Naughty Dog dishes out free DLC for Uncharted 3’s two-year anniversary. Can we make it a trend, please?

Here’s a fan-friendly move that needs to become the new industry standard: Naughty Dog celebrated the two-year anniversary of Uncharted 3 by removing the price tag from its DLC multiplayer maps. Not enough anniversary love for you? They also added a brand new map called Dry Docks and slashed prices on other DLC (costumes, etc.).

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Here’s your excuse to get Sully, Elena, Chloe, and the gang together.

For those of us who groan about DLC, this is slick news, not to mention a classy move on Naughty Dog’s part. It got my overworked mind thinking: Why don’t more companies do something similar on the two-year anniversary of a game?

Imagine this life cycle for a game:

a) Release date: A game releases in bare bones form.

b) One-year anniversary: Ultimate edition or Game of the Year edition hits shelves, coaxing those who passed on the game earlier.

c) Two-year anniversary:  DLC sheds its price tag, gives early adopters a reason to boot-up the game and spread the word to potential newcomers.

In other words, free things come to those who wait. The only problem with this system is that it could deter early adopters from buying DLC. However, if companies stay tight-lipped until the two-year anniversary, the system could work to benefit both gamers and game companies.

As a bonus, this strategy could benefit games that don’t receive a GOTY Edition. Imagine if Konami announced free DLC for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (I know there’s a LoS multi-pack, but work with me here). Gaming sites and blogs would buzz with the news and make the game relevant again. Fans of the original would pop-in to play the DLC while curious newcomers would pull the trigger. Meanwhile the release of Lords of Shadow 2 is looming, and suddenly there’s rejuvenated interest from old and new fans alike.

Free DLC for the sake of advertising. We can do this.

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Batman DLC promoted weeks before the game’s release–Why do I even bother?

Remember when game add-ons and patches and DLC sounded like a good thing? Internet connections were once like an all-healing, benevolent messiah that could iron out a game’s technical issues, then shower us with bonus content of all flavors and sizes.

Then game companies got greedy.

As a lifelong Bat-fan, I’m itching to play the latest Batman game installment, Arkham City Origins. Trouble is, I’d feel like a dope buying it on day one. Or even year one.

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Oh wow! For just an extra twenty bucks I can complete the game I already paid full-price for. Total steal!

A little over a week ago it was announced that a DLC package entitled “Initiation” was already in the works. The gist of Initiation is that you’ll play through Bruce Wayne’s pre-Batman ninja days. Anyone who has seen Batman Begins knows that Bruce embraced his physical skills and abilities through ninja training. The Initiation DLC won’t deal with Ra’s al Ghul or the League of Shadows, but it will provide some nifty narrative backstory… For a fee, of course.

Obviously, DLC and bonus charges are nothing new, but it’s ridiculous that Origins’ producer is touting upcoming DLC when the game itself hasn’t hit a store shelf yet. And don’t give me that “Just buy a Season Pass” nonsense either. The issue here is that game companies have abused a system that was meant to benefit gamers. We welcomed the idea of downloading updates to fix a bug or two. We loved the idea of having access to bonus content; even when companies slapped a price tag on it, we welcomed having the option.

But now, I feel that new releases aren’t games anymore. They’re subscriptions. And the $60 that loyal fans lay on the sales counter is just the start.

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Instead of bat symbol, why not just be frank and make it a dollar sign?

I’m on the fence about buying Arkham Origins this year. I’d love to play the game, but spending $60 on it seems wasteful and foolish, especially when (Spoiler alert!) the inevitable Game of the Year Edition is due in 2014. And once the GOTY version hits the market, it’s price will plummet, just like Arkham City’s GOTY edition, which can be had on Amazon for fifteen bucks.