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Article27th Aug 2014

DLC WTF

The majority of games that come out these days - specifically AAA titles - have a host of DLC usually available within a few months (sometimes a few minutes) of a game going on sale. Multiplayer skins, extra levels, new players, some vehicles... It varies from title to title what will be released. One thing you can be sure of - the bigger in megabytes it is to download, the more it will cost you.

I'll use Saints Row IV as an example. Months after release, it received an extra three story missions, then a few months later three more. These were not requirements to enjoy the main game, but they extended the play time by bringing me back to it even after I had finished. I stopped playing GTA V to go back to Saints Row IV, even playing for a while past the storyline as there were also new side missions included.

DLC article

The second one was The Saints Save Christmas - released near Christmas. This makes sense to not include it in the base game, as a summer game would get blasted for having some holiday cheer. However, those two were not the only DLC released. A ton of costumes and weapons were also released in tiny packs, each costing a couple of quid. If you really wanted The President to be dressed in leather chaps and a ten-gallon hat, you had the option to pay for the Western pack. Given the amount of choice in the game, these packs really didn't add anything, so were basically The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion's horse armour at a more reasonable price. One was even a swipe at GTA V, calling it GAT V and releasing it on the same day as GTA V. It gave players two sets of clothes, based on series favourite character Johnny Gat and two weapons, and was available on PC the same day. Unlike the actual GTA V which still has no firm release date for PC. This is DLC done right.

There are games that aren't as generous with their DLC. Assassin's Creed II literally had the characters tell you some sections were missing, until you purchased the Sequence 12 & 13 DLC’s. Assassin's Creed III was more reasonable, with the Tyranny of King Washington DLC being a part of an imagined sequence and being separate from the main game. However I still haven't played an Assassin's Creed title since II, solely due to it trying to force me to pay extra for the main storyline. It's like paying £9.99 for a hardback book and having to pay another £1.80 for a missing middle chapter - that book publisher would be bankrupt before it sold another title.

GAT V DLC Items

With titles that have annual updates, such as Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty, the DLC needs to be worth the price being asked - especially since the game itself is always on the high end of pricing. It costs a company plenty to get a single multiplayer map created, but there's no reason to charge £34.99 for a four map pack Call of Duty: Ghosts Season Pass. That’s £2.91 per map, less if you include the skins, etc also in the season pass. Call of Duty: Ghosts has literally made Activision over a billion dollars across four consoles  - and the majority of gamers will play online and feel they have to buy the map packs to compete properly. So if each of those billion dollars was spent on a copy of the Gold Edition (the expensive, most recent edition), that would be 20,004,000 copies. That’s £58,211,640 Activision is making per map. Infinity Ward subsists of under 250 employees, meaning that is plenty to pay each one for the hours they put into each map, plus another arse-load of money to pay Activision’s 7,000 employees. For a single map from a single game. Almost sixty million pounds.

Going to Grand Theft Auto V - Rockstar has released six bouts of DLC, introducing new weapons, clothing and vehicles each time. In total they have cost exactly £0 so far, with more DLC coming for the exact same price. Rockstar has under 1,000 employees and with Take-Two Interactive as publishers they have just over 3,000 people pulling a paycheck related to GTA. And yet their earnings are up, whereas Activision’s are down. The two companies don’t pull the same annual figures, but that isn’t the point to this article.

I couldn’t find any earnings figures or employee numbers for Deep Silver, so I can’t guess at how its DLC is doing, but the multiplayer isn’t important for Saints Row IV, which is a single city and no maps like GTA Online. However, one studio releases a few DLC to higher earnings, the other releases a ton to lower. There may not be a direct correlation to the overall finances, but it’s certainly interesting.

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Andrew Duncan – News Specialist
As a wearer of many hats, none are bigger upon Andrew's head than both the Comic book Lover and Gamer ones.

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