In the modern era of video games the ability for games to add content after a release is common place. It comes in the form of DLC. For those not in the know, that stands for downloadable content. It means that after a games release you can purchase additional content in the form of more game, skins, or all sorts of changes that can be done to alter the experience of how the game was originally sold. DLC as a concept is a good thing. Heck, DLC is the exactly the sort of thing that can make a game feel more valuable and draw me further in to it’s ecosystem. Unfortunately, not developer knows how the DLC should be properly leveraged.
DLC in every sense should be an enhancement from the original content not a requirement. Not everyone seems to realize this or even think that is what one wants with DLC. When you are explicitly limiting someone from fully playing your game without having to go through an additional paywall, then you are not giving out DLC. Rather you are restricting your game. That is not a good thing. It is alright when you’re adding additional content that doesn’t inherently impact the game you are playing. Games should not take away it’s features because someone doesn’t purchase DLC.
For example, Mass Effect 3 teeters the line with it’s DLC being vital to the completion of the game. The entire goal in Mass Effect is to reach an ending. You have three potential ends which is dependent on the number of war assets you’ve accrued through the game. The more war assets, the more available endings you have. It is entirely possible, though massively difficult to get all endings without DLC. For a more casual player who just picked up the last one it is damn near impossible without using a guide. However, Bioware released a free DLC that made it easier to reach the three endings, by lowering the required war assets. That is DLC done right. As for the other DLC for the game it added more adventures for potentially more war assets and character interaction, but in no way did my not having the DLC impact the game to the point of being unplayable.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is Destiny. I played the game for a solid two months before I moved on to other games. However, recently I went to pick up the game again and found it near unplayable. Here’s what happened. Destiny released a DLC pack called the Dark Below. In this DLC you received the ability to get new weapons, access to new levels, strikes, and a raid, among other things. I didn’t purchase the DLC. It turns out that not purchasing the DLC crippled my ability to play the game. Previously I could do daily missions and weekly strikes. I could invest some time and go back to my other games. However, after the release of The Dark Below, that ability was stripped from me. Until I decide to pay for The Dark Below features that were previously available to me have been cut off. This also means that if someone wants to purchase Destiny and play it with full functionality, they will need to buy the game and then buy the additional DLC, just to play the game as it should be.
DLC should not be a requirement to play a game as it was intended. DLC should not take away previously available play options as punishment for not purchasing it.