Downloadable content
Downloadable content is official additional content for a video game distributed through the Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

. Downloadable content can be of several types, ranging from a single in-game outfit to an entirely new, extensive storyline, similarly to an expansion pack
Expansion pack
An expansion pack, expansion set, or supplement is an addition to an existing role-playing game, tabletop game or video game. These add-ons usually add new game areas, weapons, objects, and/or an extended storyline to a complete and already released game...

. As such, DLC may add new game modes, objects, levels, challenges, etc. to a complete and already released game. In the case of episodic video games, a new episode may come in the form of downloadable content, whereas music video game
Music video game
A music video game, also commonly known as a music game, is a video game where the gameplay is meaningfully and often almost entirely oriented around the player's interactions with a musical score or individual songs...

s utilize this media to offer new songs for the players. Downloadable content became prevalent in the 21st century, and especially with the proliferation of Internet-enabled, sixth-generation video game consoles
History of video game consoles (sixth generation)
The sixth-generation era refers to the computer and video games, video game consoles, and video game handhelds available at the turn of the 21st century. Platforms of the sixth generation include the Sega Dreamcast, Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Microsoft Xbox...

. Special edition
Special edition
The terms special edition, limited edition and variants such as deluxe edition, collector's edition and others, are used as a marketing incentive for various kinds of products, originally published products related to the arts, such as books, prints or recorded music and films, but now including...

 re-releases of games often incorporate previously released DLCs along with the main title in a single package. Video game publisher
Video game publisher
A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that they have either developed internally or have had developed by a video game developer....

s sometimes offer a DLC "season pass", which allow users to purchase all of the downloadable content for a video game at a smaller price than it would cost to buy each one separately. Users can also buy such a season pass before the availability of its respective DLCs; in this case, the player will get access to the content as they get released.

Precursors to DLC

The earliest form of digital distribution in video games was the Atari 2600's GameLine
The CVC GameLine was a cartridge for the Atari 2600 which could download games using a telephone line.In the early 1980s a cable pioneer named William von Meister was looking for a way to use his innovative modem transmission technology, recently acquired in ill-fated attempts of sending music to...

 service, which allowed users to download games using a telephone line. A similar service, Sega Channel
Sega Channel
Sega Channel was a project developed by Sega for the 16-bit Sega Mega Drive/Genesis console. Starting in December 1994, Sega Channel service was provided to the public by Time Warner Cable and TCI, which later was acquired by AT&T during its cable acquisition spree that formed AT&T...

, allowed for the downloading of games to the Sega Genesis over a cable
Cable television
Cable television is a system of providing television programs to consumers via radio frequency signals transmitted to televisions through coaxial cables or digital light pulses through fixed optical fibers located on the subscriber's property, much like the over-the-air method used in traditional...


While the GameLine and Sega Channel services allowed for the distribution of entire titles, they did not offer Downloadable Content for existing titles. Perhaps the closest the services came to offering true DLC was Shiny Entertainment's special edition of Earthworm Jim offered over the Sega Channel, though it too was still a stand-alone download.

On personal computers

As the popularity and speed of internet connections rose, so did the popularity of using the internet for digital distribution of media. User-created game mods
Mod (computer gaming)
Mod or modification is a term generally applied to personal computer games , especially first-person shooters, role-playing games and real-time strategy games. Mods are made by the general public or a developer, and can be entirely new games in themselves, but mods are not standalone software and...

 and maps
Level (computer and video games)
A level, map, area, or world in a video game is the total space available to the player during the course of completing a discrete objective...

 were distributed exclusively online, as they were mainly created by people without the infrastructure capable of distributing the content through physical media.

The majority of such content was available for free, and the phrase "downloadable content" is rarely used to refer to such content, instead being termed "user-created content" and or "mods", for example, the Spring game engine has many downloadable content under both free and proprietary licenses.

On consoles

The Dreamcast was the first console to feature online support as a standard; DLC was available, though limited in size due to the narrowband connection and the size limitations of a memory card. These online features were still considered a breakthrough in video games, but the competing PlayStation 2
PlayStation 2
The PlayStation 2 is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Sony as part of the PlayStation series. Its development was announced in March 1999 and it was first released on March 4, 2000, in Japan...

 did not ship with a built-in network adapter.

