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How good are no-frills DVDs?

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OH Smeg
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There are way too many possibilities here ranging from things out of your control like the Blanks being exposed to sunlight somewhere in the supply chain to the more likely thing a change in the Dye's used in the Blanks which is no lingers compactable with your Optical Drive.

Different Blue Dyes can work while some may not work with some DVD Burners or conversely if you leave discs in the Burner a lot of the time the LED can be losing Intensity and is no longer capable of burning blanks.

I have had bad lots of Discs from different suppliers in both DVD and CD Formats over the years and generally speaking just changing the supplier will cure the problem provided that the Burner isn't on it's way to Silicon Heaven. If the Drive is losing intensity on one type of Optical Disc it may work perfectly on the other type so lets say that the CD is no longer capable of being burnt in no way implies that a DVD will not be burnable or vice versa. As there are different colour LEDs involved in burning/reading DVD to CD it is quite possible that one is on it's way out while the other is in perfect condition.