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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Gamer Roulette: DLC for You and Me

Eric Parra |
March 17, 2012 | 1:40 p.m. PDT

Staff Columnist

Kanto to Hyrule, Mobius to Santa Destroy, Planet Reach to Little Big Planet, Cinema Student, Screenwriter, and all around gamer, Eric Parra is a bad enough dude to bring you your weekly fix on relative gaming. Whether it’s reviews, previews, or FAQs, matters that are professional or just personal, make sure you check Neon Tommy every week for all sorts of interesting tidbits in the world of video games. And remember, it’s dangerous to go alone.

Gamers' reaction to Smash Bros being delayed (gamrland)
Gamers' reaction to Smash Bros being delayed (gamrland)

Going back quite a few years, game developers used to cram everything they could into a game. Sometimes there were release dates, sometimes new games just came out. Eventually (to meet expectations) almost all games were given an approximation of when they creators should stop cramming their game full of awesome ideas and functions and actually release it to the demanding public. 

Great companies (in their prime) would push back their release dates and postpone the inevitable great game so they could actually fitmore for the owner’s alleged enjoyment (like tripping in Smash Bros Brawl”). This didn’t go over well, and so things seemed to have changed.

We’re in a new future though, and game developers learned a neat trick. People will pay for more. They’ve got deadlines, but why rush for them? The internet has given the power to perform online updates at any time after the release, so glitches, bugs, plot-holes, can all be fixed with some patches and spin off novels/comics/TV shows. 

But then came DLC. Downloadable Content. This was cool. Imagine playing a game and loving it (Street Fighter IV for instance), and out of nowhere, viola! New costumes! Or maybe Mass Effect or Bioshock, and you can actually get a few bonus missions or add-on plot relevant levels.  

The drawback, unfortunately, is that DLC costs money. Why should developers put in more hard work for their already published game when they’re not going to get paid for the extra effort? For the pleasure of their loyal fans? Yeah, that’ll take them far.

Seriously though, DLC is a gold mine nowadays. People want more, and they’re only going to get it from one place. Leave fans to their imagination will only lead to fanfiction. Hence Red Dead Redemption’s neat “Undead Nightmare” which is essentially a western turned zombie outbreak story with legendary animals. Yeah I’d buy that. (Note: my brother bought it.)

Capcom's rererererereleasing strategy (tvtropes)
Capcom's rererererereleasing strategy (tvtropes)

So what exactly is the problem, you might ask? My story comes from Capcom’s latest marketing craze: hold game content back untilyou can make a profit through rereleasing. What that means is that Capcom will go out of their way to make downloadable content for the sake of downloadable content. Marvel vs Capcom 3, for instance, was a very incomplete $70 game (for the special edition). You had some characters, some levels, and some sort of story, but that was about it. For an extra fee, you could download some extra AI (pay to play against “different” computers), two new characters (which were already on the disc, but incomplete) and of course, alternate costumes.  Perish the thought of unlocking anything for playing the game, like Dead or Alive does with its character costumes. Capcom wants you to pay for their hard effort and artistic work. 

And I was okay with all of that. Mostly because I didn’t care for the game and it’s high level through simplicity mechanics, but I won’t delve into that can of worms.

Now that Street Fighter X Tekken is out, a whole new range of problems has sprung into the open. Capcom has essentially taken DLC to stand for “Disc-Locked Content” and put all of their DLC on the disc already. So what a player gets is actually a semi-playable game with new costumes for everyone and 12 extra characters that cannot be accessed. Proof of this is from people who hacked their console games (with relative ease) and showcased the complete character/costumes/ and everything you could possibly need to make a game more complete. 

Just today, a confirmation was released about the date and pricing of all of the DLC, upon purchase would give the spender a code that would unlock everything already on the disc. The $70 disc. And to add to that, the overall price for DLC alone would be $39, which means that if I wanted to do things the honest way (unlike Capcom) I’d pay $109 for this already complete game, whereas there are already people using all of these features for free (with the exclusion of having paid for the game.)

I wouldn’t care nearly as much if the game had more content already available, but alas, all I get is a few fights and that’s about it. 

There are other stories that I’m not too familiar with. I know the Mass Effect fans have been in a tizzy ever since 3 came out, complaining about the already scheduled DLC or something or another. But this just seems to be a new marketing plan by everyone. I know “Twilight” took advantage of unnecessary prolonging by splitting their easily finishable movie into two parts, and supposedly “Hunger Games” will be doing the same. 

As they say, “money makes the world go round.” People will inevitable pay for what they can, sometimes even if they can’t, and so companies will take advantage of that and pull in the profit. I don’t blame them for their decisions; I just wish it didn’t always work so things could be more fair. But I also wish that I had the power to manipulate gravity. And a pony. 

Sometimes our wishes just don’t work out. And sometimes you just don’t get a pony.


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