A cursory search on Google shows that a lot of people think a lot of DLC sucks for a lot of games. Who can blame them? Companies are getting greedy and releasing day 1 DLC and even cutting out content altogether from the base game to sell as DLC. Bioware/EA did this with “From Ashes” for Mass Effect 3 and Capcom with basically the entire final chapter for Asura’s Wrath. Some companies get so crazy with DLC they create 300+ of them for $10+ each. Destiny even locked away old content for those that didn’t purchase The Taken King DLC. At best these practices lead to hesitation in the gaming community when hearing ‘DLC’, and at worst leads to outright hate for the term. It’s a shame because DLC has so much potential.
When I really enjoy a game, I want to keep playing it. This is true of MMORPGs I play and true of single player games too. Great games are magic carpet rides that let me experience worlds with spectacular people, places, and events. An all too common phrase is ‘all good things must come to an end’. But do all good things have to come to an end? That may be a whimsical point of view, but I play games with laser guns, dragons, wizards, zombies, and all sorts of non-existent creations. Why not be a little fanciful with my favorite worlds too?
DLC is the opportunity for developers to continue supporting their game well past release in a way that benefits themselves and their players. Developers create an income source without needing to build a game from the ground up and players can experience new content in a world they love. I don’t really think anyone has a problem with that on paper, but major publishers and gaming corporations are ruining the term DLC for everyone. I feel that too often indie developers or smaller studios shy away from downloadable content because of the negative connotation it carries. Expeditions: Conquistador is a fantastic non-linear tactical RPG in an underused setting with the potential for both new campaigns and current campaign extensions. Yet it seems like that opportunity will never be explored. This makes Cortes sad.
Obviously, some developers just want to work on a new IP or a new game. It’s not like developers ignore creating DLC solely because of the negative connotation. That’s understandable, but it’s so easy now to taken up by the swath of DLC hatred and avoid even considering it. Luckily, The Witcher 3’s handling of DLC should inspire some of these developers to continue building upon their already successful games. The handling of Witcher 3’s NPCs inspired our post about MMORPG NPCs so we figured we would take another look at something CDPR is handling very well.
Ignoring CDPR’s free add-on content for The Witcher 3, the two expansions to end Geralt’s journey are nothing short of amazing. The latest expansion, Blood and Wine, is large enough to be a brand new game in its own right. It introduces new features, landmasses, characters, and other content while making references to the main story for those who completed it. It does so without alienating players who did not purchase Hearts of Stone, their first piece of paid DLC (although every Witcher 3 fan should just buy the season pass for both expansion packs). Although CDPR planned both of these paid DLC from the onset of the game’s launch, their original game did not suffer for it. Without getting too spoilery, I still wish they would fix the Reason of State quest in the base game, but The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the best open world RPG I’ve ever played by a mile and a half. I want to continue that journey for as long as possible.
This is the way DLC is meant to be implemented. Witcher 3’s DLC isn’t required to fix or finish the original game. It simply brings more to do and extends the shelf life of a very enjoyable game. The price of both expansions is also representative of their content, as opposed to the previously mentioned From Ashes for Mass Effect 3. Hearts of Stone costs $10 for 10 hours of gameplay. Blood and Wine is $20 for 20-30 hours of gameplay plus UI improvements. From Ashes is $10 for less than an hour of gameplay. All three are enjoyable adventures, but CDPR’s pricing system makes a lot more sense than Bioware’s. They aren’t banking on feeding a drug addiction like Bioware/EA but instead offer a fair value proposition.
Now, I don’t want to come off as a fanboi for CDPR declaring that they are the only big boys to do DLC right. FromSoftware has delivered great post-release content for their ‘SoulsBorne’ games without intentionally sabotaging the base game. On the strategy front, Paradox has supported Europa Universalis IV and Crusader Kings II players to the nth degree with what are primarily single player games evolving more than most MMOs. For FPS fans, Arkane Studios didn’t skimp out on The Knife of Dunwall or The Brigmore Witches when they developed those respective DLC for Dishonored. They simply extended the lore and experience for the action stealth title.
Companies exist that care about bringing quality DLC to their fans at a reasonable price. They simply have been overshadowed by greedy behemoths. The rave reviews for Witcher 3’s DLC Blood and Wine speak volumes to the vastness that downloadable content can bring to our gaming experience. It’s pretty rare for gaming news to shine DLC in a positive light, and it’s unfortunate that it takes a one of kind experience with 2015’s Game of the Year to make us see this.
I actually want to see more DLC, especially for my favorite games. I’m sad knowing that Blood and Wine will likely be my last experience with Geralt and crew. But at least I have a ton of high quality content to relive (especially if books are included). This is thanks to post-game support that CDPR was able to monetize and customers able to enjoy for at a fair price. That’s a win-win for both parties, and it’s trend I hope to see spread across the industry.