In a past article, I had discussed the internal debate that I and many other gamers likely go through when deciding to purchase DLC. Back then, it was, and for the most part still is today, common for developers or publishers to announce their intentions for post-release content. Consumers may not know what exactly that content will look like, but they are still aware that it is coming and can make an informed decision because of it. Sadly, a new trend is starting to become more and more prevalent, where companies are opting to decide whether they will add DLC post-release or are adding content that directly interferes with the single-player campaign. As with most trends involving season passes or DLC, it’s becoming frustrating.
Back in the age where expansion packs were a thing, there was a sort of unwritten code that developers and publishers followed when constructing these additions to their games. For the most part, they all roughly followed the same basic rules:
- Expansion content is not to affect the base game’s single-player campaign.
- If the expansion does have a single-player campaign, it is either:
- The natural progression of the original story.
- It’s own story that is independent of the original campaign.
- If the new content affects any single-player content, it is done outside the campaign or story.
These basic tenents of expansion design for games prevented a few negative things from transpiring. The first is that whatever content was added to the game through the expansion, didn’t devalue the original content. Each would have its own purpose and enjoyment separate from each other (to an extent). The second—and arguably most important—is that by having a design like this, it respects the player’s time. By having an expansion exists somewhat like its own entity (the Dawn of War series does a great job at this), it creates an environment where the player doesn’t feel like their time is being wasted if they play the game without the additional content. If I were to play Warcraft III‘s single-player campaign without the Frozen Throne expansion, I can still enjoy the story as the Frozen Throne’s single-player content is a natural progression of the original story. The expansion doesn’t warp or change the original content in this respect, it creates its own by moving forward and then proceeds to introduce its new content.
But these new post-release season passes or DLC doesn’t follow these old rules and instead opt to insert themselves where they see fit and at any point past release.
Take the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which originally released in March 2017 alongside the Nintendo Switch. The main portion of DLC, The Champions Ballad, provided a significant story side quest that directly interferes with the middle of the game. If you want access to the new dungeons and the additional story content regarding the champions, you will need the DLC. This on its own isn’t an issue, but its the fact that it requires the player, who may have already completed the game at this point, to go back and do something that they likely have already naturally passed. To have such content after the fact, past the point where the players are likely the most interested, is simply frustrating as a gamer.
If I am going to put in the time to play the game, I don’t wish for the future content that is announced or soon-to-be-announced to add content in a place I may have already passed. I want my time valued and I want to enjoy the complete package if that content happens during the base game. If new content is going to be added, make sure it takes place after the main story or is a separate story entirely that doesn’t impact the original. Introducing additional content like this respects a player’s time and money. It allows one to choose if they desire the content or not, and regardless of how they decide, there won’t be the feeling of playing an inferior product without the content.