It’s happening. Nintendo is releasing DLC with one of its games. Whether or not this will become commonplace is yet to be seen, but it has been officially announced that Breath of the Wild will have the dreaded and reviled…downloadable content. (Cue clichéd violin-horror music here.) By now, we’re all probably familiar with this practice and the conflicting opinions people have about it. But today, I’m not going to get into a peeved rant about how I feel about this controversial subject. No, in this post, we’re going to have a fair and calm discussion of Breath of the Wild’s recently-announced DLC, and DLC in general.
First of all, the DLC for Nintendo’s newest Zelda game is $20 and will be released in chunks a couple times throughout the year. The video below outlines what those who pay for this DLC can expect, but to summarize, it includes extra treasure chests, hard mode (a more challenging hard mode, I suppose, as people say the main game will already have a hard mode), and a new “story” and dungeon. Honestly, I have no idea if this new story is going to be something substantial or just some extra side quest. All I can say with any decent certainty is that the good stuff won’t be released until the final DLC pack, in winter of this year.
Video from Youtube User: Nintendo UK
Again, I plan to discuss this rather tricky subject as fairly as possible, but that does not mean I will gloss over my opinion on the matter, either. I don’t like DLC. That’s my simple, uncomplicated view on the matter. Games used to be complete from the moment we bought them. We used to spend $50 on games, sometimes less, and we had a complete product right then and there. When DLC is announced, such news has a way of making an originally finished game now feel as if a hole has formed inside it, even if the original game we were promised remains unchanged.
There is one more reason why DLC has always bothered me. I, like a lot of people, don’t like leaving things unfinished. And I don’t like to feel as if I’m missing out on something. When we bought video games in the past, we could say with confidence to our friends that, yes, I have gotten every Power Cell in Jak and Daxter, even the secret one. I am a pro. Yes, I’ve played Ocarina of Time; I’ve played it from start to finish; I’ve beaten Ganondorf and restored peace to Hyrule. And that used to count for something. The act of owning a game, and playing it, and finishing it, was simple back then.
Now, hypothetically, what if DLC is released offering bonus Power Cells in Jak and Daxter and an additional dungeon in Ocarina of Time? Can I no longer say I completed those games? Furthermore, if I don’t buy the DLC for Breath of the Wild, when I’m sitting on my couch someday in the future watching the end credits, can I really consider myself done with the game if a piece of it remains out of my reach behind a $20 wall? It’s a problem I am wrestling with right now, but I hope that I, and you, as well, perhaps, will feel a bit better once we’ve worked this problem out in the following paragraphs.
Okay, so, is Nintendo really doing anything wrong when they decided to offer DLC? When is DLC “bad” and when is it simply…neutral? No one likes buying an unfinished product. I don’t want to buy a sandwich at a cafe, to see the sandwich advertised as a sandwich on the menu, only to pay full price and learn that the bread does not come with it. If I must pay an extra $5 for the bread for my sandwich, I will feel cheated, that something that is righfullly mine, has been practically held for ransom from me. It is the same with video games. And it forces me to ask the important question: when is content being purposely withheld and when is it a bonus that can rightly cost more than the original product?
Going back to my sandwich example, withholding bread in a sandwich would be a dishonest practice. On the other hand, telling me that adding avocado to my turkey sandwich, which never came with it in the first place, will cost me an extra dollar, is not wrong. It is a bonus, so to speak, that I can choose to pay for or not.
With this comparison in mind, let’s look back at the matter of DLC. If a vital part of a game is withheld and locked behind DLC, that is wrong and dishonest, like bread that isn’t included in a sandwich. Even if the company tells us openly that the final boss battle must be bought and paid for, it is wrong that such a thing should be withheld when it is necessary in order to get the full experience. Then again, let’s take Hyrule Warriors, which already has a good number of unique characters available right from the start. Is it wrong to offer additional characters for a price after the game is released? Well, it’s rather frustrating, but it’s not necessarily bad. (Oh, how I wish I could play as Skull Kid. Sniff, sniff, tears.) If we already get our $60 worth from a game, and the developer creates some bonus material a year later, I suppose this content is simply that. A bonus. It is the avocado, if you will. Pay for it if you like, but if you choose not to, you can, technically, rest easy knowing that you still got a full game for the price for which you originally bought it. You got the sandwich you paid for. You just didn’t get the extra heavy mayo and the limited edition cup to go along with it.
DLC can seem greedy, and sometimes, it is. Then again, DLC has only arrived on the scene in recent years because it was never possible before. In years past, consoles couldn’t connect to the Internet (imagine that), so downloading extra content was simply not plausible. So when a game was done, it was done. Even then, similar practices have always been around. Did you know that some of the Gold Skulltulas in Ocarina of Time were impossible to find without first purchasing an optional rumble pack? What about Amiibos? Practices similar to DLC are not new to Nintendo. They’ve been there all along, if you know where to look for it. But do I feel that Ocarina of Time is incomplete without the rumble pack? Do I feel any of my Wii or Wii U games are a shell of what they should be just because I never wanted to pay for any Amiibos? No and no.
And now, back to the original issue at hand, the Breath of the Wild DLC. Am I bothered by the possibility of missing out on something cool if I don’t buy the DLC? Yeah. But I’m also bothered by the fact that I can’t afford a mansion by the sea. That’s life. Do I think Nintendo’s decision to include DLC with Breath of the Wild is a bad idea or some disturbing omen of the future? Absolutely not. It’s bonus content you can pay extra for. I bought the limited edition version of Skyward Sword, which came with a Wii Motion Plus controller and CD. I just don’t choose to buy the Breath of the Wild DLC. The former was worth the money for me. The latter is not. There is nothing shady or immoral in that. We buy what we want, and we don’t buy what we don’t want. And that, dear readers, is the plain and honest truth of it.
What are your thoughts on the Breath of the Wild DLC? Do you plan to buy it? And did my discussion change your opinion on the issue of DLC as a whole? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
Duckloadable Content, Anyone?