With the internet and download speeds across the nation rising, the demand for downloadable content rises. We saw, for the first time, Mass Effect 2 debut on the Playstation 3 both in disc form and as a 100% downloadable title. The file size for the complete game was 12GB but despite its very large size the experiment was a success. Does this mean the end of games coming out on disc? Well not yet, there are currently policies in place at Sony where all developers who release a full length game must have a disc release. Since the margins are so thin for retailers, a downloadable only game would cut disc sales making video games not worth selling and the consoles would ultimately have to sell just as many compies online as they would have via a retail release. As of now downloading only wouldn't support the costs of the release but that doesn't stop the games companies from creating extra content after the game is created to make more money off existing franchises.
First, let's examine a full length downloadable title. There isn't much data supporting retail versions of games being available as full downloads but more and more games every month are finding their way from the bargain bins to the console networks. Games like Red Faction: Guerrilla, Infamous and Assassin's Creed 2 can be purchased right now for a price of $29.99. The problem I see with this is $29.99 for a game that is over a year old is way too expensive. You could easily find these games used for half that price. There is really no reason for the added expense especially you consider that the game has no more costs to keep it in the public. All of the advertising dollars are spent and no new copies of the games are being created so Sony and Microsoft could easily sell those games for $9.99 and still make a profit. The only benefit to downloading a full title is in the event of a catastrophe, all the games you purchase can be redownloaded. The problem with that is people's game collections span more than one game and are more often than not more than ten. At 12 GB per game that is a 120 GB download for ten games and that would take a very long time on a fast connection nevermind what it would take on the PSN. As it stands now it just isn't feasible from a technical stand point to start experimenting with downloadable titles of that size. I also highly disagree with the price of these downloads now, especially Mass Effect 2 debuting at full retail price. It just isn't fair to the gamers out there to get ripped off like this and I am shocked th
at people pay those prices for such dated content.
There are other forms of downloadable content other than full titles and that comes in the form of add ons. The add ons released for games now really runs the gammat from quality products to just plain rip offs. Recently retailers have been exploiting this front partnering with the game manufacturers to include retail chain specific content with pre-orders. Most of the time this pre order bonus content is not worth the time that was put in to create it. I can't remember the last time some retailers content added to a game in any significant way. Though this content is not of good quality, at least it does not add to the price. On the other hand more and more game companies are releasing downloadable content for their games. A disturbing trend has been developing more recently where downloadable content is being made available on the release of the game. Why is this bad? It's bad for two reasons. One is that the downloadable content is being planned and created along side the actual game it was meant to support which means that resources that would have normally been put into the game are being divided. This ultimately leads to a longer development cycle and games are slower to come out. The second reason its bad is because the content that is being separated from the game should have been on the disc from the beginning. Luckily this extra content has not interfeared with the completion of a game but even that is starting to change. The most gregarious use of Day 1 DLC was seen in Tiger Woods Golf 12: The Masters in this game there is a single player mode where you are allowed to create a golfer and start a career. The career takes you across many of the courses that were available on the disc. Once you reach a certain point in your career the game will not let you continue unless you have golf courses that are only available as DLC. If you want to continue and not run into this problem again you will have to purchase up to $70 in downloadable content, making you spend more in DLC than you did for the original game. This is really outrageous and gamers everywhere should be upset by this. This will just set the tone for other game companies to start the same practice and make this expensive hobby even more expensive.
I agree that downloadable content could be a good thing. Since we have so many great games to choose from, it is a nice thing to be able to play with familiar characters in a new story. I would even agree that it is good business to keep your franchise alive with DLC so they are always thinking about your game. It is another thing entirely to produce low quality content and rip off the people that supported your game and the worst thing you can do is sell someone an incomplete product under the pretense that it is a full game. I truly hope that the gamers will realize this trend and stop buying this kind of content, only then will we weed out the dishonest publishers.