DLC is Dumb

This article was published on 10/26/2014.

Whether you like it or not, DLC is the wave of the future. Trust me, I don't like it. Call me old fashioned, but I believe the transaction between you and the game company should end at the store. As such, I try my best to boycott DLC as much as possible. I'm not perfect; there have been instances when I caved and bought some, but those instances were few and far between. For the most part, I avoid DLC. I'm not hoping to accomplish anything by boycotting it. I have no such delusions of grandeur. I simply boycott it out of spite. I'm a spiteful person. Also, I don't want to waste money on useless virtual junk. I'm now going to talk about the reasons why I'm against DLC.

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Companies hold back content that has already been completed to sell at a later date as DLC. The thing many people don't realize about DLC is that most of it is developed in parallel with the main game, usually by a separate team. By the time the main game is finished, the DLC is, too. In that common scenario, there's no reason for them to not release both the main game and the DLC as one product sold under a single price, other than to make an extra buck. This results in us getting incomplete games that we have to pay extra money to finish. They're basically cutting their games up into smaller pieces and selling the pieces individually to make extra money. Companies have a right to sell their products however they want, but consumers also have the right to not buy those products. As a consumer, I intend to fully exercise that right. If you feel the same way, then you should, too.

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Apparently, a lot of people have this warped sense of reality that DLC is actually a good thing. The pro-DLC argument is that we get a lot more content in our games now, thanks to DLC. If it weren't for DLC, games would have less characters, stages, and modes. Supposedly, companies consistently update the same game with DLC, adding more content, further increasing the value of your purchase. The problem is that this is rarely ever the case. The temptation to abuse DLC to nickel and dime consumers is far too strong for most companies to ignore. One thing to remember is that companies don't work on the same game forever, unless that game is of the MMORPG variety. Games have development times with strict deadlines, and believe it or not, DLC also has deadlines. Even if it were true that the development of DLC is started after a game has been finished, that development time is better spent on something more worthwhile, like a sequel. DLC is good in theory, but not in practice. It is a bad practice, though.

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As bad as on-disc DLC is, off-disc DLC can sometimes be worse. The reason is simple: with on-disc DLC, you have evidence proving that the company is conning you. Said evidence then becomes your power; the power of the consumer. You could say that evidence is the blade of evil's bane. With off-disc DLC, you have no evidence, and therefore, you must simply take the company's word for it. Experience has taught me that you should never take a company's word for anything. It's like when a murderer gets off scot-free, because there wasn't enough evidence to put him behind bars. Developers thought they could fool consumers by hiding the DLC on the disc, but they were wrong. Now on-disc DLC is a practice that rarely happens, allowing companies to conceal evidence of any wrongdoing. That doesn't mean that the wrongdoing has stopped occurring, though. On-disc DLC is totally inexcusable, but when off-disc DLC is content that is excised from the main game to be sold later, then it isn't much better.

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Sequels are better than DLC. I know that statement doesn't need to be made, but it's true nonetheless. Why pay for a small mission pack when you can get an entirely new game instead? A fully fledged sequel naturally costs more money than DLC, but they've got more content, the content is higher quality, and you can buy physical copies of them at stores. Unlike DLC, sequels are actually worth the money. Well, if the sequel is good, that is. Another thing that's better than DLC is expansion packs. Back when people actually bought PC games in stores, companies used to regularly release expansion packs for select games. Expansion packs were choke full of content, almost enough to be considered full sequels. If DLC were more like expansion packs, then maybe they'd be worth getting, but that never really happens. Sometimes DLC isn't even real content, instead being nothing more than costume packs. Five bucks for a set of hats that serve absolutely no game play function whatsoever is not my idea of a good deal. That's my idea of being ripped off.

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DLC gives power to the corporations, not the consumers. One thing people don't always consider about DLC is its longevity. In theory, once DLC becomes available, it should be available forever. It's nothing more than data, after all, and data isn't susceptible to the limitations of physical media. Sadly, that's not the case. The servers that provide DLC to the masses require resources to keep online. Eventually, when a game becomes too old, companies will pull the plug on those servers and stop providing that DLC. At that point, whoever didn't purchase the DLC will be out of luck, because it's gone forever. You won't be able to hit up eBay twenty years later to buy ancient DLC from the past, like you can with NES carts. Personally, I'm not too concerned about this, because most DLC is a waste of time and best left forgotten. However, in the rare event that DLC is actually good, it's stupid to permanently lose access to it simply because you weren't an early adopter. The more content is delivered via DLC, the more of it will be permanently lost to the sands of time in the far flung future.

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Nintendo was one of the last companies to jump on the DLC bandwagon. They've always been kind of slow to adopt certain standards, much to their fans' chagrin. This is one standard that people like me were happy that Nintendo wasn't adopting, though unfortunately, that happiness has come to an end. At first, they tried to assure their fans that they'll do DLC differently than their competitors. They proudly proclaimed that they'll do it the right way. They're a corporation, though, and corporations never do anything the right way. Nintendo's DLC plans are as underhanded as anyone else's, especially with the recent announcement that you'll get Mewtwo as a playable character in the new Super Smash Bros. games if you buy both the 3DS and Wii U versions. Naturally, this Mewtwo DLC is being billed as a "free" DLC, but it's not really free if you're forced to buy two games to get it. Let's be real here: most people were only going to buy one version of the game... until now. Nintendo is no stranger to this tactic, as they've been encouraging people to buy multiple versions of the same game with franchises like Pokemon for years. Nintendo finally doing DLC is a sign that this phenomenon is here to stay.

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I hate DLC. I'll concede that there are occasional instances of DLC being worth the money, but it doesn't happen often enough, and even if it did, I still don't like it. Perhaps I'm a stubborn mule clinging onto old traditions, but I just don't like buying more content for a game I've already purchased. Once I buy a game, I want that purchase to be final. Besides, DLC isn't permanent, as it vanishes once the servers are shut down, and it's too easily abused by game companies.

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