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What's it really costing you to get the most out of your Xbox 360 games?

What's it really costing you to get the most out of your Xbox 360 games?

The Xbox 360 as well as the upcoming PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii will all make use of digital distribution of extra content to enhance your already-purchased games, and some of it will come at a price that may surprise you. While the release of new premium content on Xbox Live isn't really news by now--there's chargeable stuff added on a daily basis--the amount of in-game content that has appeared for Xbox 360 games postrelease and for an extra fee has added a layer of cost to these already more-expensive titles. While it's refreshing to see new features added to a game after release, it's a bit disheartening to have to pay even more to get the most out of a game you've already plunked down a sizable chunk of change to buy in the first place. It may be commonplace for PC gamers to have to pay for extra content (suckers!), but this sort of practice is pretty new for console owners. With that in mind, by using the invaluable Achieve360points.com's comprehensive content listing, I've rounded up all of the Xbox 360 games with in-game content sold over the Xbox Live Marketplace (we're not counting themes and gamer pictures here) and added the cost of each game's downloadable content to the game's retail price (at the time the game was released), giving you, the gamer, a final price point for the "full" versions of your Xbox 360 games. Only games that have downloadable content were included. We'll start with the lesser offenders at the top--all Xbox Live Arcade games, natch:

Note: The exchange rate between Microsoft points and real-world dollars was determined using the $20 1,600 Microsoft point prepaid card as a basis. The points currently cost more when purchased through the Xbox Live Marketplace infrastructure.

  • Crystal Quest
    Game cost: $5 (400 Microsoft points)
    Download cost: Five items at a total of $6.25 (500 Microsoft points)
    Full game cost: $11.25

  • Outpost Kaloki X
    Game cost: $10 (800 Microsoft points)
    Download cost: Five items at a total of $3.75 (300 Microsoft points)
    Full game cost: $13.75

  • Perfect Dark Zero
    Game cost: $50 (Collector's Edition sold for $60, with no extra content)
    Download cost: One item at a total of $6.25 (500 Microsoft points)
    Full game cost: $54 (or $64 for Collector's Edition)

  • Kameo: Elements of Power
    Game cost: $50
    Dowload cost: Four items at a total of $7.50 (600 Microsoft points)
    Full game cost:$57.25

  • Project Gotham Racing 3
    Game cost: $50
    Download cost: 13 items at a total of $13.25 (1,060 Microsoft points)
    Full game cost: $63.25

  • The Outfit
    Game cost: $60
    Download cost: Two items at a total of $6.25 (500 Microsoft points)
    Full game cost: $66.25

  • Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
    Game cost: $60 (Limited Special Edition sold for $70, with no extra content)
    Download cost: Five items at a total of $11.25 (900 Microsoft points)
    Full game cost: $71.25 (or $81.25 for Limited Special Edition)

  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
    Game cost: $60
    Download cost: One item at a total of $15 (1,200 Microsoft points)
    Full game cost: $75

  • Call of Duty 2
    Game cost: $60
    Download cost: Three items at a total of $15 (1,200 Microsoft points)
    Full game cost: $75

  • And the most expensive "full" game is...

  • Ridge Racer 6
    Game cost: $60
    Download cost: 41 items at a total of $41 (3,280 Microsoft points)
    Full game cost: $101!
    Note: In the interest of fairness, I must mention that all 41 items are extra music tracks. They are extra content items, however, so they must be included.
  • As the shocking twist ending reveals, a lot of the content is ancillary. Sometimes it's something simple such as new songs or costumes, but in other cases, it's extra missions or online maps that serve to separate the rich from the slightly less rich. It's worth pointing out, however, that there's plenty of great free content available. Kameo has an online co-op mode that costs nothing, and Burnout Revenge has seven free cars--cars plastered with ads, granted, but they're free cars nonetheless. The point is, gamers are used to unlocking these kinds of items through hours of hard work. I guess in a way they still are, except it's time on the job rather than in front of the screen that pays for that swanky horse armor.

    Content listing and price source: Achieve360points