Kevin recently told me that he wrote a blog relating to on-disk DLC and why that is a bad thing. I on the other hand think that it is a good thing in many cases.
But first lets go over how the game production works.
Publishers are not releasing DLC on the disk for genuine bad reasons to take the consumers money and run away with it. Instead they have data that proves that after every passing week, players are less interesting in buying DLC for the game title.
So while they have a huge team working on the core game they normally have a team on the side working to create DLC so that it is ready for launch.
In fact having a team working on DLC while the core game is being made can only make the quality of the DLC better. Since many people don’t understand how games are developed, they don’t understand completely what “On-disk DLC” means. If I were to create a character as a DLC item, I would have to redo all the character and squad selection menus and user interfaces for that character to be available in the main game. So the core team developing the game must prepare for these changes.
Also there are tonnes of games out there to be played. Once we complete our games we normally move onto the next game. We rarely ever hear about DLC, stop playing our current game and go play that DLC. Instead we say, “oh, that looks interesting, once I am done with this game I might check that DLC out.”
Aside from that, the shelf life for software titles is very short. It is better to have the option of DLC if you are an early adopter so you can buy that item while the disk is still in your console. If you are the type of person who buys a game early on, beats it and then trades it in to get the most of your money back then early DLC is geared toward you. EA is notorious for locking out online content for people who buy used copies of their games, forcing them to buy an online pass.
Games also go through a period of certification where once content is released for a console it must be verified. During this period the development team has little to nothing to do. Also if games are focused on a certain release date to maximise profit then their development team would have completed the game early and would also have nothing else to do. During this idle period they are normally commissioned to build DLC while their core title is awaiting certification from the console manufacturer.
Despicable Money Grab
Aside from great content being built that is worth your money to purchase and deliberate publisher tricks for you to but other useless items to get a cheap in-game item.
This is like buying a happy meal to get a gun in Mass Effect. Or buying a new mousepad to unlock a character.
When Assassins Creed Brotherhood came out they had a great Facebook game that you could play before the release of the core game to unlock items in the real game. This was a free social game that had a lot of in game lore and content that was a nice lead into the full game.
When publishers start putting in game items with useless other counterparts is when DLC becomes a useless money grab.
Overall at its core this is discussion is if we either have the DLC on day 1 to play it, or we wait 3-6 months later and end up not playing it at all. In any case, the price of video games have been $60 for several years now. The quality of the games released has significantly increased over the years yet the price has remained the same. If many consumers can afford paying $60 for a AAA title, then $15 extra for some worthwhile content is not a huge deal.
Fallout and Oblivion had amazing DLC that really extended the game and Shivering Isles was more of an expansion then DLC.
I personally don’t have a problem downloading content for a game I really like. With Mass Effect 2, there were several pieces of DLC that released once I finished playing the game that I never got around to playing.