For a series spanning over 20 years of rich history in the gaming industry, sometimes the most obvious of evolutions is something that is becoming a standard in many current games. Downloadable content was initially met with fan outrage as people were worried developers would remove content from a game’s initial release and then charge people more money to get the full game. As time has shown, this is not the case, as DLC has been used to help extended game experiences until the release of a new title. It has almost become like mini-expansion packs, if you will. A thought that crossed my mind when looking at some of Dragon Age: Awakening’s DLC was if the Zelda franchise could benefit from a similar system.
Before we really get any further into this, I do realize that DLC for a Nintendo game just isn’t realistically possible on the Wii. There isn’t enough space available, and even with a few extra gigs of expansion thanks to SD cards it’s still unrealistic. In short, DLC for a Nintendo console game will have to wait until the next console release. Still, does that mean Nintendo should not start planning for such an occasion?
We hear many times over about content that simply didn’t make the cut for a games release, even just within the Zelda franchise. If you remember back, Eiji Aonuma stated that there were 2 dungeons cut from the release of The Wind Waker. Even more was cut from games like Ocarina of Time, and it’s most likely evident to the development team that some dungeon concepts and other content could have been further developed for Twilight Princess. DLC potentially allows content to come to forefront, months later, sometimes a year later. It expands the users experience, and more importantly tides us over until the next game.
Nintendo already offers us things like the Virtual Console and Wii Ware to get new and old games. So, why not use a similar system to offer new content to current games? Imagine a $10 fee for two new optional dungeons for Twilight Princess. Would you not instantly go make that purchase? It’s taking over 4 years to develop Zelda Wii, so you would think mini-releases like that would do well to tide us over. Nintendo makes money, fans have something to do in the old game, and everyone in the end seems to be happy.
There are, of course, major concerns going this route. For starters, the whole concept does encourage developers to really limit the product content to rush it out, knowing they can take their time and release the rest of the content over a time period and thus make even more money for a game that should have been included in the initial price tag. This was always a major concern for DLC, and I would be kidding myself if I said some games did not go that route. However in the larger scheme of things it is simply the best of the best that get it right. Games like Dragon Age come to mind, where the main game feels extremely long and fulfilling, making DLC stuff such as Orlais really be a worthwhile few dollars to get to help extend the game experience.
In short, DLC works, but the developers have to use it correctly. In this I believe we could trust Nintendo. They like to make money. They like to make fans happy. This accomplishes both rather easily. What do you think? Is DLC a realistic option for Zelda down the line?