Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony have done an amazing job selling downloadable content.
All three companies routinely release download numbers for the extra content that is provided for games. The makers of “Rock Band” claim that 30 million downloadable tracks have been sold. The makers of “Grand Theft Auto IV” and “Fallout 3” released massive episodic downloadable packs to give the games a little extra life.
But I also know that the advertising on downloadable content is working because I look for extra content for every game I play. So do most of my friends.
We have come to expect multiplayer add-ons, extra levels, new music and more from just about every game that comes out. And nearly every new game does offer some form of downloadable content to offer.
But should I expect extras from games? Shouldn’t developers and publishers provide all of the game’s features with the original game?
Obviously downloadable content is a fad of the present and future. It gives publishers additional revenue streams, and often grabs money for content that should have already been in the game.
I think there is definitely a place for downloadable content, but it can’t be for features that we expect to receive.
“Resident Evil 5” and “Left 4 Dead” are provided downloadable content for extra multiplayer modes that should have come with the games — although at least the “Left 4 Dead” content is free.
Other games provide downloadable content in the form of an extra level, something that was likely scrapped during the production of the game. Electronic Arts has charged gamers for extra golf courses in the “Tiger Woods” series.
Rockstar Games gave us a pretty complete game in “Grand Theft Auto IV.” But they had the plan all along of releasing two other episodic packs — the first of which was “The Lost and the Damned.” These episodes were extra, not necessary to the initial game, and “The Lost and the Damned” actually plays like a completely different game.
Downloadable content will become even more prevalent in the future. I just hope developers will use the format to give us content that is truly extra and not something that could have been included on the game that I paid $60 for.