Downloadable content or DLCs are additional content for already released games. They come in different forms such as additional maps, costumes, characters, weapons, items, and even new game modes. Some DLCs, like the Burial at Sea DLC for BioShock Infinite, add new stories to further enhance the single-player experience. Though there are DLCs that can be downloaded for free, the majority of them come with price tags.
Season Passes, on the other hand, are basically pre-orders to DLCs. Similar to season tickets in the NBA, buying a Season Pass doesn’t come with a full guarantee that you will see a high-quality product. In one rare case, a publisher, whom we’ll simply refer to as “Totally Not Ubisoft” for privacy reasons, even failed to complete their end of the bargain.
Because of the nature of DLCs and Season Passes, many gamers have expressed disgust at them and have resigned to simply ignore them in hopes of getting the message across to publishers and developers. You can’t really blame them, especially with how things are getting out of hand these days (Day One DLCs, anyone?).
One of these days, you’ll probably wake up to a gaming industry where DLCs and Season Passes are beyond incredulous and stupid. Want to open that door in front of you? Buy the DLC first. Want to open the game menu? Sorry, DLC only. Want to touch that plant that has absolutely no bearing on anything in the game? DLC exclusive only. Hey, you never know what kinds of things Electronic Arts and Ubi…err, Totally Not Ubisoft will come up with in the next few years.
However, despite the common sentiment that DLCs and Season Passes (along with micro-transactions) don’t belong in the gaming industry, some gamers are still willing to buy and support them. Yes, there are gamers like that. If nobody ever buys DLCs and Season Passes, publishers would have already kicked them out the door because of lack of profit, right? But why, exactly, do some gamers still support these two controversial features? Well, here are 7 reasons.
1. Season Passes are cheaper
Buying a Season Pass for all future DLCs is cheaper than individually buying DLCs as they arrive. For example, the Star Wars Battlefront Season Pass was priced at $50 back when it was still newly released. The four paid DLC packs that arrived post-release cost $15 each. Meaning, you save $10 if you went for the Season Pass instead.
This is how publishers typically market Season Passes. They offer gamers the chance to save up on a few extra bucks in exchange for blindly trusting them to produce content they have yet to reveal. Gamers don’t know what they’re going to get.
The included DLCs could end up as one of the best deals ever in the history of gaming. But they could also easily wind up as absolute garbage that you’ll wonder why you even bothered to buy the Season Pass. However, for gamers who already plan to buy all DLCs of a new game they really like, even without assurance of their quality, buying a Season Pass is an easy call.
2. Season Pass holders get Early Access to DLCs
This isn’t the case for all DLCs, but another incentive that publishers offer to Season Pass would-be buyers is the privilege to download a future DLC earlier than non-Season Pass holders. The gap isn’t that much, really. Usually, just a week before the DLC officially launches and becomes available to everyone in the neighborhood.
But for some, the chance to play around with new content before everyone else is too good to pass up. YouTubers who upload gameplay videos can also get a kick out of being one of the first few to deliver in-game footage of an incoming DLC.
3. Season Pass holders get exclusive bonuses
Aside from the main DLC package, publishers usually throw in a few extra goodies for Season Pass holders. They give them more than what they paid for by gifting them with bonus rewards and exclusive content. It could be because they feel overwhelmed by the support and want to show their appreciation. Or it could simply be a suggestion from Dave, the office mail delivery guy.
For example, the Rainbow Six Siege Year 2 Season Pass offers additional perks like a 10% discount in the in-game shop and a 5% Renown Boost. Another example is the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Season Pass, which has exclusive rewards in the form of instant 1000 Salvage credits and 10 Rare Supply Drops. In multiplayer games, having these exclusive rewards grant temporary advantages, though not by much.
Again, like with the Early Access privilege, this doesn’t necessarily apply to all. The benefit to this is obvious: Season Pass holders get access to content that nobody else can get their hands on unless they buy their own Season Pass. For some, this is simply too enticing and one of the main reasons why they support Season Passes.
4. DLCs offer normally inaccessible content
Well duh. You can think of DLCs as sort of cheat codes back when Action Replay Codes were the bomb. They give you access to extra items and content that are normally not accessible in-game. But instead of typing in a dizzying array of alphanumeric codes, you type in your credit card details (or whatever it is you use for online transactions) to access them.
Many gamers support DLCs simply because they don’t want to miss out on any content a game has to offer. While some don’t bother coughing up additional money for items they can live without. It’s just a matter of personal preference, really.
5. DLCs help in keeping things fresh
One of the biggest reasons why gamers support DLCs is that they help in either juicing up an already stagnant game or further enhancing the game experience. Those who spend a lot of time in a single game would want a steady supply of new things to tinker with. For example, in first-person shooters, DLC maps or missions give players another area to explore and blow things up. New firearms give players another way to spray enemies with bullets.
