DLC, for better or worse, is here to stay. It used to be a pretty dirty word, but after some time it seems most companies have figured out how to make DLC attractive to gamers. Then again, we now have season passes that usually allow us to have access to DLC as well as a small discount on it. There is also always just waiting around for the Game of the Year version to arrive as those almost always include all the DLC. Yeah, I’m looking at you Borderlands: The Handsome Collection.
The other day some friends were chatting about when is it appropriate to release DLC. I agree that day-one DLC is rubbish. I get that the game has to be sent off for pressing, and development can continue on new content. Yet, day-one DLC feels more like it should be a patch than anything else. Let’s face it, we are all pretty used to day-one patches now.
Now if you wait for months to release DLC, most gamers have moved on to other game. Well, unless it’s a shooter, MOBA, fighting game, or MMO of some sort. For single-player games, there is certainly a window to keep gamers engaged with the game. For example, I loved Horizon Zero Dawn. I really wanted more content for that game as there really isn’t a lot of replayability there. DLC right now would be great as my interest in the game still exists. Yet, if new content isn’t released for a few more months, I’ll have moved on to something new and the new content might interest me, but it won’t be a day one purchase. Then again, I might never buy the new content as the game just isn’t on my interest list anymore.
So where is the sweet spot when it comes to releasing DLC? I’d argue that it depends on the game. Games with heavy multiplayer components can generally go a few months before releasing more content. The same applies to fighting games. A single-player game really can’t go that long. Maybe two or three months tops. Anything after that and most people have moved on to some form of new hotness.
DLC is a great thing when executed well. It adds more content, keeps gamers engaged with the title, and often closes out various aspects of the story. However, if that content doesn’t arrive at an appropriate time, it either comes across as a cash grab or too little too late.
We gamers are certainly a finicky bunch.