Expansion or DLC?

By John Sollitto

So I’ve taken to perusing the X-Box Live Marketplace and Steam and whatnot, and I’ve found that a lot of DLC’s are being made lately. DLC’s are all over the place lately. Now, it’s debated as to whether or not a DLC has to actually contribute to the game’s story and gameplay or add certain little gimmicks for people who are ultimate completionists.
I think the term DLC is a little confusing and often misused.  People just use it to describe anything you can download that contains content. Well, yeah I guess it can be that. Sure. But by that definition every game you download from an online marketplace is then DLC.

There dozens of different types of examples of DLC to be seen, but there are central ones that basically demonstrate the fact that there needs to be a definite distinction when it comes to this term.
Batman: Arkham City, that beautiful piece of gaming history, has four examples in it. First, you could download all these different types of costumes and suits for Batman to wear during your game, should you decide you don’t like the one in the game or you think it would be funny to have the old Batman swinging through this gritty version of Gotham/Arkham. Second, you could download both Robin and Nightwing, two characters that would be available for the Riddler Combat and Stealth Challenges, but that was it. Finally, you can download Catwoman, and with her comes a smaller story that interweaves within the larger story of Arkham City, as well as the ability to use her alongside Batman, Robin, and Nightwing in the Riddler challenges.
Here’s where we get muddy. I think that only three of those are DLC and one of those is an expansion to the game. The Robin, Nightwing, and costume DLCs are nothing more than fluff. Sure, I love playing as Robin and beating the ever-loving crap out of Joker goons with a bo staff and jumping off my couch shouting “SUCK IT!” when I finish the challenge. Who doesn’t do that? But really, does that change the game for you significantly? Not really. Neither do the costumes. I mean, you’re paying money to play dress-up with Batman (I’m sure there’s a female and male contingent out there though that would love to do that).
Those are real DLCs to me. They’re just content, nothing more. Now, the Catwoman DLC comes with a mini-story, costumes for her, and the ability to use her in challenges. That’s all three things the game offers in one DLC. That to me would be a game expansion. It gives more to the overall game in a more complete way.
So now there’s the distinction between expansion and DLC. Good God, so muuuuuch. You know Call of Duty? Of course you do. Things that just add a new costume, or a new multiplayer map, or crap like that? Those are DLCs. That is content you can download.
Back in the day expansion was more used for games like Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne or all the different versions of Age of Empires II that came out. Now it’s things like L.A. Noire’s “Reefer Madness” or Borderland’s “Mad Moxxie’s Underdome Riot” are both examples of expansions. Things that add more than an hour of gameplay and have more weapons and characters and additional story to the single-player campaign are things that EXPAND the game. See the distinction? 
Now, I have a problem with DLC because I think they’re a little bit of a ripoff. I mean, how much do you pay for something so small as a costume change or a multiplayer character? Sure it took a lot of time to make, but I’m fairly sure that Captain America’s fifth costume in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was not that big of a deal as much as adding a new map in Call of Duty multiplayer. That stuff should either be real cheap, or free in my opinion, or at least paired with more stuff.
But expansions? Those guys kill me when it comes to money. Every time they come out I see them on my computer and this scenario happens:
ANYWAY, I’d just like there to be some separation in the industry when it comes to using the term DLC instead of having it bandied about. I’d like for once not to be fooled when someone says “new DLC coming out!” and find out it’s just a freaking map.
What do you think of DLCs and expansions? Are there definite distinctions or has the term become a blanket one? What do you like or dislike about them? C’mon! Tell us!
P.S. Folks, you see these awesome drawings I’ve been using lately in my articles? They’re from the awesomely talented John Kleckner. Kleckner makes these hilarious comics with wacky faces that I adore so much and he’s honestly very very funny. Please give him a shout-out or follow him on Twitter at @hejibits and his website is www.hejibits.com