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.

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Blog RSS Feed Report abuse Latest Blog: "Downloadable Content" = Marketing Propoganda Term

3 comments by NullSoldier on May 28th, 2009

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 Beginning
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.

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Post comment Comments  (10 - 17 of 17)
Dark3r
Dark3r Aug 18 2009, 7:23am says:

You make good points but also seem quite pretentious.
People who play consoles arnt sheep and companies cannot force anyone to buy downloadable content. Sure DLC has a large influence on multiplayer centric games (map packs, etc) but its totally up to the consumer to decide what they want.

Also, I think there has been shift in the definition of "downloadable content", rather than "mislabelling" as you call it. Downloadable content is content that is downloaded after the intitial purchase. Free or otherwise its still downloadable content. Face it, the industry and consumer base change tastes and values...you cant stop it.

"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."

The users and community decide how successful a game is in any gaming medium and any business product in general. Its not like PC gamers are the "free-thinkers" of the gaming world and its not like console gamers just buy into whatever crap the industry pumps out.

Ive been buying playstations since PS1 (yet Im not a sheep who subconsciously buys anything the console industry throws at me) and have been playing PC since DOOM. There is evidently a lack of mods on consoles since the likes of PS3 dev kits and SDKs are kinda hard to come buy and the internet "portal" for consoles is so tight to protect the target market from a lot of the **** that occurs on PC.

+5 votes     reply to comment
Ryswick17
Ryswick17 Jul 20 2009, 4:44pm says:

I've come across another pokemon mmo, and i thought you may be interested on how they worked around some problems and got everything setup

Pokeglobal.org

+2 votes     reply to comment
Karnak
Karnak Feb 5 2009, 7:45pm says:

I don't understand all the console hate on this website
playing Super Mario World on Super Nintendo is way cooler than playing it on an emulator :P

+4 votes     reply to comment
BoredGunman
BoredGunman Feb 6 2009, 11:30pm replied:

anything playstation 2 and up id say...

0 votes     reply to comment
freredarme
freredarme Jul 1 2008, 1:51pm says:

Hello, french?

+2 votes     reply to comment
NullSoldier Creator
NullSoldier Aug 4 2008, 1:19am replied:

Nope!

+3 votes   reply to comment
jjawinte
jjawinte Sep 16 2009, 3:54pm replied:

You pose a truly compelling and realistic argument re:"Downloadable Content" for PC users.I agree with you in the fact that a PC user has far more freedom in the versatility of the immense choices of the content available considering that anyone with an interest in learning and sharing in any and or all facets of a games customization.It's the perfect platform to learn and experiment for fun,curiosity or to build some portfolio additions in this very competitive market for future work prospects.The possibilities are nearly endless with all the available sources and like minded communities available.

Yes,I have been working in the PC game "industry" for nearly 20 years now and have seen the amazing changes taking place in DLC for some time.I support it in that I view modding as a modern art form and a true form of individualistic expression.( When's the last time you painted a picture? )When a game becomes a popular world wide franchise,modding only serves to support it's continuance as such,(Half Life for example).Works from the developers financial end,no?

Yet I agree with "Dark3r's" response,simply because of the ferocity of the console makers competitiveness,that the free resource tools for which to do conversions/modifications are so rare.Otherwise I believe you would see the same freedoms that we PC gamers enjoy so much.

+2 votes     reply to comment
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