DLC referred to as downloadable content are highly popular and frequently published for video games. They are built as an extension or add-on to games, mainly comprised with new missions, maps, weapons, characters and many different features used to accompany the already released games. They are not released as a retail expansion pack but distributed through the Internet and consoles networks like Xbox Live and PlayStation network (PSN).
The content of these DLC depends on each game itself. For example,
WWE 13 DLC contains
- Additional wrestlers like Rikishi
- An " Attitude Era" Superstars Pack
- A championship title pack
- Online Badges
Whereas the first Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Revolution DLC, you have
- Four new Multiplayer Maps,
- One Zombies Mode called Turned
- One Zombies Map called Die Rise
- An extra weapon called peacekeeper
Downloadable Content are generally used to support each individual game of its genre and designed specifically for that game whereby an additional story or mission line may come in the form of downloadable content in Assassins creed III whereas a new songs or album in Rock Band may be offered to players in form of DLC as "Song pack". One of key elements that make DLC so popular is the fact that most of them arefree and easy to acquired or download. Furthermore they are considered a huge aspect and key element of games now that some publishers have begun selling them as a bundle “Season Pass” at a discount price. These DLC bundles are constructed to allow players access to all downloadable contents of a particular game, but be well aware that they are not immediately available upon a games release and not all available to download after being promoted and offered for sale.
Take for example Assassins Creed III Season Pass DLC which was released for sale 3rd of October 2012 on PS3 for £23.99, All together the DLC is comprised with the five expansions that includes a three-part episodic pack sequel for the single player, new characters and Animi Avatars. The Season pass is 25% cheaper than buying all downloadable content packs separately. This is a more detailed description of the DLC:
Assassins Creed III: Benedict Arnold DLC is the first downloadable content from Assassins Creed III, this is an additional single player campaign taking place between memory sequence 10 and 11 available exclusively for PlayStation 3 and PC.
Assassins Creed III: the Hidden Secrets Pack is the first of five DLC packs for the game. It features it three new missions, one secret location, two outfits, four weapons and two Animi Avatars.
Assassin's Creed III: the Battle Hardened Pack is a multiplayer DLC pack that adds three new characters and three new maps to the game
Assassins creed III: the Tyranny of King Washington is an episodic single-player downloadable content addition for Assassin's Creed III. These are additional campaign missions which explores an alternate history where George Washington becomes corrupted by the Apple of Eden. It’s comprised with three parts named The Infamy, The Betrayal and The Redemption.
To have a better understanding of DLC packs like Assassins Creed III Season Pass, it is comprised with multiple elements built to enhance your gaming experience and get you to enjoy the game even further by playing the additional contents, not only you have multiplayer elements like maps, characters and weapons you also have single player elements like missions, side quests, new locations and new story lines that are there to get you more accustomed to the game, these in-turn makes the game more durable and enjoyable while increasing the life time value of the game.
The key notable facts to be aware of Downloadable contents are that:
- They are parts or additional contents of a particular game
- The content of every DLC vary and differentiate with every game especially the genre
- They are often free but otherwise paid for
- They are released by game publishers like Microsoft Xbox or Sony Computer Entertainment
- They can be downloaded from internet depending on the game platform but generally from publishers online services like PSN or Xbox Live
- The contents of downloadable content can be sold individually or as a bundle usually called “Season Pass”
- They are often being used as pre-order incentives. For example “pre order call of duty black ops 2 and get nuketown 2025 multiplayer map”.
- They come in many forms and often one or more of the following:
- Additional Levels – these are contents which add new maps or puzzles to the game. A good example is “Map Packs” released for Call of Duty, usually comprised with 4 different map packs in every DLC release.
- Extra Campaigns/Quests – these are content that builds a new story upon the main game, while adding or not adding new maps. These are most commonly found in action adventure games like Far Cry 3 “Deluxe Bundle DLC” or Assassins Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington. Another good example is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard which is the first add-on for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This DLC includes new fractions of Dawnguard as well multiple side quests, characters, location, weapons and more
- New Game modes/Rule sets - Content that adds new game modes or rule sets to the game. A typical example of this will be Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Revolution which had a new zombie’s mode called “Turned” whereas killing zombies you’re playing as a zombie.
- Songs – These are content that adds new songs like in Dance Central 3 DLC were your adding new songs to the music rhythm based game, furthermore the Rock Band and Guitar Hero series which has tons of downloadable music contents.
- Equipment/Clothing – These are content that adds new equipment and clothing to characters in the game. They are commonly released on fighting games like Naruto Shippuden : Ultimate Ninja Storm 3(Special Costume Pack) and open world action adventure games like Sleeping Dogs “Martial Arts Pack” and Tomb Raider 2013 “Out fit Pack”.
- Characters – These are content that adds new characters, usually with different abilities and attributes. These are usually common in Action, fighting and sport games like in WWE 13 for example, the WWE Superstars Pack and attitude Era Pack in WWE 13 includes numerous wrestlers like Rikishi, Ryback and the famous boxer Mike Tyson.
- Vehicles – These contents are usually included in racing games, they are basically new vehicles being added to a game, sometimes with unique abilities and attributes. A good example of this is Grand Turismo 5 “Complete Pack” bundle which includes the Course Pack, Racing Car Pack, Racing Gear Pack and Paint Pack. Not only you have the vehicles you get additional gears and paint that support it.
- Cheat/Boost - Content that unlocks part of a game that is normally earned just by playing the game. Examples include the Time is Money Pack for Skate 3 and the In-Game Money content like in The Godfather: the Game.
- The advantages of Downloadable contents are that:
- They extend the game play and longevity of a game by allowing players to play with the extra contents provided.
- The discount attached to the DLC Bundles (season pass) is a bonus with a significant benefit to players or consumers as they are able to acquire an entire game downloadable content at a reduced price.
- For publishers it allows them to gain revenue quickly from pre-orders without immediately delivering the DLC contents.
- The main disadvantages are that:
- They cost money, often a lot although the content within seem valuable, DLC like especially season pass are highly expensive i.e. Call of Duty Black Ops 2 season pass cost $49.99
- Some DLC basically sell contents that are within the game which you can play through to unlock, but you’re basically paying to unlock it.
- Contents on DLC are often questioned as to why they weren't in the main campaign of a game from the beginning whereby you’re made to pay to advance the story of a game like in Assassins Creed III.
- After purchasing a Season Pass, some portion of DLC are still made to be purchased like Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Season Pass which offers a large portion of Black Ops 2 DLC but still includes items to be paid for like the Personalisation Packs for weapons.
- Downloadable contents are not to be mistaken with Downloadable Games. Downloadable Content’s are not Downloadable Games which is why they are mainly referred to as “Add-On”.
- They are not the same as User Generated Contents (UGC) as these refers to in-game contents that can be edited or created by players whereas downloadable contents are additional content that can just be added to a game.
Controversial Downloadable Content
Paid (and even free) DLC can cause controversy, which has led many gamers to question and debate the ethics of Downloadable Content. These practices include:
- "Nickel and Dime" DLC - Cosmetic content that players can pay real money for such as skins, decals, and non-combat companions.
- On-Disc DLC - Content that is included in the original game release, but is locked until players download "content keys" (which may have a noticeably tiny file size, 128 kilobytes for Xbox 360 content). While free On-Disc DLC (such as the costume keys in Dead Rising) rarely receives negative attention, paid On-Disc DLC (such as the characters for Street Fighter X Tekken) is seldom well-received. Some games, like Burnout Paradise, include the locked content in a game's patch. This form of DLC is often used in multiplayer games so other players can see a user's paid content.