The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The evolution of downloadable gaming content

It was not too long ago when you would go out and buy a video game, beat it, and then put it back in its case to collect dust on a shelf. Sure, a quality multiplayer game may have you coming back to it for repeated play, but after a while the game would just feel old. Or a sequel would release, rendering its predecessor obsolete. During this time, it could have been considered crazy to dream about what is being released today.

As the Internet started to expand, video games followed. And as games took to the beloved series of tubes for their multiplayer, the call for game upgrades rose. So game developers started production on what would be coined as downloadable content (DLC). In terms of consoles, DLC was seen as early as Sega’s Dreamcast, though its size was incredibly limited due to a variety of reasons (connection, mostly).

Personal Computers have always had it a little easier than consoles for obvious reasons. One, PCs are able to be upgraded. Second, it is (or was) easier to get a computer online to download game modifications and patches. When the PlayStation 2 arrived without a built-in hard drive, it was not able to be a good host for DLC. That paved the way for the Xbox, with its internal hard drive, to be that host. New maps and other smaller content were released for a variety of games. But Microsoft being Microsoft, they were the first to charge for content via microtransactions. Sony and Nintendo would eventually follow suit.

The issue of microtransactions is another discussion entirely. Throughout this time of DLC, gamers saw plenty of maps for multiplayer, but there wasn’t anything standout. And that takes us into this generation of gaming. Sure, the most common download content still consists of a few new maps. But game developers are finally pushing DLC into its golden stage, in terms of content and price.

Case in point: Fallout 3. Bethesda Game Studios’ post-apocalyptic action RPG received a major boost this Jan. with the release of the Operation: Anchorage DLC. It didn’t add a few new weapons; it added a completely new level, complete with a new map, weapons and missions for $10.

But sometimes, content works just fine, as seen with such games as Rock Band and Burnout Paradise. The latter, a racing game, has seen significant improvement in multiple aspects of the game and plenty of new content, most of which is free. Rock Band (1 and/or 2) could be considered the boss of DLC, as since its release in Nov. 2007, it has release at least three songs every week. So if you are willing to put forth the digital cash, you could have well over 500 songs to play in Rock Band.

However, what may become the new standard has been seen through Rockstar Games and Bethesda. In 2007, Bethesda released the Shivering Isles expansion pack for their hit game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It was relatively small: the expansion gave you 30 more hours of play, which included new voice acting, quests, spells and even a new land. With all that, the entire world of the game could change depending on your decisions.

And more recently, Rockstar released the Lost and the Damned pack for Grand Theft Auto IV. While not offering the same amount of hour-increase as Shivering Isles, the expansion essentially tacks on another game (mixed into the world, of course) the third of the size of GTA IV. So considering GTA IV’s size, you get a full game for your money.

So while prices of content may be a bit of an issue for some (Lost and the Damned sets you back $20; Shivering Isles costs $30), developers are starting to give you more for your dollar. And with that, gamers are getting a lot more complicated, worth-your-time content.

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