Ok, let me start by saying this has nothing to do with Titanfall in particular. It looks like an interesting game. I haven't played the beta. I might buy it when it goes on sale if it gets good reviews and I see some good footage of it. In general I think EA is awful and I don't really care if you think EA has a hand in the development/sale of this game or not. Doesn't really matter anyway for the arguments below:
People keep arguing that DLCs are no different than Expansion Packs of old, and that we should not look upon DLCs with disdain when we have fond memories of games with expansions.
In concept, you guys are right.
Theoretically, a $30 expansion 1 year after release that adds 9 maps and 3 guns is no different than 3 DLCs released in consecutive 4 month intervals after release, costing $10 each, and each containing 3 maps and 1 gun.
The DLC method allows the user extra control over which parts of the game they want to buy, so if they don't like that third gun, they can save 10 bucks and skip it. They also get content more regularly, so the game can potentially "stay fresh" longer. If anything, the DLC method is better, right? After all, expansions only made sense because distributing games used to be a physical affair, and distributing 3 CDs would have cost more than one CD with 3 times as much content.
The problem is, DLCs don't break expansion content and cost into smaller chunks but retain the same content/cost ratios. Instead of breaking a $30/9 map expansion into 3 $10/3 map DLCs, many (not all, but most) developers/publishers pump out 1 gun at a time for 10 bucks a pop, and then sell 3 maps at a time for 20 bucks each. Its the same amount of content, but at 3 times the cost.
Another issue is that in the past, expansion packs would be made a year or two after release, allowing developers to see how the players adapted to the game, and were able to use that information to really target their expansion content. If your game fosters a lot of camping, adding an expansion item that specifically targets campers but is otherwise weak is a lot more interesting than just adding a new sniper that has one less shell in it's mag but does 5% more damage, or some other insignificant and uninteresting variation that is common for modern DLC content that has to be rushed out the door before anyone has a chance to really think about it.
Fragmentation is another huge issue. If a game has one big expansion pack, you either have all the content, or you have half. It is pretty easy to pick servers, play with your friends, etc. Furthermore, because of the slower content release cycle, if players are still playing a game by the time an expansion is released, they probably like the game enough to actually buy the expansion, leaving very very few people without the expansion content. With constant little DLCs, everyone has different content. It makes multiplayer a huge ugly mess. It often reduces the value of a game just as much as it add to it, making the value of the additional content completely moot. Luckily, this particular aspect isn't really an issue in single player at least.
Yet another issue is that the larger nature of expansion packs allowed for better balance and debugging. All the new content was added at once, and all possible interactions between the various bits of new content, as well as their interactions with old content, were immediately visible and could be fixed/balanced as needed. With the constant torrent of tiny DLC content we get in some games, every release breaks something, and development is immediately focused on making the next DLC rather than fixing the issues the last one caused. I love Planetside 2, but every time they release a new weapon, an old one that people may have spent money on suddenly becomes completely worthless forever after, and about a week after release, every new gun gets it's functionality changed in order to "balance" it, causing many people who bought it for a specific role to essentially lose their purchase as well.
"Day 1 DLC" and "on CD locked content" are both absolutely atrocious of course. I don't really think I need to argue those points to anyone. What I will argue is that a lot more DLCs fall into this category than some people seem to believe. Just because it wasn't available on release day, or didn't have it's content already on the CD, doesn't mean it wasn't content cut from the original game. You can bet a lot of DLC content that is released a month or two into a game's life is actually already made and ready and just waiting for that extra month. Sometimes this is a compromise in order to get good ideas into a game that the original budget or time restraints didn't allow for, but more often than not is is a way to charge customers more for the same content that could have and would have been in the original game had it not been lopped off and held ransom. IMO, "season pass" or "premium" packages feel like they at least partially fall into this category. How on earth do they know that there will be exactly x many DLCs, each with exactly y number of weapons/items/maps/game modes, released at exactly z date, if they aren't already mostly done, or at least conceptually done and so easy to code by a certain deadline that they could have reasonably been finished by the game's original release had they spent a little more on development and a little less on marketing the season pass DLCs to begin with?
All of this is made worse by the fact that with the acceptance of tiny, frequent, paid DLC, came the death of modding. Mods often added just as much if not more to a game than an expansion ever could - and for absolutely free. If you had a game you loved but wanted a little variety, you just downloaded a mod. You only bought the expansion if you really really loved the game and the expansion had amazing first party content that was better (or at least significantly better) than what you could get for free. By killing modding, DLCs have become the only way to get new content for games. A mediocre expansion didn't get purchased, but the same content in DLC form will sell, and for twice as much, because it is the only option available. It really hurts the quality of games in general, and is clearly a greedy money grab. The worst part is, you often have to buy these DLCs just to get what should be free bug fixes, often to bugs that wouldn't have even existed in a time when a newly released game was expected to stand on its own rather than simply crawl, crippled and broken, from one DLC update to the next.
Basically, in the past, a game got an expansion if proved to be really successful, and a second expansion if that first expansion really gave player's a lot of value and they were still begging for more. These days, every piece of half baked trash gets a dozen pre-order-able DLCs before they are even released, and is barely playable unless you own all of them. I'm all for additional content to a great game, but it isn't really additional content if you are buying back the missing stolen half of a game before it is even released.
Edited by Zero4549 - 3/6/14 at 11:18pm