It's in the game!!

Or so Electronic Arts would like you to believe but sadly the truth is getting farther and farther away from that statement in modern gaming.

I fall into the core age bracket for videogamers and I've been into gaming for a looong time. On the older consoles, PS2 and Xbox etc you'd buy your game for £25-£40 and you'd be ready to rock. If you did well in the game you'd unlock other things, characters, in-game items or modes. Nowadays you don't get that value, in fact you just might get double shafted.

Most games cost between £40 and £50 and when you get to the end of the game you can... well you can play it again or if you want some new gameplay elements you can download extra downloadable content (DLC) but most of the time that comes at a price. EA ("It's in the game" is their slogan) have been charging gamers for crazy stuff, uniforms in Madden NFL, game modes etc basically all the extra stuff that we as gamers are used to getting for free. I also read this week that when Capcom release the new version of Street Fighter on the next-gen consoles you'll be able to pay for extra DLC characters. So instead of completing the game to unlock new characters (a staple in beat 'em ups) you'll be able to pay for them. So maybe they should change the EA slogan to "It's on the disc... erm but you have to pay more cash to access it." Hmm, not quite as catchy is it? Ea have also made content available as paid for DLC that you can actually unlock in the game, the thing is they didn't actually tell anyone you could unlock these things for free. If you're wondering what it was it was extra cars in the Need for Speed game.

Some DLC is worth paying for, games like Mass Effect have extra missions that add to the story and you're actually getting a few hours of extra gameplay for your £5 or £10 or the Shivering Isles expansion for Oblivion that cost around £17 but you were actually getting a whole games worth of extra content so it was well worth the money. However DLC like that tends to be the exception to the rule, most of the bite sized "DLC", that's stuff like extra cars in games, characters and modes etc are actually already on the game disc you've bought and the DLC you're actually downloading is just an unlock code, that's right you're not actually downloading any content at all!

Some games are looking to go for the uber package when it comes to DLC. Originally the next iteration of the Gran Turismo franchise was only going to ship with one track and a few cars on the disc, if you wanted the extra tracks or more cars you'd have to buy them all from the Playstation online store. Gran Turismo has always been known for having loads of tracks and literally hundreds of cars, if they came out with a similar amount of paid for content you could be looking at paying £50 for the game then literally hundreds on cars and tracks to use in it. Games like The Godfather actually allowed you to pay real cash for in-game money.

The DLC route has really taken off in Korea but it's not so bad there because the games are free and you only pay for add on DLC if you want it, unfortunately in the west the companies are out to hit us twice. Bastards.

Now don't get me wrong if developers go to the trouble of making new DLC that actually expands the game after the games release then fair enough, charge away. If on the other hand the content was produced as a part of the games normal development and it's already on the disc there's no way they should be charging gamers for it. With so many games today coming with in-game adverts (that's why a lot of your games will auto-update when you turn them on, it's downloading the new as) it makes more sense for the developer to keep you playing to keep those advertising revenue streams open but they want gamers to pay them for the game, the advertisers to pay them for space in their game and then they want you to pay for the DLC, oh and if you want to play your video games online with your 360 you'll also have to pay for a Xbox live gold membership (plus you can pay for extra multiplayer maps). So you could be paying 3 times to get the whole experience. I don't mind advertising in games but they should be passing on the savings but instead games are getting more and more expensive.


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