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On-Disc DLC


PriZm
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If I find out about a game having on-disc DLC, I will generally not buy that game. Most recently, I was contemplating picking up Street Fighter x Tekken right up till I heard the DLC characters are on disc.

My rationale is pretty simple. I disagree wholeheartedly with microtransaction business models. It is a deceptive business practice. How much is Street Fighter x Tekken? $60, right? Well to the average consumer, yes. But if you want to unlock all the content, we're probably talking close to $80 if not more. It's a hidden cost.

The natural counterargument is that it's optional content, but I disagree with that argument. Before microtransactions, optional content like extra characters were a reward for skill in games. You unlock Smash Bros. characters by being good at the game or by accomplishing certain feats. But you paid a single price for the game. What you unlocked was up to you. Now you pay $60 for a game disc, which, in my mind, means you are entitled to all of that disc's content. To the extent that the microtransaction business model precludes you from accessing certain content that you are quite literally holding in your hand, I disagree with it.

This calls into question the issue of ownership. When you buy something, you don't obtain the product per se; you obtain title to it. Title is a legal fiction that most people are familiar with in the sense that they have the title to their cars. Under the microtransaction theory, you have title to anything available or unlockable through the normal course of gameplay on the disc. You do not have title to the additional content unlockable through the purchase of DLC codes.

This leads to a more fundamental question regarding ownership of video games and other digital media like DVDs: are you paying for the disc or the digital code? I argue that when I buy something, I am paying for the physical product and thereby gain the right to do anything I want with that product that does not adversely affect anyone else (so if I buy a gun, I have every right to shoot it at a range or in other legal circumstances, but I have no right to use it to shoot someone absent legal justification). Companies say they're giving you the code on the disc, so whether you have a physical representation of it or not is irrelevant because you're paying for the code itself. Admittedly my approach is more supportive of piracy. If you focus on the physical media, you wouldn't dare shoplift a DVD from a store because it's not yours. However, you'd download that same movie from a torrent because you're not getting something physical; you just have the digital file, which is without physicality and therefore valueless. iTunes would beg to differ with the assessment of a song you download from them as being valueless, but in a very real way, it is. They have a literally infinite availability of downloads available for every song on the site. Whether they sell 100 or 1,000,000, they can never run out. Therefore, there is no scarcity and no chance of it increasing in value (an mp3, as a rule, can never be worth the same as an old, collectible record because there is no scarcity whatsoever, even if it was available for 1 minute online, because if one other person downloaded it, infinite perfect copies can spawn from that single download).

Getting back to on-disc DLC, I think your approach to it tends to reflect whether you believe you are getting the physical product or the code when you buy a game. I would only caution that if you take the latter approach, as the companies would prefer, you are encouraging them to include hidden costs in the price of a game by telling them it's okay for them to put content on the disc you paid full price for and then allowing them to charge additional money to be able to make full use of that disc.

As a note, I'm not opposed to all DLC. Borderlands' DLC is an example of it being done right.

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I used the term way too liberally and very wrong apparently but I do like to dig around in games and find what's under the surface, particular the things I don't necessarily have to pay for. :]

Yeah, I have some friends that use the term like you did, and couldn't help from giving a correction. Seems to be one of those somewhat widely spread terms that isn't used correctly :P

Edit: and so I can actually add to the conversation.

Day 1 DLC (the kind that's online) doesn't necessarily mean the content was done before/as the game went gold. There is a period of time between gold and release where companies could make some dlc.

Edit 2: in response to XZero about how we used to have to accomplish certain tasks to unlock characters. Think about it this way. What if somebody really really likes a character and wants to use them, but unlocking that character is too big a feat for them. Now they can just pay to unlock that character instead of wasting countless hours trying to do an 'old skool' unlock. As lazy as that sounds, I'm sure there are people out there.

Like the re-release of street fighter 3: third strike for instance. You could either beat the game with *every* character to unlock Gil, or you can buy him, if you don't feel like doing all that.

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Day 1 DLC (the kind that's online) doesn't necessarily mean the content was done before/as the game went gold. There is a period of time between gold and release where companies could make some dlc.

