Should all DLC be free?

August 25, 2015


Recently the developers of the Witcher series stated that they would like to see free DLC as the industry norm. Now, while this is a sentiment many of us can get behind, we need to look at it realistically. Content needs to be funded somehow, and there are many ways developers can approach this.

Sponsored DLC might leave a icky taste in some peoples mouth, but looking at it from another perspective. It being so superfluous and divisive make it perfect for DLC. Core owners of the game who cant get online wont be missing out on anything mandatory or essential. And people who do choose to partake, are getting a unique addition we wouldn’t see otherwise.

This would open the door for many interesting crossovers also. We have a Transformers themed splatfest in Splatoon coming up soon for example, and the Mercedes Benz DLC in Mario kart was a interesting & harmless addition to say the least.



The two DLC packs for Mario Kart more then doubled the games amount of content. Plus they were phenomenally good value.

Aside from third party’s financing DLC, console exclusive DLC is also a worthwhile approach. This could allow developers to take more advantage of the consoles unique selling points and hardware, or even include characters/levels from first party series.

There are so few console exclusive games coming from third party’s nowadays thanks to rising development costs, and this is a more affordable way of offering unique content.

Timed DLC as we’ve seen with call of duty on Playstation, is a wasted opportunity. Nothing innovative or creative. Just a charmless business decision.


Theres’ a lot of untapped potential in call of duty’s DLC. imagine a cross platform Sony vs Microsoft mode.

On disc DLC is another antagonistic subject, but hear me out.

Charging absurd amounts of money for characters who are already included on the disc at launch is a very slimy move which will never sit well with people. But when content has a staggered release and is free, that can work to serve the game’s longevity.

The amount of content in Splatoon has more then doubled in a short amount of time. And there’s been minimal downloading. This is a good way to keep reeling players back in over a long period of time.


Splatoon also has a collaboration with the squid girl anime upcoming.

The content was fairly anemic at launch (thankfully the single player kept people busy) but this was rectified in a short amount of time, and now the game has more to do then I ever thought possible.

Personally, my favorite type of DLC is one that adds replayabity to existing content. Obviously features like new modes, (see Splatoon’s matchmaking and new match modes) new characters and abilities to use on existing levels, and even patching in multiplayer. A very nice gesture on the developers behalf, because the temptation is always there to save all that goodness for a sequel.

Striking a balance between “why didn’t they put this stuff in at launch” and “shouldn’t they be fixing the glitches instead of trying to sell us more stuff” is a position I don’t envy.

One way of injecting some value into the transaction is physical DLC.

I obviously don’t mean a physical piece of paper with a download code on it. While that is technically physical, it wont look very nice in a display case.

Skylanders and Amiibo would be much more tolerable if they actually contained a substantial amount of data. But their usage has been more fair then not.


The upcoming Skylanders & Amiibo collaboration looks really cool.

The best thing about the physical approach, is that it works on multiple games and platforms. Amiibo are obviously compatible with most first party Nintendo games, and older Skylanders figurines will continue to work on later entries in the series.

Clutter might be a concern, but when has that ever stopped gamers.

Another smart way of rewarding loyal customers is to have DLC unlock content across multiple games. It’s a shame that annual shooters and other series don’t carry their content across each entry. For example, a map pack in call of duty transferring to the next entry.

The sonic 4 series (episodes 1 & 2) have cross game DLC, wherein if you purchase a copy of episode 2 on the same device as 1, you are rewarded episode metal. A stand alone game where you replay through episode 1 as metal sonic. A welcome gesture, and it makes for a good pre-order incentive.

It’s hard to argue against the Witcher devs proclaiming all DLC should be free, but it does seem like they’re pandering. A more nuanced approach is needed considering how rampant greedy DLC is nowadays.

All too often, storefronts are cluttered with useless cosmetics, or neglect patching and glitch stomping instead of gouging the userbase for more short term financial gain instead of long term respect.

There are a wide variety of games which get DLC right, and developers should be standing up and taking notice, and using this fast and still young delivery method to experiment with their games and indulge in crossovers.

On another note, check out the linked video that briefly discusses whether or not DLC is beginning to go too far in regards to what the consumer is offered, on disc DLC and the likes. 


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