The dark side of DLC

Gaming, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
The newest Resident Evil will allow you to fight your friends online...for a price.
The newest Resident Evil will allow you to fight your friends online...for a price.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before all the success and profit that has come from video gaming’s downloadable content market brought out the greed in companies. While not the only offender, Capcom’s “Resident Evil 5” clocks in as the latest villain.

The game just hit stores on Friday the 13th and Capcom is already talking about the upcoming DLC. In a few weeks, three new multiplayer modes will be released for online play at a cost of $4.99 (PS3) or 400 MS points (Xbox 360).

This is the downside of DLC, when game companies hold back features, items, maps and other content that ordinarily would be included, just so they can sell them separately later and squeeze more profit out of gamers. An almost 10% price surcharge on the initial cost of the game just to unlock multiplayer functionality seems rather steep. This is especially true given how online co-op play is already built into the game. While Capcom admits that the “Versus mode makes use of the assets that exist in the game,” it claims the fee is necessary to cover additional development costs for the multiplayer modes. I find this hard to swallow. It seems to me that zombies aren’t the only ones looking to take a bite out of gamers.

I’ve gone on record as being a fan of DLC for games. I think it’s a huge boost for the longevity of games. When done properly, it also allows the consumer to get more out of their initial investment in a game. Numerous games have done great things with it from Rock Band / Guitar Hero‘s weekly new songs to Burnout Paradise‘s seemingly endless updates to GTA IV’s “The Lost & Damned“. If companies are going to purposely short-change the consumer and force them to pay extra for content that should have been included in the initial purchase, I foresee a grim future for the medium.

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