Lunchtime Discussion: DLC Pricing

Remember when if you wanted extra content for a game you went and bought an expansion? I distinctly remember the excitement I felt when I finally managed to track down a bundle of the Total Annihilation expansions and installing them onto my computer for a few extra missions. I also have very fond memories of swapping out the disk on my treasured PlayStation so I could wreak havoc over the streets of London in GTA: London (yes, yes I was far too young to be playing it, my parents pretty much ignored age ratings).

Now things are much simpler of course. No spending hours tracking down expansion packs or swapping out disks to get your hands on a new city, you just jump onto the store of your choice and grab whatever new content you want in the form of DLC. Pft, young people these days, you don’t know how good you’ve got it.

Of course the biggest issue with DLC seems to be how much it’s worth. Is it worth less if it’s just an unlock code on the disk, even if producing that extra content was budgeted for as premium content? That’s what does seem to be forgotten about unlock codes for disk based content, it may have been produced at the same time as the rest of the content, but the development hours were paid for by expected sales of DLC.

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I don’t think I’ve ever actually purchased a single item of DLC, so it’s hard for me to gauge how much we should be paying for things. What does seem a little weird is the amount of content you can get at a fixed price, say £7.99, varies so much game to game. Some games will give you just a few more characters for that, others will give you new maps or missions.

How much should we be paying though? Is a new character worth more or less than a new car or a new map? Is everything priced too high at the moment?

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59 Comments

  1. The pricing hasn’t really ever been a stand alone issue for me. What annoys me is when you but the game (£40) and buy, say, 2 DLCs at £5 each (£50) and then a year later its all in one for £30. I know games devalue, but Im being generous with the DLC pricing there and that is a huge drop.

    • I think if you look at it as an investment. The developer needs as much money at the beginning of the game’s life cycle as they can get to feed the next thing that they create. Once they’ve reached enough people they can afford to drop the price considerably.

      I think it depends on how much you want to invest in a developer. I buy most PSN games full price because I’m sure they need the money (although Castle Crashers seems a bit much).

  2. Something is only worth what aomeone else is willing to pay for it, whether that be a map pack for MW2 or whether it be shares in IBM

    • And the discussion here is about the general consensus of what people are willing to pay.

      • and the point Im making is that its all relative, you might be willing to pay £5 but I might be happy to pay £10

  3. Young people? You’re still one of the youngest of the TSA staff :-p

  4. Generally speaking, yes, DLC is priced too high. When I think of something like Deathspank being £9.99 it makes four new maps for COD at £7.99 or a T-Shirt for my sackboy at £3 seem pretty ridiculous.
    I’m sure they have researched it but it does seem like more people would buy the DLC if it was cheaper so the overall profit would be the same or higher.

  5. Saying all that, free DLC ftw! :P

  6. Personally, DLC has to be around the £4-£6 mark & has to be pretty sizable for me to even consider it – The trouble is that for around that price you can generally get a decent PSN title, so in my mind I have to weigh up which is better value 9 times out of 10 the better value comes from a whole new game rather than a couple of over priced maps, but it’s all relative to how much enjoyment you personally would get out of the game or add on in question.

    A good example is the Modern Warfare map packs – Completely overpriced in my opinion as I just wouldn’t spend the time on them & get the value for money, but if you are on MW pretty religiously & would get the value for money out of the packs, then it could be seen as a good investment.

    That said, I have seriously been considering the Red Dead bundle DLC for the £8 saving…

    • There’s only so many decent PSN titles you could get, though :P

      • This is true & I have a fair few of the decent ones already, so i am running out of options fast! :)
        The special offers section has been a bit of a gem for me though.

  7. Depends on the value of the particular game to you

    Plenty of people who have no interest in CoD moan that the DLC is over-priced, but didn’t the DLC sell 20m ‘copies’ if so, it would suggest it was well priced and those people have probably gotten hundreds of hours play out of it, so it could be worded as a bargain depending on which side of the fence you sit.

    I don’t have a problem with on the disc unlocks, its not like you were told you were getting it as part of your purchase price.

    I don’t care for character skins, new characters or vehicles they’re all meaningless to me in comparison to actual expansions to the game in the form of additional levels/maps – So they always seem vastly overpriced too me.

    One thing I do hate though is the cheats pack being released during launch week, I don’t object to them after a month or two, or even if they’re offline only during the launch period, but I do object to being thrown into the multiplayer action with people who have paid a couple of quid to unlock new character/vehicle classes.

