For the purposes of these features, "This Generation" refers to software found on the following hardware: Wii, DS/3DS, PSP, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360. Trends found on the PC platform will be addressed but because the demarcations between PC hardware iterations can be foggy, establishing what is of this generation is much more difficult to finalize.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's first stab at downloadable content in 2006 was "horse armour" which spawned a thousand jokes and became the poster child for how not to do downloadable content. It seemed that developers were no longer content with developing a full-fledge expansion pack, standalone or otherwise. Now it was about the nickels and dimes. Or in the case of the horse armour, 200 MS Points (or $2.50)."This Generation" includes major trends or evolutionary notes that will, in this writer's opinion, be identified strongly with this generation of games and hardware for years to come.
|Dead or Alive 5, costumes|
While there are arguments to be made that it wasn't -- some will say it's the "DLC" that actually already resides on the game disc -- Horse Armour seemed to be the low point for DLC (or at the very least a common touchstone). There are still costume packs for games (bikinis, classic "skins"), but a lot of what's now being made available are full-fledged story components.
Rockstar released multiple story add-ons for Grand Theft Auto IV (2008), Red Dead Redemption (2010), and LA Noire (2011), which were only available for purchase through online stores (i.e. digitally) but eventually made their way to retail, usually as part of a "Game of the Year" Edition. Much like the way Alan Wake (2010) provided with the release of the PC version in 2012, which included all the DLC content previously made available on Xbox 360.
Mass Effect 2 (2010) and 3 (2012) had multiple instances of new content available after launch. New cars for Forza Motorsport, Borderlands missions, Gears of War multiplayer maps, etc. These add-ons always seemed to be aimed squarely at the crowd already heavily invested in those franchises.
|Batman: Arkham City had its fair share of DLC skins and|
Less successful, but still an important development, was episodic gaming.
|Half-Life 2: Episode 2|
While Valve Software fumbled badly -- making up for it with their continued support, tinkering, and additional content for Team Fortress 2 (2007) -- the one real success story was Telltale Games.
Telltale Games released a series of games episodically throughout this generation: Sam & Max (multiple seasons), Monkey Island (2009), Jurassic Park (2011), Back to the Future (2010), and the latest, The Walking Dead (2012). Even if the number of success stories is low, Telltale proved it was possible. Not only possible, but actually viable, not only monetarily but a great vehicle to tell good stories and keep players engaged and coming back month after month to play the latest episode.
|The Walking Dead in one of its quieter moments.|
It's just too bad that it's beginnings will be remembered with horse armour.
- Aaron Simmer