#10. Horse Armor (Oblivion)
In 2006, Bethesda Game Studios used their popular open world game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion to test the waters of DLC, and decided to go about it like they were trying to capture drunk fish with wallets. The first DLC they rolled out invited players to "Protect your horse from danger with this beautiful handcrafted armor." Unfortunately, it turned out that the armor didn't serve much of a function within the game, so they were asking you to spend $2.50 on pretty virtual horse-clothes. While this was an enticing offer to anyone who had accidentally installed Oblivion instead of My Little Pony, none of those people were clever enough to steal their mom's credit card.
Even the horse looks surprised you fell for this.
The Internet exploded with rage, and Bethesda seemed to realize that DLC wasn't actually free money after it was pointed out to them that evern prison showers have seen subtler attempts to screw their users. Later Oblivion DLC included entire extra quests loaded with characters and items for the same price. Players congratulated themselves on the victory, and swore no one would ever be so stupid again.
#9. Weapon Skins (Gears of War 3)
Many more people were so stupid. Again. Five years after Oblivion's failure, Gears of War 3 launched with more ridiculous frills than a ballerina's wardrobe. Except ballerinas are good at something real and are meant to look like that. Gears of War players were asked to buy dozens of "weapon skins," which would be awesome if the weapon in question was a Terminator, and the wrapping was human flesh in the shape of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Instead, players who purchased the DLC got a paint job for their gun. The complete set is offered at a bargain 3600 points. That's only $45!
Or three-quarters of the cost of the game.
This went beyond being just useless, since you were paying money to paint your weapon a bright color in an environment where anything that isn't "dirt brown" gets seen and shot immediately.
That dead guy on the right? Tiny bit of blue visible.
To confirm that they hated the people who they were scamming, many of the skins are "cute flowers" and "animated rainbows," though makers Epic Games managed to hold themselves back from releasing "our sweaty balls" drawn on the side of the Lancer. We have to assume they got the idea after observing all the homoerotic trash talk on Xbox chat, and deciding to create an ill-advised feature for the many gay men who play their game.
#8. Paying for Power-ups (Dead Space)
The "Speed Kills" add-on sells you slightly faster versions of half the guns you already have in the main game for $2.25. Every cent of which goes toward replacing the silk underwear EA ruined with excitement when they realized they could charge for power-ups.
Press B to enter your credit card information, then fire.
Increasing weapon speed is just changing a variable. That's not even a single line of code and they're charging over two dollars. By this math the whole game should cost Saudi Arabia. Even Microsoft knows this is a sucker deal as the only description text is "Includes faster-firing Force Gun, Line Gun, and Plasma Cutter. There are no refunds for this item." Half its own sales pitch is "Haha, you'll never get that cash back, sucker."
I felt bad about ripping people off, until I realized they were dumb enough to fall for it!
It's not even faster weapons -- it's some faster weapons. To get the others accelerated you need the Scorpion Weapon Pack, another $2.25, and for your mother to have belly-flopped her way through her third trimester. If you buy both, EA just starts charging your account at random because you clearly don't even understand money.
#7. Warden's Keep (Dragon Age: Origins)Dragon Age: Origins has an incredibly immersive story, which the DLC shatters like a sledgehammer. Several hours into the game you make camp and go around talking to every single character. If you aren't familiar with this stage, you probably think an RPG is a rocket-powered grenade launcher.
Though this is also meaningful character interaction.
As you chat everyone up, you meet a man who tells you of the forsaken "Warden's Keep" and you think "Woohoo! Sidequest!" He promises adventure, items and even a glimpse into the involved history of the game world. Anyone who makes it through the several pages of conversation has likely been moved by his impassioned pleas, and is ready to say, "Yes, desperate stranger, I will aid you in this valiant quest!" To which he replies "[THAT WILL BE SEVEN REAL HUMAN DOLLARS.]" Machines haven't ruined a narrative so badly since the Matrix sequels.
"Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced bunch of bullshit which isn't kickass action sequences."
They only tell you it's DLC after you've already decided to play. It's not in a shop, or a marketplace menu, it's embedded in the game world. You're left hating the developers more than the in-game enemies. After all, the Darkspawn might be an eldritch force of horror bent on destroying the world but at least the bastards turn up to kill you when you've already spent $60. Worse, this was launch-day content, meaning it was finished before the game was sold. Instead of trying to make the best possible game, companies are now precisely aiming for "good enough" to get you to pay more money for the best possible version of the game.
#6. Rezurrection (Call of Duty: Black Ops)Call of Duty is such a great game they've released it eight times. The franchise has shot so many people in so many sequels, Rambo and John McClane are thinking about staging an intervention. To avoid making the games too repetitive, they're adding new modes to keep people interested, but their imaginations are so atrophied the most original thing they can think of is "Zombies!" And even that wasn't original because they'd done it before. CoD: World at War featured a fun extra zombie mode for free. CoD: Black Ops released the same mode two years later as a $15 add-on. It's either a blatant mockery of customers or truly meta-attempt at representing zombification -- re-animating something that died a while ago and making it much worse the second time round.
I really hate pop culture for making zombie nazis in space boring.
This isn't extra content -- they amputated part of the previous game so they could sell it for extra money. Of course they did do some extra work to create a new map, and that's "a" as in only one, because four of the five maps are from the original zombie mode. You know, the free one you already had if you are devoted enough to consider paying for this version. It doesn't help that both were made by Treyarch, official silver-medal winners in the two-contestant "Making Good Call of Duty games" event.