Day-One DLC. What is it? How did it become prominent? and why some gamers are unhappy about it.


Day-one DLC. The beast under the bed of gaming today. Recently it has had gamers up in arms fighting against it, but just what is it?

What is DLC?

DLC refers to the term downloadable content; it’s additional content that is released for an already released videogame. It’s often distributed through the internet by the original developers of a game. It can range from aesthetic outfit changes, to extensive story line and permanent in-game items. DLC can be paid or free. In recent years it has become synonymous to expansion packs and in some cases cosmetic items.

What is Day-One DLC?

Day-one DLC is where a game is announced or released with DLC already available to buy or soon to be available. In some cases it’s characters (like in Street Fighter), maps (as seen in Call of duty: Black Ops 2) or entire expansion packs (such as in Bioshock 2). In some cases this is also connected to needing to pre-order games.

So when did this start?

Some of the first DLC was produced for the games Sonic 2 and 3, which turned the games into Sonic & Knuckles. It functioned as both a standalone game but also added to the Sonic 2 and 3 games. Later, Sony and other developers caught on and started adding DLC but for a slightly larger cost. Originally it existed in order to add content to games that had probably already been finished by players but in recent years some see them to be more of a “cash grab”.

What are the pros of DLC?

There are multiple advantages for having DLC in a video game. For example, DLC can extend the life of game of a dying game. DLC can also provide new content, such as new stages, weapons, costumes, characters and new music. As well as extending the life of a video game and including new content, it can also increase the player base, bringing in new players and increasing income from sales. DLC can also be free which means players won’t need to worry about missing out. And finally, DLC can be downloaded from home which means players don’t need to go out to buy new games or content.

What are examples of good DLC?

Some of the best DLC produced has come from the Borderlands franchise; Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep among the best of them. Based on the popular tabletop game Dungeons and Dragons (called Bunkers and Badasses in the DLC), this DLC boasts a large amount of new enemies, new items to collect, and multiple interesting bosses to encounter. While also adding to the already good story of Borderlands 2 and setting up a potential sequel.

Another example of DLC done right is Nintendo’s Splatoon. This is because it was free and included new gear, new stages, new weapons, new games modes and new music making the game feel new and fresh providing fans with new things to do and share.

What are the cons of DLC?

Although DLC has a lot of advantages, there are a few cons too. DLC is usually expensive and it’s argued that this is not fair, having to pay extra for a game which were already expensive to purchase. The pressure on parents to buy young gamers DLC is steadily increasing. Clever marketing tactics are being deployed to target young individuals whom are easily influenced. Gamers already pay for monthly passes, which does not always unlock new content, which means even more purchases are required.

What are examples of bad DLC?

One of the best examples of bad DLC is in the game Oblivion, produced by Bethesda. The add-on that allows access to Horse Armour has been heralded as perhaps the worst DLC of all time due to its limited aesthetic and mechanical impact on the game for a relatively high price of £3. This DLC isn’t even in the Game of the Year Edition and is still making Bethesda more money even now, almost 12 years later.

Skyrim, another Bethesda game, had issues. Not with the actual DLC, but with the Dawnguard DLC release to PS3. It came out months later on the PS3 compared to the Xbox and PC, causing outrage in the PlayStation community.

Destiny 2 has recently also been highly slated due to some of the earlier DLC being mediocre for extortionate prices, but also the new DLC Forsaken requiring all of the previous DLC to be installed in order to buy and use it. Another issue is many of the items available being unusable due to random stats.


Well, there we have it. The beast that is Day-One DLC? Tackled. Problem solved? Not really. This way of rolling out additional content and other controversial DLC practices are here to stay, for now. Most game development teams are the small, lean wild child playthings owned and backed by much bigger publishing companies with fewer things than pleasing fans in mind (perhaps rather cynically, mainly just profitability).

While recently developed games like Epic Games’ Fortnite are doing much in travelling in the right direction and doing right by its massive player base.

Game franchises are respected, nay worshipped by dedicated fans worldwide. The least they deserve from these multi-million making publishing machines is a modicum of the same respect they show for you, purchasing each new release of your products and its add-ons religiously. In my not-so-humble opinion, fans of these game franchises are in fact too humble and loyal. Rant. Over.

Written by: Simran Gill, Kinthuran Jeganathan, Darnell Bonner-Ellis and Wayne Gyamfi.