On Disc DLC: Enough Is Enough
When it was revealed that Capcom’s latest fighter Street Fighter X Tekken had its upcoming DLC already on disc it caused quite the online riot. How dare Capcom try to charge extra for content already on the disc, fans screamed. Capcoms defense was simply, “”There is effectively no distinction between the DLC being ‘locked’ behind the disc and available for unlocking at a later date, or being available through a full download at a later date, other than delivery mechanism. ” Normally I defend companies like Capcom from fan hatred but really Capcom? No distinction?
Give me a fucking break.
Now I understand the difference between DLC that is developed before the game goes gold but after the main development cycle is over. Generally when that happens the DLC is done before the game ships due to the shorter development cycle of DLC than the main game. I can understand DLC that’s mostly on a disc because it was incomplete until shortly before launch. I’ve also heard of content that was only DLC because they couldn’t finish that bit of content before release. I’ve even somehow managed to accept on disc DLC that is exclusive to pre-order (barely though).
But when the ENTIRE DLC is finished, complete, on-disc, NOT available as day one DLC, and you try to charge $20 for it, well hell then you’re just being shady.
The sad thing is that this isn’t the first time we’ve had Day One DLC, but it is the first time I’ve ever seen a company shrug and basically smile at you. Add that to the fact that Capcom is on a short list already with its infamous yearly remixes (Super Street Fighter, Super Street Fighter A.E, etc), and you have a company that by all means should be minding its manners. In fact this is just the latest episode in what feels like an epidemic. The amount of companies that are getting on board with this phantom on disc dlc is growing at an alarming rate.
In the past year alone we’ve had; Street Fighter X Tekken , Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Mass Effect 3, and Fable 3. Those are just the ones off the top of my head from the past year. That’s not even crossing the fuzzy line into Online Pass content. Now I understand that with the recession games are generating less money while costing more to produce, I get that, I truly do. But there is a great difference between “accessoring” and “ripping gamers off”. On-disc DLC serves absolutely no point beyond taking advantage of a gamers need to own the complete experience. You are not enhancing their game play as DLC should, you are instead piecing out parts of the game in an a la carte way meant to pad pockets.
Worse of all it perverts the very idea of what DLC was supposed to be, the console version of digital expansion packs and accessories. When I first heard of consoles getting Downloadable Content I imagined a marketplace where I could buy little extra things for a game I truly loved. I imagined buying outfit packs for fighters, map packs for shooters, and new adventures for RPG’s for a the low price of a dollar or two. I imagined a new form of mini transactions that would let me delve deeper into games I owned, but only if I wanted to. DLC would never be required, I would never feel cheated. I would instead look forward to DLC as a way to complete or extend my time in a game. Never would I have imagined horse armor packs for $10 or content that was already on the disc ready for play for $20.
So instead of a system where gamers feel like they’re being rewarded for their loyalty instead its evolved into a system where when people here DLC they groan as they await to be molested by their favorite developers. In that is the biggest shame of all, that we, gamers, will eventually and inevitable BUY the dlc. We will bitch, and moan, and boycott but for those that love games, for those loyal to their favorite franchises, DLC is an inevitable purchase. And the video game industry knows this, they know this and capitalize on it.
Sadly I don’t even see a way out of this cycle of overgrown capitalism. There is no telling as to if certain content is planned as day one DLC or whether it was just a part of the overall development process. Boycotting day one DLC or DLC as a whole could easily lead to developers just cutting certain DLC out. And while my wallet will certainly not miss being taken advantage of I once again have to worry about the overall creative process of the industry. Often times its impossible to tell where a developers goals end and a publishers needs begin. You can’t slap one without hurting the other. It is up to us as gamers to shout from the rooftop when we are being taken advantage of and to shake the system until our cries are heard. But we also need to support when good DLC is released so that companies know where the “safe” money is. The rest, well the rest is up to the video game industry as a whole.
And as far as Capcom? Well Capcom I shake my head at you,I am truly disappointed in you. If your going to try and pull a fast one on your customer base then at least have the guts to ‘fess up to it. Because right now your only losing trust in the very gamers that actually want to respect you.