Is DLC Too Expensive?

By Mike on 6:35 pm

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There has been some recent controversy over Capcom preparing costly DLC for Resident Evil V, which will be available on release. Many gamers feel it is unfair to have new content so soon after release, that could have been on the game disc, for extra money. When it comes to gaming, my background is as a PC gamer. We've had DLC for a vary long time in the forms of user mods, most of which were free. Consoles have now shifted to offering payware downloadable content add-ons for games. This has been a landmark for consoles in that games are now expandable in a similar way PC games are. However, I cannot help but wonder whether consumers are getting nickle & dimed. I was browsing through this weeks Playstation Store updates and noticed car downloads for Burnout Paradise. Two cars were being sold for $4.99 each. To me, this seems awfully expensive when there are entire games being offered for as low as $6 on the store, such as Noby Noby Boy. Burnout is a pretty gross example of how expensive DLC can be. It's a ripoff to charge that kind of money for a single car, considering the entire game is only $40. Charging more than 10% of the game's value for a single, relatively minor add-on is a ripoff.

Another example of overcharging for DLC in my opinion are the LittleBigPlanet Sackboy costumes. These are basically skins but they want $1.99 for it. While a Toonie isn't a lot of money, consider a song off iTunes only costs $0.99. It's fair to say that a lot more goes into the production of a song track than it does for one animator to make a simple costume for a game character. Granted LBP add-ons are going to sell at a far lower volume but it's still a tad on the pricey side considering it does nothing to enhance or extend the gameplay experience. A fair price would be $0.99 per costume. This isn't just a Playstation problem either; given the price of Virtual Console titles on the Wii, which cost far more individually than they do in compilation packages.

The problem with DLC on console versus PC is one of basic economics. On PC, payware DLC providers have to compete with user created mods. This encourages them to pack more features into their mods to compete with what is essentially free. Flight Simulator payware add-ons tend to be expensive but they're tailored to fly identically to the real aircraft and tend to feature far more detail. On console, developers have a monopoly over DLC. No competition and they can charge more. It's still outrageous regardless of the circumstances, and it's why I refuse to buy it.

Update 03/15/09: After I published this, IGN posted an article on the same issue, but on Xbox Live. Definitely worth reading.

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