What is “good” DLC?

I recently made a post about Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Sunken King DLC, and the topic of DLC is still fresh on people’s mind’s after the Hyrule Warriors Direct. Many people are complaining that it even has DLC. Well that’s a load of bull. Believe it or not there are good and bad ways to handle DLC.

Note: I will not be discussing the evils and shades of gray involved in Disc Locked Content and Micro-transactions or the stupidity of pre-order digital content here. Those topics require their own posts.

Lets start by addressing what good DLC is. There are a few ways to make a DLC pack good. The key words here are price, nonessential(aesthetic), standalone, and additional. Any combination of these things can make DLC good. I think all of those points are obvious except for “additional” so let me elaborate. When I say additional, I mean that it’s not part of the games complete narrative, such as an add-on scenario. Dark Souls was a complete game in itself, but the Artorias of the Abyss content added to the game without being necessary to complete the experience.

Bad DLC is simply any content that fails to deliver on the aforementioned key words. It’s important to realize that when I say bad, I mean it’s bad from an ethical perspective. Not bad as in crappy content. Horse armor was crappy DLC, but there’s nothing wrong with it. Horse armor was nonessential. Having the ending of FFXIII-2 as paid DLC is an example of ethically bad content. Customers bought the game, give them a complete story.

Nintendo has a brief history of passable DLC that would fall under the “good” category.  Pikmin, Fire Emblem, and New Super Luigi U are all done well, priced reasonably, and don’t detract from the base game. In fact, Nintendo isn’t stingy with their DLC and often gives free content. All of these trends continue with Hyrule Warriors. The Hyrule Warriors DLC we’ve seen up till now has been costume packs, aesthetic changes that have no real bearing on game play, and a FREE Ganon DLC if you register your game early on Club Nintendo, and more FREE costumes if you pre-order from specific retailers.

Why are so many people hating on the Hyrule Warriors DLC then? Put simply, a lot of people are stupid and love to complain in general. Need an example? A Kotaku article by Jason Schreier called the Sonic Lost World pre-order bonus DLC, a free 25 extra lives, the worst and most heinous DLC ever created. Clearly 25 free lives for pre-ordering the game is the true evil here, not locking away parts of a game you already bought behind pay walls. It may be a pretty crappy deal, especially considering how useless life systems have become in recent years, but it’s not ethically bad.

DLC is good if it’s not required to fully experience the game and doesn’t alter the game in a pay-to-win fashion, particularly for online games. Even if it does affect those areas, if it come free then it’s still passable because it’s not a lame attack on consumer wallets.

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