Breath of the Wild’s controversial DLC: Just how controversial is it?
by on February 27, 2017

DLC, or downloadable content, has long been somewhat controversial in the game industry. It started out as a revolutionary concept, giving developers a chance to deliver quality extra content for the consumer to enjoy long after the game has been released. Since then, some have opted to utilize this new avenue to satisfy their own avarice, milking their customer base for every last penny. However, if done right, it gives consumers a chance to enjoy more of a game that they love while also giving developers a chance to make a little extra money on a project that they have spent years of their life creating. DLC can be valuable for both the developer and consumer.


The Announcement

Nintendo recently announced that there will be a season pass coming to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The announcement video on Nintendo’s YouTube channel shows that fans are largely divided in opinion.

When 41% of your reactions are thumbs downs, you know you’ve riled up the Internet.

Over a 40% ratio for dislikes is the most I have seen since the announcement of Metroid Prime: Federation Force! I was honestly a little shocked at the divisiveness of this announcement among the Nintendo fanbase. Nevertheless, DLC isn’t new. Just about everyone else in the gaming industry has been doing this for years. Microsoft, Sony, EA, Activision, Ubisoft, and others (even Nintendo!) have all been releasing games each year with season passes. This means that a substantial amount of people must be buying them, or they would not keep releasing them. Some franchises, like Call of Duty, have season passes priced at $50 or $60 every year. Many companies, especially mobile developers, try to exploit whales, the small percentage of the player base that spends the vast majority of the money. Why should Nintendo be held to higher standard than everyone else? At the end of the day, Nintendo is a company whose goal is to make money. If there are emerging revenue channels occurring in the industry it only makes sense to capitalize.

The Content

The Breath of the Wild season pass will be $20 and here’s what it includes:

Some fans dislike the presence of day-one DLC, and I share their concerns on the issue. However, the content is is simply aesthetic and it is clear Nintendo did not cut it out content from the main game to sell separately. One of my favorite RPGs last year, Final Fantasy XV, had 16 separate pieces of pre-order DLC and no one batted an eye. For some reason people treat Nintendo differently. In my opinion, DLC is fine if you release a complete and quality product at launch.

The one thing I understand the complaints about is the fact that Hard Mode is locked behind the season pass. Hard Mode usually only involves things like numeric changes to damage or slight redesigns to dungeons, so it should be included in the main game.

That being said, $20 is a justifiable price point. I believe it will likely be worth it for the new story and dungeon alone, given the vast scope of the main game. All of the other content is a fun bonus. In an age where companies are charging $60 for a few new maps, $20 could be spent far worse.

Looking forward

Personally, I think if Nintendo waited until after the game’s launch to announce the season pass then fans would have been more receptive. They would already have the game in their possession and could see the final product firsthand. Most of the marketing for the Switch has been on point, but this one had me scratching my head. That said, just because the announcement had a few naysayers doesn’t mean that the game itself won’t deliver.

According to Aonuma, this game has been in development for four years. I have no doubt that the final product released will be nothing short of excellent. Due to Nintendo’s track record of releasing polished software, I think we owe them the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Even so, many fans, including myself, are concerned about the recent growth of DLC in the gaming industry. The effects of unconstrained DLC practices can be observed in the oversaturated mobile market. It is a delicate balance and is a conversation that will be inevitably prevalent in new releases for the foreseeable future.

I believe the only way to get a company to listen to you is by affecting their sales. Your money is your greatest weapon.

As the young game industry ages, we need more smart consumers to guide it along. If you don’t want to purchase something, that is your prerogative. I encourage you to weigh the facts and make your voice heard by not buying it. It is by this ebb and flow that we progress, and I believe the only way to get a  company to listen to you is by affecting their sales. Your money is your greatest weapon. Vote with your wallet!

A. Reily Oller