I personally don’t like the phrase “stand-alone DLC”. Not because of the actual meaning of it, but because I think there’s a negative stigma that surrounds it.
I’ll begin this topic by talking a little bit about Horizon: Zero Dawn. Pretty much everyone and their grandmas (not literal) loved this first-party PlayStation exclusive. I reviewed the game and couldn’t believe how much the game achieved — it’s easily my GOTY thus far. Anyway, much to my surprise, when Guerrilla Games announced sales numbers for the title, they also confirmed the studio is working on single-player DLC for it. However, do we really need single-player DLC anymore? Will it begin as a smaller project and then blossom into a larger experience similar to Uncharted: The Lost Legacy?
Lately, every Sony first-party studio’s downloadable content slowly turns into standalone games. Look at The Last of Us’ first and only single-player DLC, “Left Behind”. The DLC began as a traditional add-on for The Last of Us, meaning you must have owned The Last of Us in order to play Left Behind. However, a year later when The Last of Us Remastered launched on PlayStation 4, Sony/Naughty Dog decided to release Left Behind as a standalone game on both PS3 and PS4. It made sense, what if someone played The Last of Us on PS3, but not Left Behind? Now they had the opportunity of playing it, and at the cheap price of $9.99USD. When Sony did this however, it started a trend.
Chain of Events
After The Last of Us/Left Behind scenario, things started to change. In my opinion, Sony started marketing some of their best games as less-than worthwhile experiences compared to their other first-party titles. I think calling a game “standalone DLC” sells it short. Why was Uncharted: The Lost Legacy considered stand-alone DLC for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and not just the next mainline Uncharted game? From all we’ve seen the two games have very little to do with one another, aside from Nadine and Chloe making a return in it. Luckily, in this case, Naughty Dog stated that the game began as DLC for Uncharted 4, but accidentally became a full-fledge Uncharted title. Unfortunately though, the general consensus is still that the game is DLC for Uncharted 4, which obviously sells it short.
I think one of the most frustrating things is you rarely see stand-alone DLC on exclusives games lists, and especially not GOTY lists, which I find kind of insane. Let’s be honest, even though Infamous: First Light was stand-alone DLC, it was much more of a solid game (in many way) than The Order: 1886 — and only ? the price!
Check out this list of some Sony first-party exclusives over the past three years and see what could have been.
Killzone: Shadowfall Intercept
Infamous: Second Son
Infamous: First Light
The Last of Us
The Last of Us: Left Behind
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted: The Lost legacy
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Horizon: Zero Dawn DLC
By separating these six games from there standalone DLC counterparts, you get 6 full-fledge AAA games, and six more ‘budget AAA’ games similar to Ratchet & Clank that launched at $40 on PS4. Imagine if Sony marketed these smaller AAA titles like they did with the larger ones, or like Ratchet & Clank. Suddenly six major exclusives turns into twelve.
They did do some some stuff I appreciated like launching Infamous: First Light with a retail version, as well as the upcoming Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Like I said, Sony is pushing The Lost Legacy as a full-on new Uncharted (finally) — although, I get the sense that they started that a bit late.
Take everything I say with a grain of salt if you want, I wouldn’t blame you. I don’t claim to be an expert on marketing, but I hate seeing great games like The Last of Us: Left Behind and Infamous: First Light being looked at as nothing more than add-ons for the real games. They definitely don’t need a base-game to shine on their own.
I’m curious what you think about all of this. How do you feel about the phrase ‘stand-alone DLC/expansion’? Do you think it has a subtle negative stigma that surrounds it? Would you rather all ambitious DLC to just be new games? Completely disagree with me? Let’s have a positive discussion in the comments!
Brett Medlock is one of our leads on video production here at Enthusiast Gaming. He’s obsessed with action-adventure games, platinum trophies, and K-pop. To hear more about how lame he is, follow him on Twitter @brettnll