With the advent of the Xbox
The Xbox is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Microsoft. It was released on November 15, 2001 in North America, February 22, 2002 in Japan, and March 14, 2002 in Australia and Europe and is the predecessor to the Xbox 360. It was Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console...

, Microsoft was the second company to implement downloadable content. Many original Xbox Live
Xbox Live
Xbox Live is an online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service created and operated by Microsoft Corporation. It is currently the only online gaming service on consoles that charges users a fee to play multiplayer gaming. It was first made available to the Xbox system in 2002...

 titles, including Splinter Cell
Splinter Cell
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell is a series of stealth video games, the first of which was released in 2002, and their tie-in novels. The protagonist, Sam Fisher, is presented as a highly-trained agent of a fictional black-ops sub-division within the NSA, dubbed "Third Echelon"...

, Halo 2
Halo 2
Halo 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie Studios. Released for the Xbox video game console on November 9, 2004, the game is the second installment in the Halo franchise and the sequel to 2001's critically acclaimed Halo: Combat Evolved...

, and Ninja Gaiden, offered varying amounts of extra content, available for download through the Xbox Live service. Most of this content, with the notable exception of content for Microsoft-published titles, was available for free.

Microsoft was the first company to charge for downloadable content, with the 2002 video game Mech Assault.

With the Xbox 360
Xbox 360
The Xbox 360 is the second video game console produced by Microsoft and the successor to the Xbox. The Xbox 360 competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles...

, Microsoft integrated downloadable content more fully into their console, devoting an entire section of the console's user interface to the Xbox Live Marketplace
Xbox Live Marketplace
The Xbox Live Marketplace is a virtual market designed for Microsoft's Xbox 360 console that allows Xbox Live members to download purchased or promotional content...

. They also removed the need for credit card
Credit card
A credit card is a small plastic card issued to users as a system of payment. It allows its holder to buy goods and services based on the holder's promise to pay for these goods and services...

s by implementing their own Microsoft Points
Microsoft Points
Microsoft Points are the currency of the Xbox Live Marketplace, Games for Windows - Live Marketplace, Windows Live Gallery, and Zune online stores. The points allow users to purchase content without a credit card and to reduce the number of small credit card transaction fees, which Microsoft would...

 currency, a strategy that would be adopted by Nintendo with Wii Points
Wii Points
Nintendo Points are a currency that Nintendo uses for its Wii and Nintendo DSi systems through the Wii Shop Channel and Nintendo DSi Shop respectively...

 and Sony
, commonly referred to as Sony, is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan and the world's fifth largest media conglomerate measured by revenues....

 with the PlayStation Network Card.

Sony adopted much of the Xbox Live Marketplace's features into their downloadable hub, the PlayStation Store. With Gran Turismo HD, Sony planned an entirely barebones title, with the idea of requiring the bulk of the content to be purchased separately via many separate online microtransactions. The project was later canceled. Nintendo
is a multinational corporation located in Kyoto, Japan. Founded on September 23, 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi, it produced handmade hanafuda cards. By 1963, the company had tried several small niche businesses, such as a cab company and a love hotel....

 has featured a sparser amount of downloadable content on their Wii Shop Channel
Wii Shop Channel
The Wii Shop Channel is an online shop for the Wii video game console that allows users to download Virtual Console and WiiWare games, and new channels. Downloading may require redeeming Wii Points. The channel launched with Wii on November 19, 2006...

, the bulk of which is accounted for by digital distribution of emulated
Video game console emulator
A video game console emulator is a program that allows a computer or modern console to emulate a different video game console's behavior. Emulators are most often used to play older video games on personal computers and modern video game consoles, but they are also used to play games translated...

 Nintendo titles from previous generations
History of video games
The history of video games goes as far back as the 1940s, when in 1947 Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr. and Estle Ray Mann filed a United States patent request for an invention they described as a "cathode ray tube amusement device." Video gaming would not reach mainstream popularity until the 1970s and...


Music video game
Music video game
A music video game, also commonly known as a music game, is a video game where the gameplay is meaningfully and often almost entirely oriented around the player's interactions with a musical score or individual songs...

s such as Guitar Hero
Guitar Hero
Guitar Hero is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems and published by RedOctane for the PlayStation 2 video game console. It is the first entry in the Guitar Hero series. Guitar Hero was released on November 8, 2005 in North America, April 7, 2006 in Europe and June 15, 2006 in...

and Rock Band have taken significant advantage of downloadable content. Harmonix claimed that Guitar Hero II would feature "more online content than anyone has ever seen in a game to this date." Rock Band features the largest number of downloadable items of any console video game, with a steady number of new songs being added weekly. Acquiring all the downloadable content for Rock Band would cost at least $2000.

