What I find really depressing is that so many people will pay over the odds for this DLC. Some will get their money’s worth out of it because they’re dedicated to the game, but that’s no justification for the price of entry.
Bioshock 2’s “Sinclair Solutions” pack (released shortly after the launch of the game) came under scrutiny when the size of the download was supiciously small. 2K games later confirmed that the content it contained was already on the disc and users were paying to unlock it. Their excuse was that this was they had to do that, otherwise those who didn’t have the DLC wouldn’t be able to play with those who did. The obvious point they didn’t address is that people paid for the DLC content on the disc when they bought the game, but couldn’t access it unless they paid extra.
DLC released day and date with the release of a game has become a contentious issue. In some cases it’s a pre-order bonus or an extra incentive to buy the game new instead of pre-owned. Fair enough. Extra content that couldn’t be included because the disc had gone to press? Well… maybe it happens. But asking people to pay through the nose because you’ve restricted them from using finished content they already own, that’s just sleazy.
It’s even starting to have an knock-on effect on the main game. Assassin’s Creed 2 has become notorious for having large gaps in it’s story, which were later sold as DLC. Patrice Desilets, the game’s lead designer, has admitted that those sections were originally part of the main story, but were cut because they needed to drop some pieces in order to “reduce some stress on the team”. That’s a bit rich. Epic released DLC with a chapter of Gears of War 2 they had dropped, but they smoothed out the (admittedly thin) story in the finished game to cover the gap. Instead re-working their story or pushing the game’s release back to incorporate everything, Ubisoft released a product with the equivalent of a “Scene Missing” card in two places and charged for the missing reels.
I’m fine with paid DLC, particularly when it adds to the single-player experience (Fallout 3’s extra side-missions are a great example). But with free DLC becoming an increasingly endangered species, it’s time to vote with our wallets, people. Who’s with me?