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
  • Great piece Josh! Zelda has such little history in the DLC world so it’s just growing pains from those thumbs-down clickers.

    I know I’ll be waiting to purchase the DLCs because the game by itself looks like it will take a good part of a year to complete if only played at nights/on weekends. Thank you for the information!

    • Josh Pike

      Thanks Alyssa! I’m glad you liked it. I agree with you that it may just be growing pains, but I also think DLC is here to stay so it is a meaningful conversation to have.

  • Benjadowski

    This Josh Pike kid just gave us all something crispy! Also completely agree with him about his DLC opinion!

  • stonedworms

    I don’t mind the idea of DLC as so many developers use it now. What The part that gets me a bit upsetis that many other developers release their DLC with the purchase of the special editions of the game (Call of Duty included their DLC as part of the Digital Deluxe Edition for example) that cost $100. Where I have a problem with Nintendo on this is that the early adopters of the special editions don’t get the DLC as part of their purchase and have to spend an extra $20 on that part of the game/expansions. I don’t need all the extra pieces though it would be nice, but I would very much like to own the DLC. For the grand total of $120 (or higher if you reserved the Master Edition) I just don’t know if it’s worth it. I’ll likely drop it down to the standard version of the game if there are any copies left when I get there on Friday, so that I can purchase the DLC.

    That said, I enjoyed the article, Many valid points were made, but I don’t believe this one was particularly touched on. As Alyssa said, yes, growing pains. The consumer base will come around, but I believe Nintendo handled the announcement poorly as Josh stated.

    • Josh Pike

      I know what you mean. It would be nice to have the DLC bundled in with the special edition. Or just more bundles from Nintendo in general (for example getting all the smash brothers DLC individually was really pricey). Anyway thanks for enjoying the article, I appreciate the feedback!

  • Senorcornez

    “Why should Nintendo be held to higher standard than everyone else?”

    Because it is Nintendo.

    Or rather it was. Now not so much.

  • Irish Ely

    I don’t have a problem with this at all, Nintendo usually does an excellent job with there DLC and they have a reputation of releasing amazing games with DLC as extras (super smash bros, fire emblem awakening) and for only $20 Nintendo seems to be going the right direction with DLC.

  • Shona

    What are you referring to with this comment?

  • Tairon de Oliveira

    Mirrored hard mode?

  • KagatoAsuka

    My main issue with this is locking Hard Mode behind a season pass its such an EA thing to do in fact they did do it multiple times and everyone went crazy but the second Nintendo does it people come out of the woodworks to defend it some even being the same that damned EA or Ubisoft for doing the same thing who were even blaming them and their practices for the downfall of the gaming industry but now its suddenly okay when Nintendo does it..

  • Vladislak

    Really it was just poor timing on the announcement, if they’d waited a few weeks after the game was released to announce it far less people would be freaking out and thinking BotW is an incomplete game without the DLC.

    The fact is that BotW went gold long before the DLC was announced and Bill Trinen stated the DLC is actually still in development (presumably excluding the three treasure chests), so the main game is a finished and complete game and the DLC isn’t content that was made and then cut from the main game to make more money.

    As for the hard mode argument, as I recall the game has already been shown to have a “pro” mode in it’s base game, so there’s already some form of hard mode in the main game. This “new” hard mode could be something completely different for all we know, like Master Quest (which was certainly worth extra cash for those who enjoyed Ocarina of Time).

    All in all I agree with the article, even if they removed the hard mode thing and the day-one three chests, the remainder of the content would still likely be worth more than $20. So I think this was quite the generous price.

    • Josh Pike

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! You also make some very valid points; we had the same thoughts on the announcement timing.

  • Lifeoflink

    I just learned something about the DLC. As many may know, some people some have received a pirated version of the game and are data mining and streaming playthroughs of the complete game. Out of curiosity, I asked a friend to look at all the armor in the game (as that detail has been revealed) and see if there is anything Switch related in it. To my surprise, there wasn’t any. This evidence leads me to believe that the DLC for Breath of the Wild is not cut content from the game as many have feared. It seems that we may get some good, new content.