We're not talking about that, though. Everyone here by now has already reconciled the fact that there's a time frame where devs could pump out more content then offer it online.

We're talking about stuff that clearly made it in time to go gold, production, and shipping.

To be fair(however unlikely), in the case of SFxT it might be possible that they went gold earlier than anticipated and went straight into DLC creation, and maybe an event occurred which prevented them from going into production on time(shit happens), so someone had the idea that putting all the now-completed DLC on the disc would save everyone future headaches(sound plan), but they can't release it all at once due to (stupid)contractual obligations with Sony. Since this is a pretty internal thing that could deal with workflow and supply processes, then it makes sense that they don't specify further than they have.

Or not. Who knows? I don't.

Edit 2: in response to XZero about how we used to have to accomplish certain tasks to unlock characters. Think about it this way. What if somebody really really likes a character and wants to use them, but unlocking that character is too big a feat for them. Now they can just pay to unlock that character instead of wasting countless hours trying to do an 'old skool' unlock. As lazy as that sounds, I'm sure there are people out there.

Cheat codes.

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The only DLC I'm against is when there are *essential* pieces of a game that are sold for extra money. Additional audio tracks, characters, outfits, levels, etc, aren't essential, so I am fine with them. Even new modes of play, which often used to be included in expansions, are now called DLS instead and I'm fine with that. Compared to expansions, DLC is probably easier for game companies to manage and easier to release, and it has the advantage for the rest of us that we don't have to wait as long before a game can get content updates.

Here's something to consider as a counter to the "but it's already finished!" argument. A lot of DLC requires little to no work to be done by programmers, and programmers are the big holdup in most game titles. Once the art assets or audio are done for a game, those artists and musicians need to move on to a new project, create new content for the current project, or sit idly (and get paid for doing so) until the team starts on the next project; they might as well be creating things outside the original scope of the game that can be monetized for the company.

And sure, that content is often on the disc on day one, but why get annoyed over it? You're not being ripped off in any way; the company could choose not to put the content on the disc, regardless of when it's ready, and still charge for it. Seems like a sense of entitlement to me: "they created it before the game shipped, so I *deserve* it; I can't get it, so I'm upset"

One somewhat related thing that does annoy me: some games are starting to have "multiplayer passes" - you buy the game retail, and you get a multiplayer pass in the box, but if you buy it second-hand, presumably the multiplayer pass has already been used, so you need to buy one directly for maybe $10 if you want to do more than the single-player mode. On its own, I'm cool with this; it's a great way for game companies to compete against the used game market, which has to have a significant impact on profits.

What I'm not cool with is this: I bought a Vita on day one, and tend to buy my Vita and PSP games through the PlayStation Store if they're games that I'm going to a) want to keep, not play once and B) play occasionally. A good example here is Hot Shots Golf: I want it through the PlayStation Store so I can keep it on my memory card, making it easy to play the game occasionally without swapping game cartridges. I haven't tried any online matches yet, but I've heard that for downloadable copies of the game, you need to spend $10 extra for the online pass. The game is $40 retail and $36 through the store (most online games that are also retail are sold at a 10% discount because of the lack of physical packaging). The problem here is that by choosing to download the game, and not purchase a physical copy (which, incidentally, gives more money to both Sony and the developer by bypassing the brick-and-mortar middleman), I'm being asked to pay *more* than retail; I'm being penalized for buying online. Not cool.

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We're not talking about that, though. Everyone here by now has already reconciled the fact that there's a time frame where devs could pump out more content then offer it online.

Somebody mentioned Day-1 dlc, so I was just offering my counter argument to that point.

And perhaps here is another explanation as to why SFxT has on disc DLC. Expanding on Malaki's post a bit. Lets say the studio says "Ok we're going to have X and Y in the game, and Z will be DLC". Maybe the people who were working on Z got it done quicker than usual, or X and Y took longer than anticipated. It was *already* planned that Z was going to be DLC, and they aren't just going to include it for free if it was already planned to be paid content. The revenue was already planned for, and if they just included it, then that is lost revenue. So maybe they said, "well lets just put it on the disc so we dont have to waste bandwidth, and so users dont have to waste so much time downloading it"

Of course, this is all speculation. I'm just trying to point out that there may be other reasons then "lolololololololololololol money!"

p.s. DLC is what the industry is heading to. Get over it, and quit bitching.

p.p.s. I will also agree with people who are mad about having to buy *critical* parts of a game.

p.p.p.s. money is the new cheat codes

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Is that not the proper term? Compsci = Computer Scientist

what do all these other people you know say?