    I try to equated the price of the DLC to the value I’ll get out of it. A pint costs £3 an is gone in 10mins (as an average, its 5mins at the start of the night and 20mins at the end) a map-pack or new game mode costs about £4 for less popular games and more for popular ones, how does it compare to other forms of entertainment that swallow up money

    A footie ticket is £26 and I’m at the ground for 2 hours, a night out costs considerably more and is only a night’s entertainment, whereas a piece of (non-cosmetic) DLC can last from a couple of hours up to many 10’s of hours, so I’d say it compare favourably to other activities you can do with the same money.

    • I think that applies to gaming in general as a value for money pasttime.

    • Agreed, fella. How much is it worth to you and what’s the value for money you’re getting from it.

      Whilst I don’t like the price difference for DAO: Awakenings (from the PC to the consoles) it was still tremendous value for money if you enjoyed the main title. Twenty odd sheets for a poop-load more game.

      If you feel hard-done-by then don’t buy it. They’ll soon get the message.

      When it comes to hardcore gamers there’s this very strong feeling of “I’m missing out and MUST get that expansion pack”, etc. It’s a shame as it means they’ll keep on charging the prices they currently do. As a whole, we mustn’t complain about prices and then still pick the damn thing up. :-)

      • “As a whole, we mustn’t complain about prices and then still pick the damn thing up”

        Agreed

    • I always find smart-phone app markets have a totally unique ethos about them. You often see apps that cost £1 or £1.50 with comments bemoaning their ‘high’ price. If you dropped that much money down a drain you’d only be sore about it for a couple of hours!

      • It’s a strange one, isn’t it. Angry Birds is a tremendous game irrespective of platform and I’d be happy paying a fiver for it. However, because the momentum of mobile gaming (read: iTunes) has devs plumping for 59p, £1.19, £1.99 as pricing structures that probably cover 70% of all games on the store it seems like we can’t stretch it passed that without inciting a riot. :-\

  8. I think it depends what type of DLC you are talking about really, it’s hard to class. Personally I did not buy any of the Fallout 3 DLC because it was so damn expensive all together. Sony also have a nasty habit of using extremely rediculous priocing for the DLC on PSN as far as full games go. I mean the 3 most recent Harry Potter games are all 15.99 despite them beign released years apart. How does that work. For full games i expect to have to pay more but still less so than a physical copy which isn’t the case, and I expect prices to be staggared with age, which so far, on PSN at least they do not seem to be. For game add ons I think they should consider how big it is or how many they plan on having. 4 pieces of DLC at 7.99 each is gonna put a lot of people off, you are virtually buying a second game , which a lot of people will probably opt to do instead.

    The point of DLC is also made a little fuzzier by the iminent arrival of GOTY editions of games, personally I feel waiting 6 months more (which at the moment does not pose a problem for me) to get the full game and all the DLC for 35-40 is much more favourable than paying the same at release then more for the DLC on top. For instance I know i’ll be buying the GOTY edition of Fallout 3 (and new vegas probably), Assassin’s Creed 2 (and brotherhood probably) and Resident Evil 5 next year.

  9. DLC is worth what people are willing to pay, cliche? I bought every single DLC that ever was released for Burnout Paradise, knowing that it was overpriced (apart from Big Surf Island..good value), but I didn’t care, I wanted it, so paid the inflated prices for special car packs and the like.
    On that note though Criterion were very generous with the original free DLC ie. bikes, online challenges etc… so there is some leveling of the prices for the later stuff in a way.

    • I bought the Burnout Paradise DLC even though I thought it was a bit overprices and I didn’t think I’d play with it that much because they were so generous with the original free support. Similarly, I cancelled my GT5 preorder and changed it to Need for Speed because I’ll only ever scratch the surface of the first game and I know these guys will do their best to keep me interested with the second.

  10. Totally agree with BrendanCalls that it’s worth what you’re willing to pay for it so is very subjective. Personally I have some issues with all DLC as like to have the opportunity (though don’t always do so) to sell a game on when I’ve completed it and with DLC this is obviously a no-go.

    I really don’t like DLC that (arguably) doesn’t enhance the game experience / provide any further longevity (such as character skins) if you have to pay for it though think map / level packs can bring new life to games you’re getting tired of.

    MW2 is a good example of DLC that I feel is overpriced as if you paid the RRP for the game (I know no-one did but in theory) and then c £20 for 2 map packs (which featured several reimagined maps from previous games) then you’re paying upwards of £75 for a game and DLC. This strikes me solely as Activision hiking the price up and people paying for it anyway (they are a business after all so you can’t really blame them) but for those reasons I didn’t get the map packs.

    Overall I’m not big into DLC but this is mainly due to the sell-on factor or lack thereof but I have no problem with it in principle as it’s horses for courses (unless said horse is covered in very expensive, pointless, armour:))

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