There’s a growing trend that is starting to get me a little worried: downloadable content. DLC is both a boon and a bane in my eyes for video games. On one hand DLC can extend the life of a game beyond it’s initial scope usually for a modest price, but it can also alienate a section of the player base if they don’t pick it up (ie. map packs for online games). This alienation isn’t what bugs me though, it’s the feeling that developers are holding back or omitting content that they know they can offer as DLC later down the road.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a design choice running rampant with many developers; nor does it really pertain to every game genre. It just feels like single player narrative games are being stripped down so that content that fleshes out the world can be added later, artificially increasing the price of the game. Moreover we’re starting to see DLC available far closer to the launches of some games which begs the question, “Shouldn’t this content have been included in the price of the game?” Then again, you could make an argument that DLC that comes out months after a game launches runs into the issue of relevance, especially when competing against brand new titles.

So when should DLC be offered? What should the DLC contain to justify it’s existence? These are tough questions and will probably vary on a case by case basis, but how do you justify spending extra money for a game that you’ve already paid for? I can answer this for myself pretty easily: when the value of the DLC outweighs the cost … which is almost never for me.

Now that’s slightly hypocritical coming for me. I play WoW and have been an avid MMO fan since FFXI but the value I get out of WoW greatly outweighs the monthly subscription I pay. But then there is that time when I picked up all of the extra costumes for Street Fighter IV. Ooops! I mean really, I paid for extra costumes?! And they came in multiple packs where if you wanted them all, you had to buy them all.

Outside of the costume purchasing I haven’t purchased DLC for pretty much anything else. Now if I were an avid Halo/FPS fan I’d probably pick up map packs. Those I generally see as being worth their cost, but in Halo’s case, those map packs are made free later on. Spending extra money for an extra “mission” or side-quest isn’t valuable for me. Cosmetic DLC is even worse, but *cough*ahem*cough* sometimes might just a download on my end.

So How do you feel about DLC? What is your measuring stick for determining value vs cost? Have you purchased DLC and then regretted it later on? Or is there DLC on the horizon that you’re itching to buy and download?