In fighting games, alternate costumes give players the illusion that they’re controlling an entirely new character. The same goes for alternate costumes in RPGs, which adds replay value. Some DLC story missions also allow you to see the game story from another angle or learn about a certain character’s tragic past. The bottom line is that DLCs keep you engaged and invested in the game.
They also help in extending a game’s lifespan. Many games these days – except for RPGs – can be finished in less than 20 or 30 hours. For those who mainly play multiplayer, that’s no biggie. But what about those who only play single-player?
6. DLC items sometimes give godly benefits
Though DLCs are entirely optional, there are some goodies that are so drool-worthy that you feel like you have no choice but to buy them. More often than not, these are weapons or items that grant godly bonuses, capable of turning your game into a walk in the park.
Look, not everyone’s up for game challenges. Some simply want to breeze through the game in order to move on to the next game – gamers with backlogs, in other words. In particularly difficult games like Dark Souls III, getting powerful weapons from DLCs is more than welcome. At least gamers can look cool with powerful weapons while unforgiving bosses beat their ass for the 20th time.
However, in competitive multiplayer games, having powerful DLC weapons (or characters) is frowned upon. Because it sort of gives off the feeling that you have to pay in order to have a chance against enemies equipped with said powerful DLC weapons (though you can always beat them with skill). That would make the game similar to those free-to-play MMORPGs where you need to pay up for weapons and gear in order to win in PVP battles.
7. To show support to the developers
Perhaps the most important (but possibly less heralded) reason why gamers support DLCs and Season Passes is to support the developers of the game. Developers, not publishers, because we all know who has the reputation for being greedy between the two. Who knows, maybe publishers are the ones pulling the strings behind curtains, telling developers to intentionally hold out features so they can release them as DLC. Okay, there’s a good chance that’s really the case.
Showing support by buying DLCs and Season Passes is even more important to third-party independent developers who aren’t under the publisher’s regular payroll. They need to make profits, too, in order to fund their future projects. Or to simply feel motivated to continue working on their current game and produce even more post-release content. They need the support more than in-house developers (those owned by the publisher).
So the next time you think about holding out on buying a DLC as a show of rebellion against publishers, think about the developers first. After approximately 30 seconds, then you can decide whether to pay additional money for extra content or not.
Why do gamers hate DLCs and Season Passes?
Let’s take a moment to remember again why gamers hate DLCs and Seasons Passes. Many accuse developers and publishers (mostly the latter) of intentionally leaving out some features and content in order to release them as paid DLCs and rake in more money. That’s the main reason why gamers generally want no part in DLCs. Now, why developers allegedly release content as DLCs when they could have simply included them in the base game is anyone’s guess, though we could speculate on a few reasons.
Developers work on a deadline, and sometimes the time-frame given to them by publishers, who are already counting their profits before the game is even finished, is simply not enough. So they cut out all the unfinished content from the base game. But since they would be turning in extra work to finish said unfinished content, they charge for production costs. Everybody wants to be rewarded for overtime work, right?
The problem is, there are DLCs that are obviously finished when the base game launched. Exhibit A: Day One DLC. This is one of those baffling cases that rile up gamers to no end. Announcing a horde of DLCs before the game is even released could also mean that the supposed extra content is ready for deployment. So why not simply include them in the base game? But as mentioned above, developers probably have their hands tied and are simply taking orders from the publishers to withhold already finished content.
Another reason why gamers don’t like DLCs and Season Passes is that they feel cheated after paying $40-60 for an incomplete game. And in order to get the full experience, they would need to spend another $30-50 on all DLCs. Spending $100 for the full game experience doesn’t seem right, right? If all DLCs are in the same air as The Witcher 3’s Blood and Wine DLC, gamers probably won’t mind spending additional money. Sadly, Blood and Wine is the exception rather than the rule when it comes to DLCs.
And as for Season Passes? Well, things are more straightforward regarding them: publishers are asking you to pay for something that isn’t even there yet. Really, the least they could do is tell gamers exactly what they’re going to get; otherwise, it feels suspiciously like a scam. That way, gamers can decide whether to fork over additional money for future DLCs or not.
The sad news is that it looks like DLCs, Seasons Passes, and microtransactions are here to stay. Now that publishers know how much money they can make by separately releasing bits and pieces of game content, there’s no chance they’re going to stop anytime soon. Unless of course all gamers – as in every single one of them around the world – make a unified stand and refuse to buy DLCs and Season Passes altogether. Which most likely won’t be happening anytime soon, too. Because as detailed above, they do offer enough benefits for some gamers to continue to support them.