Thursday, February 6, 2014

Discussion #4 - Downloadable Content (DLC)

In recent times a certain phenomenon has emerged in the business of video games. Just like with any other business, the Video Game Industry is out to make money and there are many avenues that video game companies will take in order to make money and retain their financial status. Business can get rough at points and when companies need to make a profit they tend to get creative with their marketing. When a video game is put out on the shelves of a big store like Wal-Mart, it is either going to sell very well, sell at a decent rate, sell at a mild rate, or it won't sell well at all. It is up to the gamers to decide for themselves what games they would like to buy when they look through the game library and depending on the marketing that is handled by companies, gamers will lean towards certain games that appeal to their interests.

What is the recent phenomenon that I speak of? Well, there are plenty of video games out there in this day and age that rely on online connectivity and interactivity and there is a feature where gamers can go online and purchase add-ons to their favorite games. The concept of Downloadable Content, or DLC for short, was created in the late 2000's in a time when gaming technology became more advanced and efficient. Game developing companies use DLC as additions to the overall gaming experience, additions that were not available to the gaming community at the time of the finished product's release. Gamers are required to pay just a little bit more money to acquire DLC additions and they are allowed to experience extra content that is meant to expand the lifespan of the original game.

The concept of Downloadable Content rests on the foundation of a company presenting a new option for the gamer to play through a game that he or she already owns, but also providing a meaningful alternative to existing options that the gamer may not want to use all the time. In a single video game, the act of diversifying is needed so that the experience doesn't fade into dullness. For some games, Downloadable Content provides flexibility because it isn't limited to just one choice. Downloadable Content doesn't usually give the gamer just one more option and nothing more. A wide variety of options are usually put on the table for a DLC package to encourage consumers to buy and to add to their game.

There are reasons why Downloadable Content exists. First off, DLC is used to give the development team relief. Schedules can be very rough for development teams and not every single bit of content can be put into the original game. There are deadlines that development teams must meet. They must get games out on the market by a specific time because the wheels are always moving in game development. By the time one game project is finished it doesn't take long for the next game project to begin.

Secondly, and this is probably the most harsh reason, development teams implement DLC packages to make more money. The Video Game Industry is a business and if gaming companies aren't making enough money to support their daily operations, then they are going to fold up their tents and fade away. As long as the DLC packages come at fair and reasonable prices, then gaming companies should have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, this aspect of Downloadable Content can be mishandled in a variety of ways and it can turn into a bitter subject for gamers to tackle. Sometimes questions arrive in the form of "Why do I have to pay -blah- amount of dollars for the DLC?", "Why wasn't something so simple like this add-on added in the original game?", or even "Why is this DLC package necessary?"

Once gaming technology arrived at the point where DLC became a viable option for companies, game development plans have been tweaked to work around the DLC concept so that priorities could be sorted out and the developers could focus on the most important aspects of the original game. More often than not the things that are featured in DLC packages happen to be ideas that game developers may have originally had for the game but were put aside in favor of what eventually was made official.

One thing that must be considered would be that Downloadable Content is only optional. It isn't mandatory for gamers to purchase. If gamers don't want to buy DLC then they don't have to buy it. DLC is a "Take It or Leave It" kind of situation. It all comes down to how appealing the DLC package is. If a DLC package appeals to you enough then you would probably want to buy it. If a DLC package is something that you question and it's something that you are hesitant about then you will either ask for more information or you will consider not buying it. DLC is mainly a reminder about a gamer being practical with his or her money.

In closing, DLC packages work for some gamers and DLC packages don't work for others. This is really a subjective issue. DLC is just another option for gamers to explore if they want to continue their gaming experience with a game they really enjoy playing. Gamers generally like to have options available for them and it is important for companies to handle the distribution of options properly. DLC is something that can't be mishandled because of the economic impact that affects gamers. Reasonable prices for DLC packages are the key. You can't aim too high and you can't aim too low.

The one thing we all really need to mentally download would be discernment as gamers. Now that's content that's good for the mind.

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