On handhelds

Through use of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
The is an online multiplayer gaming service run by Nintendo to provide free online play in compatible Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS and Wii games. The service includes the company's Wii Shop Channel, DSi Shop, and Nintendo eShop game download services...

 users can download DLC to the Nintendo DS handheld for certain games. A good example is Picross DS
Picross DS
is a puzzle video game developed by Jupiter and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS handheld video game console. It is the second Picross game to be released by Nintendo in Europe and North America after Mario's Picross suffered a commercial failure in regions outside Japan, where many...

, in which users can download puzzle 'packs' of classic puzzles from previous Picross games (such as Mario's Picross
Mario's Picross
is the first in a series of Mario themed Picross titles released in the 1990s. It is a collection of nonogram logic puzzles involving a grid with numbers for every row and column, which refer to the amount of marked squares within the grid. The game features Mario as an archaeologist who chisels...

) as well as downloadable user generated content. Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Professor Layton and the Curious Village, released in Japan as , is a puzzle adventure video game for the Nintendo DS system. It was developed by Level-5, and published by Level-5 within Japan and Nintendo internationally. It was released in Japan during 2007, and in PAL regions and North America a...

 was thought to have 'bonus puzzles' that can be 'downloaded' using the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, however connecting to Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection simply unlocked the puzzles which were already stored in the game. Similarly, Moero! Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2
Moero! Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2
is a rhythm video game developed by iNiS and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS handheld video game console. It is the third game to use its gameplay, and is the sequel to Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan while incorporating many of the improvements in gameplay made in Elite Beat Agents...

 had hidden costumes that were unlocked using DS Download Stations for a limited time.

Due to the Nintendo DS's use of cartridges and lack of a hard drive there is limited space for DLC and developers would have to plan for storage space on the cartridge. Picross DS itself only has room for 10 puzzle packs, and Professor Layton's and Ouendan 2's DLC is already on the cartridge and is simply unlocked with a weekly code.

The Nintendo DS's downloadable content is distinct as it is currently being offered at no cost. However, the Nintendo DSi
Nintendo DSi
The is a handheld game system created by Nintendo and launched in 2008 and 2009 in Japan, North America, PAL territories, and other regions. It is the third iteration of the Nintendo DS, and its primary market rival is Sony's PlayStation Portable...

 contains a Shop similar to that of the Wii that contains games and applications, most of which must be bought using Nintendo Points. It is also worth noting that, using the Wii's Nintendo Channel, various DS files, such as Game Demo's and videos can be downloaded onto the Wii console and transferred via wireless to a DSi handheld.

Starting with Apple's iPhone OS
IPhone OS
iOS is Apple's mobile operating system. Originally developed for the iPhone, it has since been extended to support other Apple, Inc. devices such as the iPod Touch, iPad, and Apple TV. Apple, Inc. does not license iOS for installation on third-party hardware...

 version 3.0 release, & Apple's iPhone 4
IPhone 4
The iPhone 4 is a touchscreen slate smartphone developed by Apple Inc. It is the fourth generation iPhone, and successor to the iPhone 3GS. It is particularly marketed for video calling , consumption of media such as books and periodicals, movies, music, and games, and for general web and e-mail...

, downloadable content became available for the platform via applications bought from the App Store. While this ability was initially only available to developers for paid applications, Apple eventually allowed for developers to offer this in free applications as well in October 2009.


Since Microsoft
Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

 popularized the business model of microtransactions, many people have criticized downloadable content as being overpriced, and an incentive for developers to leave items out of the initial release. Some criticism stems from the fact that many of the items sold on sites like Xbox Live Marketplace are not downloadable content at all, but are instead content keys used to unlock content already on the game disk, people feel as if they are paying to unlock content they already purchased when they bought the game itself. For instance, criticism arose over the downloadable "Versus Mode" for Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5, known in Japan as , is a survival horror third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on March 5, 2009 in Japan and on March 13, 2009 in North America and Europe...

