Back during the PS2 era of games we would pay $50 for a game and that was it. Every once in a blue moon a game would get some form of DLC but for the most part when you paid for a game during the PS2 era, you got the full game. No questions, ifs or buts about it.
Today's generation of gaming isn't quite like that...a lot of games ship out of the box broken, some even requiring day-one patches while others require patches on top of having day-one DLC. It's good business but let's not beat around the bush, it's a slap in the face to gamers and consumers the world around.
Cliffy B., lead designer for Gears of War has finally acknowledged the elephant in the room, that on-disc DLC is a necessary evil in today's game designing climate. Still, he at least admits it's an ugly truth that he's not proud of.
In an interview with GameSpot at PAX East, Cliff Blezinski states that...
"When you're making a game, and you're getting into a ship cycle, there's often three or four months where the game is basically done. And you have an idle team that needs to be working on things,"..."And often for compatibility issues, [on] day one, some of that content does need to be on-disc. It's an ugly truth of the gaming industry. I'm not the biggest fan of having to do it, but it is one of the unfortunate realities."
I hate to correct the Cliffster, but it's one of the things covered in the Top Misconceptions about the Gaming Industry, check under No. 8. There are clear examples and continued proof that a game, when it's done (also known as going gold), is not sitting around for several months with people diddling their fingers. There are ample examples in the article listing the time frame of the team being "idle" and the game being ready to ship to stores. I've yet to come across a game, especially this gen, that sat on the shelf for four months going through certification. In fact, Gears of War 3 was an even month from the time it went gold to the time it shipped.
This is not to say that the team can't get a lot of DLC done within the span of a month, but it shines a bad light on the direction of video game production priorities. Just like in the case of Street Fighter X Tekken and the disc-locked content, Capcom should have been spending that time fixing important features for the game instead of locking away content for a DLC campaign, such as the sound issues, pair-play for the Xbox 360 and some of those infinite character combos. Putting potential revenue in front of quality is just not a good direction for video game production.
Cliffy B. had this to say in closing...
"If we can get to fully downloadable games, then you can just buy a $30 horror game and just have it, and that stuff will thankfully go away,"
Eh, I tend to doubt that. Like in the case of Street Fighter X Tekken for PC, the DLC issue doesn't really go away it's just removed from the disc and stored on the server. Ultimately it turns into "How much can we charge for the game while withholding specific features to charge for later?"
The real "dangerous precedent" is with an all-digital approach, because like with most AAA titles on PC, they still cost the same digitally as their $60 disc-based counterparts for the Xbox 360 and PS3, even without the manufacturing, distribution or shipping costs on the publisher's end to justify the $60 price point.
I do agree that it will be nice when we get to a point where everyone wins and these sort of tactics go away for good.