Oh dear, 2K. Oh dearie dearie me. And there was me thinking that the bad old days of DLC were over.
Downloadable content on console got off to a bad start with the infamous Horse Armour in Oblivion, which cost 200 Microsoft Points for what amounted to an expensive costume change. But gradually developers began to get to grips with the system, with the likes of extra maps for first-person shooters, car packs for racers, and in particular Criterion’s free expansions for Burnout Paradise, showing how DLC should be done.
Unfortunately, Bioshock 2 developer 2K has firmly set the Delorean’s time circuits for 2006, since the DLC released for the game yesterday appears to already be on the disc. Yes, the download you’re paying 400 MS points for, only takes up 108k of memory on Xbox 360 and even less on PC, which isn’t nearly enough to hold the data for the increased rank levels in multiplayer, the new playable characters, the new trials, the additional masks, and the new weapon upgrades.
The customer is being diddled. It’s an unlock code.
The whole issue of DLC is a bit of a fudge, as there’s nothing illegal about asking people to pay extra for something that’s already on the disc. After all, you’re not actually paying for the content when buying a game – instead you’re paying for the license to play content, which doesn’t have to mean everything on the disc.
It’s basically a gentlemen’s agreement that hiding content to be paid for later isn’t acceptable, and there’s a lingering suspicion that this entente cordiale only exists because of the potential risk of bad publicity if the customer thinks he’s being screwed.
My view on DLC is simple. If the content hasn’t been finished by the time the game ships – in other words, if it’s genuine extra content over and above what’s already in there – then it’s perfectly legitimate to charge for it. If, on the other hand, the new stuff is done but purposely left off the disc, or is part of this “unlock code” caper, then it should be free.
This isn’t rocket-science. It’s just common sense. It’s just what’s fair.
Given some of the controversy regarding DLC over the past few years – and I personally regard the option of paying to get late-game content more quickly in some EA games, as true “buyer beware, fool and his money” territory – I reckon it would be good for Microsoft and Sony to actually write some proper guidelines on what is and isn’t acceptable, DLC-wise, before the launch of their next consoles (whenever that may be). These could then be rigorously enforced.
Hell, they could even do this for their existing consoles, and make sure the new rules are adhered to from now on.
Rule 1: don’t be greedy gits.