DLC is a love-hate relationship, more-so one or the other depending on who you are. Remember the good old days when the games we played were the complete package as advertised? There was no catch; there were no optional purchases to be made in order to access DLC, certain items or levels in a game, just a simple cartridge or disc that had everything intended for the game all ready for consumer satisfaction.
Fast-forward to a point in time where console Internet connectivity was introduced and started a revolution in video gaming. The idea that the games you played against your friends in the living room could now be played with anybody in the world by means of Internet connection is simply mind-blowing. While online play was a simple yet infinitely effective game changer (heh), Internet connection also allowed the ability to download, which lead to a very less exciting feature of today’s gaming world, micro-transactions and DLC.
Nowadays, game studios will produce a typical game and release it to the public, like usual. The only difference now is that, based off of the game’s response and reputation, the studio might choose to throw in additional content, regardless of its relevance to the original game. Such content includes costumes, in-game loot, missions, storylines and bosses. With additional content comes additional payment. It’s an exasperating plague on the gaming industry that we all eventually fall prey to, regardless of how much we say we won’t. Some DLC gets you questioning whether the gaming company voraciously withheld certain features of the game knowing they can get people willing to pay to do just that, and I firmly believe that in certain situations, it is the case.
Despite me loving a certain game, once I’m done with its main story, I’m done with it for good; I have no intentions of purchasing extra DLC later on, just for that experience to be over in a shorter amount of time. So you ask yourself, is there any good to the idea of DLC or expansions? It seems like it’s just a headache and rage inducing cash-grab by greedy game developers playing with loyal gamer’s emotions and wallets. And the answer is simply: absolutely, and the reason why is because of RNG.
RNG stands for Random Number Generator, and it basically means that certain parts of a game are determined completely unpredictable, whether it be how an enemy spawns (positioning), what enemy spawns (Pokémon), or just plain dumb luck and chance (slot machines/casino games). It is a speed-runner’s nightmare; it can make or break a potential world record run, but for casual gamers, RNG’s unpredictability results in high fun factor and replay value. And it just so happens, there exists a game that is completely RNG: The Binding of Isaac.
The story is simple: Isaac’s mother is convinced by a Christian television program to murder her child as a sacrifice to prove her love to God (religion LOL), and Isaac manages to escape through the basement, where he has to fight off numerous disturbing enemies with bullet tears. (I swear it’s simple). Now when I say everything about this game is determined by RNG, I’m not over exaggerating. Every map layout, every room, every enemy in every room, every power-up, the bosses you fight, etc. (takes breath); all of it is completely changed every time you start a new game. I have lost track of how many countless hours and days I have played this game straight. Normally, a game would eventually wear thin and I would throw in the towel after some time, but The Binding of Isaac is that rare example that uses complete RNG to manipulate the gamer’s mind into thinking their experience isn’t going stale.
The Binding of Isaac was a huge success, and eventually 3 paid expansions were introduced: The Wrath of the Lamb, Afterbirth, and Rebirth. Every expansion was simply the game throwing in a cluster of new content (bosses and enemies, items and trinkets, levels), and when a game is completely RNG, you can bet anything that expanding it will definitely increase replay value. You’ll want to play the game over and over again to find everything new and try out all the possible combinations and get an overpowered run. To quote the immensely popular (and one of my personal favorites) Doki Doki Literature Club…
In most occasions, I’m usually rolling my eyes at DLC. I’m hardly convinced I should be paying more money for content that could (and should) have been in the initial release, as it is usually just an add-on. It’s only if and when a game is completely determined by RNG, like The Binding of Isaac, that I’m completely sold. Unfortunately, to this day, there really doesn’t exist anything like that outside of Isaac, but I can only hope other gaming companies will start actually responding to Isaac’s critical acclaim and success and make games more RNG based, so that DLC feels justified and not cheap and borderline immoral.