Downloadable Content (DLC) has been a touchy subject these past couple of years. With the rise of pre-order content and timed exclusivity, it comes across to the consumer that the goal is to get your money rather than improve your experience. It seems too often that gamers are left feeling that they received an incomplete game so developers and publishers can nickel and dime them for the rest of the content. Micro-transactions and DLC that give you access to content you already have is beginning to leave an increasingly bad taste in the mouths of consumers. I always find myself hard pressed to come out of my wallet for these tiny expansions because I can’t help but view them as a cheap cash-grab.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some solid DLC’s out there that are more than worth their price tag. But the fact that pretty much every game comes with a $60 cost makes it hard to willingly add to that bill. And the constant reminders in the back of my head assured that I would be afraid of just purchasing any expansion. Having to hold onto my copy of Darksiders 2 in order to purchase a DLC that lasted only 30 minutes wasn’t a pleasant experience. But then there is standalone DLC and most of my fears are put to rest.
Standalone DLC, by their very nature, are a much different beast from the standard fare. The main reason for this is the fact that they don’t require you to own any particular game, you can play the expansion to a game that you don’t necessarily own. At first this may seem like a strange idea, you may wonder why would they allow you to purchase a “piece” of a video game that you haven’t paid for yet? The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
Untying DLC from the title it’s building on benefits both the consumer and and the developers. For the gamer it allows you to access a title at a much lower cost for entry. Since standard DLC requires the main game, expansions become a rather expensive affair sometimes minimizing the audience. The absence of this requirement tends to give standalone content two potential advantages to the player. The consumer can view it as a demo of sorts. They can pay a substantially lower price than the main title, usually in the range of $10-$20, to get a solid feel of what it would feel like and still have a really fun experience.
On the other hand, for those who like to trade their games in, you can buy the main game, enjoy it, and part ways with it and still be able to experience the expansion. Games like Rage did it horribly wrong expecting players to hold onto a game for over a year before they released their add on content, The Scorchers. I honestly don’t know too many people who keep games on hand for so long. With the huge availability of trade in offers on new titles it’s a bit mind boggling to even expect it. For developers, standalone content helps to get their big titles out there at affordable costs without removing any of the potential avenues for gamers on a budget.