Thoughts from a (girl) Gamer

Tara Voelker's thoughts. A lot about video games, a little about life

DLC- The debate begins

by Tara

Is it wrong for game developers to charge money for DLC that is already on a disc?I don’t think it is, and you shouldn’t either. I have already taken a lot of heat for defending this practice, but I’m standing firm.

I’d like to begin with giving some explanation on what I mean by DLC (downloaded able content) that is already on a disc. Some companies are putting their DLC on the game discs when the game is initially shipped. Then, after the game has already been purchased by consumers, companies announce they have DLC. The consumer is then charged to get the code that unlocks the DLC that is unavailable otherwise instead of having the content actually downloaded.

This bothers a lot of people. Some have said that this is shaking people down for money, or holding the content hostage. Many are angry that this could be in development at the same time as the main game, but not included. Gamers feel they are being cheated. They have no reason to be though.

CAPCOM has really been picked on recently because Resident Evil 5 already had its multiplayer mode on the disc when the game launched. I really hate the everyone has been singling out RE5 on this, too. Resident Evil 5 was a complete game without any DLC. No one complained that the game was lacking… (I mean gameplay wise, which is different than lacking intelligent Sheva AI). Everything was fine, until the announced DLC.

That brings me to my first real point. DLC is meant to be something extra. The multiplayer mode in RE5 was something extra and that’s why I am okay with paying for it. I don’t feel like RE5 is incomplete without it, it’s just an added bonus. If I had played the game and felt like the game needed more, or felt like the game was only a complete game with the multiplayer versus, I would have been pissed over having to purchase DLC- regardless of where the content it kept. DLC is a nice little present from game developers, and we should be glad they have us a little something extra.

I also think that a lot of this frustration stems from a lack of understanding of the development process. The first common misconception is that any additional content will be made after the game has been launched, and if it is being developed at the at the same time as the full game it is intended to be part of the full game. That’s just incorrect. DLC is frequently worked on at the same time as the main game. This allows for the DLC to be launched while the game is still a new release and fresh on the market, which is good for both the company and gamer. When released close to the game’s original launch, gamers are more likely to purchase new content and therefore get a better overall gaming experience.  With more gamers buying the DLC, companies make more money. If DLC didn’t come into development until after the game was launched, the title would be old and stale by the time DLC was ready. Fewer people would want to buy it because they have moved on to new titles. Gamers would miss out on the work that was put into some something meant to enhance their gaming experience. And in return, companies would make less money.An example of this (for me anyway) was the DLC on Fable 2. If it had launched it’s DLC right away, I may have bought it. They didn’t though. The DLC rolled around later, and by the time it did I was already getting bored with the game and moved on to new more exciting things.

The other misconception is that the $60 you pay for the game should cover the DLC if it’s already on the disc. That’s not true either, The fact that the game and DLC were done at the same time and put on the same disc doesn’t change the fact that both sets of content have their own development teams, their own budgets, their own profit forecasts…. The sixty dollars price covers the full game development. The five extra dollars you pay covers the DLC development. It’s two separate price tags for two separate pieces of work. Not paying for downloadable content would just be like not paying a set of developers, and that’s not fair.

Still not convinced that there is nothing wrong with DLC on the disc? Maybe you believe that since you bought the disc you own everything on it and it’s not right for you to pay for something you already own? That’s not true either. Let’s apply this idea to a CD before I go any further. When you buy a CD do you own the music on the disc? No you don’t. You have bought the right to listen to that music on the disc for your own personal use. You are not allowed to do whatever you want with it… like upload it to a sharing site where tons of people can download it for free or using it as back ground music for your new TV show you have in production.  It’s not yours. You have bought the right to listen to it. When you buy a game disc, you have bought the rights to play the game and game options that are advertised on the box. To go back to Resident Evil 5, no where on the box (or in the booklet for that matter), does it say that you are receiving the bonus multiplayer mode for purchasing the disc.  You got what you paid for. Remember, you didn’t even know it was there until CAPCOM told you so.

And to be honest… this is all easier for the developers when it is already on the disc. They have had time to test it with the main game… They don’t have to install any patches to make sure the game is correctly suited for extra content. They don’t have to make sure everything will download correctly. It’s all there already.

So in short, I wish people would stop complaining. When you pay $60 for a game, you are paying for the right to play what was advertised on the box. You pay more for anything else (regardless of where it is kept) because that anything else was never figured into that sixty dollar price tag. If you want to play something that isn’t advertised as something you paid for (regardless of where it is kept), you have to pay up. There aren’t any real downsides to DLC being on the disc anyway. It only bothers people because they aren’t downloading their downloadable content.

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