The Rise and Fall of Expansions & DLC
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December 30th, 2013, 13:45
I don't have a negative opinion of DLC in the same way I don't have a negative opinion of capitalism.
Capitalism would have been a fine economic system if people were different. But people are people, so a system that's so easily exploitable will be exploited. That's just how it is.
I do have a very negative opinion about how people exploit systems and concepts to maxmise personal gain.
The problem with DLC is precisely that it can be anything - and as such, it's much easier to manipulate and market as something it's not.
Expansions used to have significant content - or at least that was the expectation - and they were judged accordingly. If an expansion didn't have much content and didn't expand the base game in significant ways - it would be deemed a bad expansion.
DLC has no inherent quantity or expectation of quality - and as such, it's much easier to convince people that it's worth it. It can be anything - and everyone will have their own completely subjective opinion about every kind of DLC. There's really no way to review DLC and approach anything remotely objective.
There ARE people who're fine with paying 5$ for a couple of in-game items and a new virtual chair. No one can say it's not worth it.
So, DLC isn't a problem in itself - and it can easily represent something matching a true expansion. But it's very rare - and the reason is that true value for money will result in smaller returns for the business people.
DLC, for the business person, is the perfect opportunity to minimise cost and maxmise revenue. All you need is a reasonably strong franchise or "base" - and you can use the impulse-level cost of DLC to manipulate your audience to buy pretty much anything. Once you have a solid fanbase - you can essentially print your own money by spitting out trivial content at impulse-level prices.
With the right systems and infrastructure, you can create content with almost no effort at all - and since people will buy a turd if it says "Call of Duty" or "FIFA" - you're all set for quite a while.
You can even set up the infrastructure for the money you can expect to get from the initial sales of the base game. The fact that you sell "new content" that was already produced or already ready to be produced at the click of a button is never going to be known to your audience anyway.
So, you tell me, is that a good or a bad thing for the consumer? If you don't have a problem with this, then it's not a bad thing. Hardly a good thing, either - though.