I guess of all the friends and acquaintances I've had in the field, none pursued the science of computing as their career path. They're all either programmers or software designers, or web designers or sysadmins now.

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I guess of all the friends and acquaintances I've had in the field, none pursued the science of computing as their career path. They're all either programmers or software designers, or web designers or sysadmins now.

*shrugs* I just use the broad term since I learned a broad range of things in the field.

Wouldn't really make sense to say "I'm an X(specific term), and as such I should know about datamining", when datamining probably doesn't quite fall in to the X category. While using the broad term makes more sense to me.

p.s. aaaaaand.. lets stop discussing this in this thread :P

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It isn't actually, because they shouldn't be charging for extra characters.

I don't really see why not, save for the fact that we as customers want the most bang for our buck (which would be nice, but isn't wrong of them to withhold from the customer if they want to). Beside that, the easy compatibility work around makes good sense.

I don't see what the problem with on disc DLC is. If the DLC were available as off disc downloadable content instead, would it be as upsetting? I don't think the fact that it's sealed away on the disc means that it's the customer's right to have immediate access to it unless the creator/publisher says that it is any more than if the material is obtained from the web as DLC.

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look at me I'm a privileged north american

somehow my media-addled brain cannot understand why buying a box that you later have to buy the key for is capitalist extortion

Extortion? lol. Yes, these damned publishers are coercing us into buying their boxes, else we might have "a little accident." I have to pay them protection money every damned month just so they won't activate the bomb in my gaming console's core and blow up my house!

OK Bleck.

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I can't imagine the size of the files for these extra costumes is so high that, on a relatively high speed connection (you know, the kind that are required at minimum to play on these online services), you can't download one in about 5-10 seconds if you're playing an online match with someone who has it and you don't. I think since Unreal Tournament 99, games have been allowing client-side mod downloads on the fly for compatibility. Having it on the disc should clearly and ultimately define the content as NOT DLC. It isn't downloadable content if you already have it on the disc.

People are making so many suppositions and excuses for why Capcom may have had it on the disc before the game went gold but decided to lock it and charge for a key. Even taking their reasoning for game compatibility at face value shows that they did have it done before the game went to print, and that for whatever reason it was locked on some versions with the only way to use it being a downloadable key file.

Granted, people who don't care about costumes or whatever won't buy them for $5 because they don't want to. It's a very slippery slope downhill though, and we're already seeing some DLC being game breaking, on-disc or not.

Look at the Dragon Age 2 DLC, specifically the item packs. These are items that change the balance of the game. Whether or not it is core content, that's like paying to have a leg-up in the game. Sooner or later this kind of content will translate into things relevant for online games, and invariably some of it will already be on the disc if these trends keep up.

So I see charging for costumes a slippery slope to charging for characters and worse, but the fact that its already On-Disc should both necessitate a change in what it is called, and also be a very clear point that, depending on your perspective, you might not be getting what you pay for when you purchase a game off the shelves these days.

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I can't imagine the size of the files for these extra costumes is so high that, on a relatively high speed connection (you know, the kind that are required at minimum to play on these online services), you can't download one in about 5-10 seconds if you're playing an online match with someone who has it and you don't.

It's not really about that. Console games have a sort of hard cap in place for how much a developer can require someone to download post-launch cumulatively. Anything a player has to download, regardless of whether or not they want it, counts toward that limit. Usually, it's just Title Updates, but with the scenario you're describing, it's characters, which could easily break the limit. For the Xbox 360, it's 256MB. I don't know how high it is for the PS3, but I'd be willing to bet it's also around there.

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Extortion? lol. Yes, these damned publishers are coercing us into buying their boxes, else we might have "a little accident." I have to pay them protection money every damned month just so they won't activate the bomb in my gaming console's core and blow up my house!

OK Bleck.

He said capitalist extortion, not just extortion. :roll:

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