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How Soon Is Too Soon For A Game To Have DLC?

DLC, or Downloadable Content, has become a way of life in this modern age of video gaming.  You buy the game, and then eventually a DLC pack comes out with more characters, more options, some new maps or the like.  It is a great way to add play value to a game and extend its lifespan, but how soon is too soon after launch to release it without it making the consumer feel like its overly obvious you just want more money out of them?

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 launched on Nov. 10th, 2009, and while an eventual new map pack has always been expected, we are just now hearing of a vague release date of “Spring.” The general suspicion has been that this meant April, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet. If the April date is true, it would be six months since the initial release, and that does seem like a fair amount of time, plus I can attest to getting bored with the current selection of maps. It’s time for multiplayer to get some fresh blood.

bioshock2boxHowever, there have bene two very disturbing recent developments in the land of DLC.  There had been some rumblings that racing game Blur might have a DLC pack the day it launched.  This has luckily now proven to be false, but could you imagine plunking down between $50 and $60 on release day just to get home and plunk down another $5 to $8 to get more content for it?  There have been a lot of people who have said that a DLC release too soon after a game comes out just makes them feel ripped off, and that the content was stuff that should have just been included in the game release.  Dropping DLC the same day the game comes out would pretty much cement that argument.

What has proven to be true is that Bioshock 2 is getting a DLC pack on March 11th, a mere 30 days after it hit store shelves. The Sinclair Solutions Test Pack is said to include:

  • Rank Increase to level 50 with Rank Rewards
  • New playable characters Louie McGraff and Oscar Calraca
  • 20 new trials (some only available after a player achieves a rank of 41 or higher)
  • A third weapon upgrade for each weapon
  • Five additional masks (some only available after a player achieves a rank of 41 or higher)

Are you kidding me?  Part of the DLC is that you now get to rank higher?  Seriously?  Let me see if I have this right, a mere 30 days after release, I get to pay you more money just so I can increase my rank?  Can I expect another DLC in April that lets me go to level 60?

To me, 2K Games just made the case for all the critics who say that DLC is stuff left out of the initial release intentionally.  At least with the Modern Warfare 2 map pack, the length of time at least makes you feel like, “Okay, we shipped the game, lets get to work on more content now.”  This Bioshock 2 DLC just makes me feel like someone at the company went, “Hey, cap their levels and lock those two characters down, we’ll unlock them a month later for an extra $5.”

Would you mind at least letting us keep our delusions that some time and thought went into a DLC after the release?  The Bioshock DLC just feels cheap, and quite frankly sours me on the whole franchise.  Perhaps I’m being too harsh, but come on, at least humor me a bit, 2K Games.

What say you?  How soon is too soon for a game to receive DLC?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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