "Sorcerer's Lair" downloadable table from Zen Pinball 2 | Source

Another way DLC is implemented is with the games themselves. Instead of buying the disc for most games, players have the option to download the game itself to their console's hard drive. This allows them to pick up the game whenever they want, without having to worry about a scratched or damaged disc. They can also, much like other DLC packs, delete it from their hard drive, and download it again later if they feel inclined to. As long as the player has a stable internet connection, they have complete access to the game they purchased, with no need of a disc.


The designers of consoles today have even taken the idea a step further. With newer consoles, you can plug in external storage devices, such as a USB flash drive, SD card, or external hard disk drive. For those of you who don't know what an external hard drive is, think of a flash drive with WAY more space. You can use these external devices to store even more DLC to keep with you, eliminating the need for multiple discs, and keeping your data for you, while you can download it again should something happen. And let's not fool ourselves, even in this advancing day and age, technology isn't perfect. It can, and eventually will, fail on you.


Another recent, dare I say, “Trend” is the popularity of DLC in the form of a toy. Skylanders figures have become more popular with the passing two years, and even Disney is jumping into the loop with their own idea, Disney Infinity. The general idea is to buy a figure with the data to unlock and use the figure stored inside, usually in some sort of memory chip. The memory chip inside of the figure is read in game via another peripheral device, and the character is loaded into the game with the appropriate stats and abilities as determined by the chip inside the figure.


The good thing about this is in it's idea. It's not been a very well developed Idea until the recently. The idea is still fresh, and ripe for the picking. Multiple genres of games and different designers can use this idea for a number of other implications. Let's use Disney Infinity here as an example. I won't sit there pretending to know anything about this currently unreleased game. I will, however, talk about the things I've heard. Apparently, it's to be a sort of sandbox platformer, where the player can explore a story mode, and play around with unlockable features via something called “Toybox mode” or something of that nature. It seems comparable to Minecraft, but with Disney action figures.

The figures, though not very well textured, have nice appeal to them
The figures, though not very well textured, have nice appeal to them | Source

Another less conventional purpose for DLC is to promote a character or feature of a game. Many games available for pre-order offer a special code to download unique outfits, areas, and equipment for use in the game, giving the player (or in this case, potential buyer) a reason to pay for the game before its release. In a more relevant case, let's go back to Nintendo. The guys at Nintendo have decided to turn 2013 into their official “Year of Luigi” to bring this super second fiddle into the limelight for some time. Though one of their more prominent releases under this idea is the 3DS game Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, they've come to offer some other products for this year. The one I'd like to touch base on is the “New Super Luigi U” pack for Sew Super Mario Bros U. The pack has taken every level of new super Mario bros U, and changed them completely. Also, It's not titled new super Luigi “Bros” which brings up the assumption that this DLC pack will be single player.

Source

DLC can be utilized in a multitude of ways, ranging from expanding the game, all the way to offering the player his own choice of available items in game. It's something we can hope will be improved over time, and will probably see progress with the coming ages. We still have problems with it every now and then, but what needs done gets done. I don't know about you guys, but I'm completely exhausted. If you liked this little bit of information, then good. If you didn't like it, I can't do much but to say I'm sorry (then again, if you didn't like it, you probably didn't read this far. If you did, why?) But it's already past due, and I'm off to bed. See you guys soon!

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    • JohnGreasyGamer profile image

      John Roberts 4 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

      Another fantastic hub, TNT Husky! As much as I like downloadable content I still think it's sometimes a sham. One example would be Capcom controversy where the DLC was already on the disc, but you had to pay to unlock it. This also applies to Homefront where you can play so many levels with shoddy weapons, before having to unlock the rest of the multiplayer to level up and thus gain more guns. That's so funny I forgot to laugh.

      However there are some great examples of DLC. Bethesda's first piece of DLC for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was Horse Armour, and while it recieved critical reception, the company learnt quite clearly that they could do so much more. Enter the Shivering Isles, the residences (Frostcrag Spire, Battlehorn Castle, Vampire Lair and Thieves' Den) and the Knights of the Nine, not to mention awesome additional books and spell tomes, and smaller side quests like the Orrerry and Mehrunes' Razor.

      Apologies if I missed this, but there's also expansions for PC games, particularly MMOs. They're the best examples of expanding a game, and one needs only to turn to WoW to see how much an expansion can shape - for better and for worse - the base game.

      DLC has its ups and downs but the important thing is not to cake it onto the base game as though it was a tart before, trying to hide its previous ugliness. Too much DLC that doesn't fit in well with the game can make it look like it's on life support, much like the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive with TWO addons - the 32X (for 32-bit games) and the Sega CD. It looked disfigured and unplayable, and the amount of power and cables that were required to run them all were attrocious.

      Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome as always! Pleasure reading these!