I'm a game programmer trying to get into the industry. I'm working on several projects at any given time. I play and review mods all the time because I love to see user made content.
It's time for a brief explanation of the new craze that Valve seems to feel they need to exercise since so many console gamers have come to Steam with the release of Left 4 Dead. Really what I would like to do is first explain what "Downloadable Content" is and kind of explain why companies are now coining it and abusing it as a marketing term. Then explain why I think it's absurd that valve of all people are trying to push support for it in such a rogue market.
The problem started with consoles many years ago. While PC gamers were enjoying custom content with mods for Quake and other games of it's time consoles were just coming into the next gaming revolution with support for TCP/UDP multiplayer and other basic features. As consoles grew, console developers realized that they could limit and monitor what content users were receiving, after all consoles were and still are very closed and limited platforms when it comes to custom content. (Except for a few exceptions such as UT3 for the PS3). So what is downloadable content really? It's anything that people can download over the internet and is independent of who it is created by. It does NOT have to be created by the developers of the game, in fact downloadable content has been available since the beginning of time and there has been FAR more downloadable content by the average joe shmoe than any game company could ever hope to release. It could be a skin, a sound pack, a new level, all the way to a full conversion mod or a no-cd crack. So why is it just now that people are trying to use this new propoganda term and sway their marketing non-sense onto such a free reign market as PC gamers?
DLC and YOU
Well, the problem exists in the fact that DLC has been so successful on the console since companies like Microsoft know they can limit and monitor exactly what the gamers are being fed, they have been forcing console gamers to pay for DLC for years and therefore console gamers have just come to "accept" the fact that new content should simply be paid for. It only makes sense why console games have no mods. Why allow developers to make better mods than the games own developers because they can Charge their users for it? Console gamers are sheep, and they have simply come to accept it. However it's much more complicated when it comes to PC gaming.
You can't just monitor and limit what PC users receive. We've been making and creating this so called, "downloadable content" and distributing it amongst ourselves for years before all these new game companies thought to start requiring you to pay for it. Which means that PC gamers have higher expectations and free downloadable content is simply the norm.
So, my whole point of this is that companies need to stop miss-labeling their products as "Downloadable Content" so they can simply abuse the fact that so many new gamers misinterpret what DLC actually is so they can boost their sales.
Infact The Maw is a prime example of such a company who seeks to abuse the ignorance of the new generation of gamers. If your going to release addons to your game, call it what it is, a new product, addons, an expansion, but don't call it downloadable content. By doing so your giving the word an entirely different notation than what real gamers understand it to be.
Times have Changed (L4D)
The times have changed and prime example of this is back a few months ago, valve announced that Left 4 Dead will "have free downloadable content for it's PC users and XBox users". Ok hold on right there, lets analyze that statement. With that single statement, Valve has changed forever and moved into a new realm of which they can never turn back from again. I hope they realized what a huge decision it was just to add the word free, in that sentence. Most gamers who read it would probably stop, look back and then say to themselves, "Wait, free? Thats kind of repetitive. Of course it's free."
The truth is that Valve only announced "Free" downloadable content because of the Xbox release, and since Xbox users are used to being shafted and forced to pay for DLC they might actually be surprised to look forward to the oasis that is free DLC in a desert of companies who are greedy and couldn't even possibly begin to comprehend how much free DLC can benefit a game and keep it going years after it's release. (Half-life 1, Half-life 2)
Also, even if valve decided to try to charge people for the new content theres nothing they could have done to stop people from decompiling new maps and campaigns and simply recompiling them as free versions. While I wish to make it very clear that I do NOT support this, I'm simply being truthful and explaining what WOULD happen. Infact, a month after release someone had converted the other two campaigns to support versus many months before Valve had. Thats because in the PC world, the users and the community decide how successful the game is, not the suites who run the company who are only interested in how much money they have in their wallet.