: on Xbox Live
Xbox Live
Xbox Live is an online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service created and operated by Microsoft Corporation. It is currently the only online gaming service on consoles that charges users a fee to play multiplayer gaming. It was first made available to the Xbox system in 2002...

 the total file size of the pack was 2 Megabytes, leading people to believe that the Mode was already on the game disc but Capcom
is a Japanese developer and publisher of video games, known for creating multi-million-selling franchises such as Devil May Cry, Chaos Legion, Street Fighter, Mega Man and Resident Evil. Capcom developed and published Bionic Commando, Lost Planet and Dark Void too, but they are less known. Its...

 chose to offer it as an added extra and request a fee in order for it to be unlocked.

Microsoft and Nintendo have been criticized for selling only specific amounts of their currency. For example, if someone wants to purchase a $15 item, they are forced to spend $20 just to buy enough currency to buy the $15 item. 80 Xbox Live Marketplace Points are equivalent to one dollar, and one Wii point is equal to one penny. Both companies have been criticized for taking advantage of currency parity
Breakage (Accounting)
Breakage is a term used in accounting to indicate gift cards that have been sold but never redeemed. Revenue from breakage is almost entirely profit, since companies need not provide any goods or services for unredeemed gift cards....

, and keeping consumers from realizing the actual cost of items. Like Disney Dollar
Disney dollar
Disney dollars are a form of corporate scrip sold by Walt Disney and redeemable for goods or services at many Disney facilities.Similar in size, shape, and design to the paper currency of the United States most of them bear the image of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, or a...

s, the idea is that gamers will be more ready to spend a certain amount of "points" than a specific dollar amount.

Providing free DLC can also provide revenue at the expense of users' convenience. For example, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm, known in Japan as is a fighting game developed by CyberConnect2 and published by Namco Bandai Games. The game was released for the PlayStation 3 across North America, Europe and Australasia in November 2008 and in Japan on January 15, 2009...

 for the PlayStation 3
PlayStation 3
The is the third home video game console produced by Sony Computer Entertainment and the successor to the PlayStation 2 as part of the PlayStation series. The PlayStation 3 competes with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles...

 was shipped with certain features disabled. However, users can freely download packs to re enable the missing content from the PlayStation Store
PlayStation Store
The PlayStation Store is an online virtual market available to users of Sony's PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable game consoles via the PlayStation Network. The Store offers a range of downloadable content both for purchase and available free of charge. Available content includes full games,...

. Consequently, users are exposed to advertisements and potential purchases. There is also the additional marketing benefit that users may believe that there is continuing support for the product if there is an apparent flow of such patches.

Controversy also appears over the inability to resell the content. Where a normal software disc can have its license sold or traded, DLC is locked to a specific user or console and does not come with the ability to transfer that license to another user.

There is also criticism concerning the exclusivity of downloadable contents, as some of these contents are frequently added to new disc version of the game. Buyers of the Resident Evil 5 : Gold Edition would have access to contents previously exclusives as downloadable content without having to pay any extra fee. In other cases, a disc exclusive feature can be release afterwards as a downloadable content, at the expense of customers. In 2009, several missions were released as downloadable content for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is a multimedia project developed by LucasArts along with Dark Horse Comics, Lego, Hasbro, and Del Rey Books...

. These levels, in addition to a new Hoth level, were repackaged as the Ultimate Sith Edition and sold again for Xbox 360, PS3, and Windows PC. LucasArts
LucasArts Entertainment Company, LLC is an American video game developer and publisher. The company was once famous for its innovative line of graphic adventure games, the critical and commercial success of which peaked in the mid 1990s...

 made it clear that the Hoth level was exclusive to the Ultimate Sith Edition and would never be released as a downloadable content, forcing the most die-hard gamers to purchase the new edition (despite already owning the original version and all other DLC). Shortly afterwards, LucasArts announced that, in fact, the Hoth level would be released independently as a DLC, to the outrage of many fans who purchased the new game solely for it.

Microsoft has been known to require developers to charge for their content, when the developers would rather release their content for free. Some content has even been withheld from release because the developer refused to charge the amount Microsoft required. Epic Games, known for continual support of their older titles with downloadable updates, believed that releasing downloadable content over the course of a game's lifetime helped increase sales throughout, and had succeeded well with that business-model in the past, but was required to implement fees for downloads when releasing content for their Microsoft-published game, Gears of War
Gears of War
Gears of War is a military science fiction third-person shooter video game developed by Epic Games and published by Microsoft Game Studios...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.