Why On-Disc DLC Is As Bad A Crime As Gamers Make It Out To Be
There seems to be this sort of nonchalance about the way publishers have been handling the video game industry lately. It's devolved into a race to the bottom for who can churn out the most “broadly appealing” title while having as many monetary nickel and diming schemes as possible, to boost revenue and hopefully turn a profit. One of the biggest and more deplorable schemes happening right now is something called disc-locked content or on-disc DLC, a method that locks finished content behind a pay-wall on a full priced retail disc, requiring additional funds to unlock said content. Recently, Ars Technica wanted to quell some of the vitriol surrounding gamers' perception of on-disc DLC or disc-locked content claiming that it's not that big of a deal.
So basically, Ars Technica writer Kyle Orland wrote a somewhat middle-of-the-road piece about on-disc DLC not being as bad as people are making it out to be, following the recent fallout over Resident Evil 6's on-disc DLC discovery, which nearly had pitchforks and torches out all over the place.
Orland also claims that there are justifiable reasons for disc-locked content in games, even though we've gone through several generations of gaming without it and have had games made of impeccable quality without the need for any DLC at all (i.e.,GTA: San Andreas, Baldur's Gate, Anachronox, Shadow of the Colossus, etc., etc.)
But let's be real here and ask the obvious question: If you have finished content that's done and certified on the gold master disc why are you locking it away if the game is not free-to-play or budget priced? Locking away more than $110 worth of content on the Street Fighter X Tekken disc was completely unacceptable and a slap in the face to gamers. What sort of moron actually defends wanting to pay more for standard features that are common features in every other gameplay experience out there?
In fact, even Namco Bandai veteran and Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada felt disc-locked content -- especially for key features such as fighters and stages -- was wrong on many levels and opted to include as much free DLC as possible for Tekken Tag Tournament 2 to off-set the bad press fighting games had received due to the Street Fighter X Tekken fiasco.
One of the common arguments on behalf of on-disc DLC or disc-locked content is that it's easier for gamers to access the goods and removes the need to download anything other than an access key. The other argument is that on-disc DLC is done by a separate team on a separate budget, thus it justifies a separate price (take note that this is just a rumor and in the cases where on-disc DLC was discovered, the guilty party has never publicly admitted or proved the content was on a separate budget.)
Plain and simple: If content is finished in time for certification and ships with the master gold print for manufacturing, there's no reason why it couldn't be included with the game from the start. It's obvious it's a cash grab, even Michael Pachter admits it looks plain greedy that certified content is withheld from consumers just to make more money.
If DLC is designed by a separate team on a separate budget but it's finished in time for certification does that mean gamers should also pay for out-sourced material such as art, additional sound cues and cinematics that were done on a separate budget by a separate team? Now we're getting into meta-pricing for video game costs. How much of what's not part of the original design, coding or certification should gamers be paying extra for? Most companies contract third-party studios to put together cinematics, so should those have an extra $5 price tag since it was designed separate from the main game? What about concept art or tech demos? These sometimes appear on game discs as extras...should we pay extra to even view them? Do you see how ridiculous this line of thinking gets?
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