15 Most Shameless DLC Cash Grabs in Gaming History
PocketEpiphany Published 04/17/2021 in Gaming
In a perfect world, downloadable content (DLC) would be like dessert. You’ve enjoyed the main dish, and this is your opportunity to pay a little extra for a sweet treat. Unfortunately, most DLC out there is nothing more than a cash grab. You don’t even get to enjoy the main dish without paying different costs for your table, your chairs, your napkin, and your utensils. Don’t believe it? Let’s take a little tour of the most shameless DLC cash grabs in gaming history.
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1. Battlefield 4: Ultimate Shortcut Bundle
Many games feature DLC that is obnoxious for one reason or another. But every now and then you get DLC that's truly awful, as with Battlefield 4’s “Ultimate Shortcut Bundle.”
True to its name, this bundle allowed players to unlock all of the game’s weapons for $49.99. Those who hate DLC saw the price as absurd (asking you to pay nearly the cost of a new game just to unlock game features).
Hardcore Battlefield 4 players didn’t like that someone could effectively jump ahead of everyone else by throwing money at the game.
2. Mortal Kombat X: Easy Fatalities
Fatalities are the signature element of Mortal Kombat, and pulling them off has always been a mark of skill. Until Mortal Kombat X, that is.
This game featured an “easy fatalities” DLC where you could buy five easy fatalities for $.99 or 30 for $4.99.
It was shameless on their part and basically just appealed to the laziest of possible players.
3. The True Ending to Asura’s Wrath
Generally speaking, Asura’s Wrath is an awesome game. It features fun gameplay, a memorable story, and killer character design.
But to get the “true" ending and finally get revenge on your foe, you had to pay extra for DLC.
Gamers often complain about publishers shipping incomplete titles, but nothing is quite as bad as having to pay extra just to beat the final boss.
4. WWE 2K Accelerator
Imagine you could put a price tag on the effort that goes into playing your favorite games. Would you believe that price would be as low as $2?
WWE 2K Accelerator featured a $2 DLC that allowed you to unlock just about everything instead of spending hours of earning these features.
While that $2 is a low price, it also reveals how silly this all is. Either give the content to players at no extra cost or let them feel like they’ve earned it through gameplay.
5. Mass Effect 3: From Ashes
The Mass Effect series was a flawed masterpiece, and none more than Mass Effect 3. But that game came with DLC that if you didn’t pre-order, cost you $10.
The “From Ashes” DLC gave you a cool Prothean character and story-driven missions and lore.
In short, anyone who didn’t pre-order this game had to either pay extra for content that should have been part of the core game or be stuck with an incomplete experience.
6. Tomb Raider (2013) – Tomb Of The Lost Adventurer
On paper, Tomb Raider is the perfect franchise for DLC. After all, there are always new areas to explore and puzzles to solve...right?
Not quite. The "Tomb of The Lost Adventurer" DLC for the 2013 Tomb Raider was $3 for nothing more than the world’s smallest tomb and shortest puzzles.
This was so dumb that gamers were tempted to fling their copies of the game into the nearest tomb.
7. The Amazing Spider-Man: Osphone Games
Spider-Man stories can be very entertaining when they get “meta” (just look at Into the Spider-Verse).
But with the Amazing Spider-Man tie-in game, a little meta ended up going way too far.
That’s because this title featured “Osphone Games” DLC that to buy for Peter Parker to play on his phone.
The kicker was these were just crappy clones of better games that you could download for free on your own phone, making this just as stupid as it was shameless.
8. Marvel’s Avengers: Verizon Skins
Marvel’s Avengers was a magnificent flop, which is great news to players who hate being nickel-and-dimed.
Before the game failed, though, it included some of the dumbest DLC the world had ever seen: Players who subscribed to Virgin or Verizon could get exclusive costumes.
What could make playing through that slog of a game even worse? Doing it while serving as a walking advertisement for a crappy telecom company.
9. Street Fighter x Tekken: Additional Characters
Arguably, the biggest feature of modern fighters is a large roster of characters. And at first glance, Street Fighter x Tekken had plenty of characters to choose from.
Look closer, though, and you’d see that 12 of these characters were locked behind some overpriced DLC.
This was seen as scandalous by many fans, and for good reason. This was clearly content designed for the main game and turned into a last-minute DLC to fleece players.
10. Star Wars Battlefront II: New Characters
Honestly, the entire saga of EA’s awful DLC for Star Wars: Battlefront II could fill an entire book. But the worst of this centered around your ability to unlock new characters.
At launch, it took approximately 40 hours of gameplay grinding to unlock a single new character. Or you could gamble on their awful microtransaction systems.
After fan outcry, EA removed microtransactions entirely and made it easier to unlock characters, but that didn’t keep them from peddling new characters and other features via an overpriced “Celebration Pack.”
11. The Sims 4: Basically Everything
The Sims is the world’s most beloved simulation game, and for good reason. But The Sims 4 is basically the poster child for what happens when EA goes crazy with idiotic DLC.
Almost anything you might want for your character is hidden behind DLC. This includes pets, clothing, and even certain professions.
At some point, it becomes cheaper to improve your own life than tricking your Sim’s life out with all this DLC.
12. Final Fantasy: All the Bravest — New Characters
Final Fantasy: All the Bravest embraced many bits of “freemium” nonsense, including charging money to revive fallen characters.
But the most annoying part concerned gaining new characters.
You couldn’t just buy the character of your choice. Instead, you had to spend $1 for a 1-in-35 chance of getting the character you want.
To definitely get the character you want, you have to plunk down $35, all for a really crappy “free” game.
13. Dragon Age: Origins — Annoying Quest
Ever heard the phrase “it’s not what you said, but how you said it?” Bioware learned this lesson when it came to DLC for Dragon Age: Origins.
At one point, an NPC comes up to you and starts giving you details about a new quest. But if you accept, you are immediately prompted to buy the DLC to finish this quest.
This would break the immersion of any game, but it seemed particularly egregious in the rich world of Dragon Age.
14. Beautiful Katamari: New Levels
For the most part, the Katamari games are both charming and groundbreaking. But Beautiful Katamari broke ground in the worst possible way.
This game featured multiple DLCs offering new levels to play. That doesn’t sound so bad, but you can’t actually get the necessary 1,500,000 km to finish the game without buying at least some of the DLC, nor can you unlock all the items without it.
Players were forced to live with an unfinished game or shell out extra cash for a complete experience.
15. Street Fighter III: Third Strike — Color Pack
The hallmark of truly terrible DLC is when you can feel gaming as a culture moving backwards at breakneck speeds. That’s what happened with Street Fighter III: Third Strike.
This game featured color packs to change the outfit colors for several characters. We’re not talking new skins here: this was literally just DLC to let you turn Ken’s red clothes blue.
It was a shameless move because different colors for fighters have been a built-in feature since Street Fighter II, and online opponents couldn’t even see your alternate colors unless they had the same DLC.
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