On-Disc DLC Outrage Is Off the Mark

Anger over post-release content locked away on the retail disc should be directed at nickel-and-diming business models, not focused on the logistics of content delivery.


In the last couple of weeks, gamers have expressed no shortage of outrage at finding downloadable content locked away on the retail release discs for Mass Effect 3 and Street Fighter X Tekken. They argue that by buying the disc, they own all the content on it and shouldn't be made to pay extra to access it at a later date.

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On-disc DLC in Street Fighter X Tekken has many players spoiling for a fight.

The heart of the argument makes sense, but specifically attacking the practice of on-disc DLC is a tactical misstep. Publishers bank on DLC in their business plans, and putting it on the disc that ships is simply a matter of convenience for them. If the unthinkable happened and gamers rose as one unified front tomorrow and refused to buy any game with on-disc DLC forever more, publishers would simply leave it off the disc and force players to download it later (when it will use up a gamer's time and hard-drive space, in addition to money). At that point, it's a matter of semantics and logistics for the publishers, of carefully managing how the deal is presented to players to minimize outrage. And rest assured it will happen, as semantics and logistics are about the only two things at which publishers truly excel.

As a result, determining how to best combat the practice of on-disc DLC requires first identifying what's at the heart of the discontent. (Hint: As is so often the case, it's all about money.) When gamers spend $60 on a hotly anticipated new title like Mass Effect 3 or Street Fighter X Tekken, they rightfully want it to feel like a big deal. After investing that much money and anticipation in a brand new game, they expect the total package, the whole enchilada, the Full Monty, if you will. (But we hope you won't.)

The heart of the argument makes sense, but specifically attacking the practice of on-disc DLC is a tactical misstep.

Unfortunately, it's difficult--or simply more expensive--to achieve that these days, as a $60 purchase is rarely comprehensive. There's often an assortment of retailer-exclusive preorder bonuses, downloadable content, and perhaps a collector's edition at a $20 to $90 markup. And that naturally alienates gamers who feel that $60 is worthy of a first-rate, fully featured experience. And let's not even dwell on the avalanche of post-release DLC, the nickel-and-diming (or $5 and $10-ing) of map packs, modes, and costumes that can double the total cost of a complete AAA game over its life span. And with season passes, gamers have started preordering content that they don't know anything about, even though history has shown the quality of such add-ons varies wildly, even for the best games.

This trend shouldn't come as a big surprise to those who follow the industry, as publishers have been pushing gamers down this road for years. When the Xbox 360 launched, Microsoft kept its first-party titles at the previous generation's $50 price point because it was so scared of hurting sales. But by the time Gears of War rolled around the following year, consumers had embraced the $60 standard with nary a peep, and the race was on to find a gamer's pain point when it came to pricing. All the while, the soaring costs of high-definition game development prodded previously prudent publishers to risk running afoul of their fan bases.

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Even if gamers stop buying titles with on-disc DLC, publishers will just keep it off the disc in the future, and the fundamental problem will remain the same.

The solution to the problem is to let publishers know that they've already blown past the pain point and to tell them we've had our fill. But it can't just be about on-disc DLC, or day-one DLC, or collector's editions, or season passes. It needs to be communicated to the publishers in sweeping fashion that gamers want a complete experience for a fair price or we simply won't pay. We need to tell them to present us with information on all extraneous content ahead of time--including pricing and release dates--so that we can make a more informed decision on whether to hand over our money. We need to tell them not to cut up expansions into a dozen $5 add-on packs, not to claim the retail game is a complete stand-alone package one week and the story-based DLC meaningfully fills in gaps the next.

The only alternative is to keep paying full price for less-than-full games.

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Avatar image for ShengLong2005

What is worse about this 'on-disc DLC' for SFxT ...

Console Game released March.

PC Game released May.

Console on-disc DLC released end of July, planned for October.

PC DLC, which does need a full 1.06 patch, planned for September, also originally planned for October.

Don't fix zero-day implementation...

Fix companies like Capcom who, with content that has already been pushed to console, sitting on their laurels and using console exclusivity to release it unfashionably late.

Oh yes, and Capcom, I'd have preferred it even more if you'd pushed them as six two character packs, not one massively over-priced bundle. Namco can release the latecomers for TTT2 totally free, so why can't you, just to say 'Sorry' for once?

Avatar image for badron11

This isn't a big deal to me. I don't have the internet where i live so I have to go to my friend's house that is 30 miles away with my xbox, my computer screen, and whatever games I have, just to download updates and get DLC. This speeds up the process for me, and if it's on the disc already fine. If it's not, fine. It just means I have to wait longer for it to download. What people should be mad about is pre-order bonuses that mean you must get the game day one or miss out on stuff that other people will have just because they have the money to get releases no matter how many come out that day(like 11/15 of last year's multiple cluster bleep). Or they got up to the store to get the legendary or whatever stuff first.

Avatar image for beny_pimpster

whos da jack ass who introduced dlc on consoles anyways ? games these days are making old school gamers quit

Avatar image for Human-Pheonix

In my opinon dlc is like a double edged sword. If yu think about it. It has its benefits but also has it drawbacks.

Avatar image for ApocaLeepse

I hate the moment DLC was ever made available for consoles. Ever since then publishers have been trying to rip us gamers off. At least with PC games, people mod in extra content FOR FREE.

Avatar image for kounterfeit

DLC is a scam. havent bought any since call of duty 2. not mw 2 cod2. thats when it was done right. dlc right after a game comes out is a rip off. if its ready put it in the game and release the dlc later down the road and i would gladly purchase it. sadly this is the way its gonna be becuase im in the minority here. i guess this is a good thing for me because it saves me money

Avatar image for max_1111

@LuminousWounds Unless it's a significant amount content, post release DLC is also a scam job. Four maps for $15 (i'm looking at you Activision/CoD), for example, is a COMPLETE SCAM, no ifs ands or buts.

Avatar image for jark888

To GS staffs, game publishers, and fellow gamers; This could become one of the all time highest participating forums which shows how concern we are about DLC matter. After skimming through all of the pages so far, I could hardly find anyone supporting business practice concerning DLC. * New released games with DLC feature = crippled games. PRO: get your hand on them first. CON: you may end up paying up to $100 or more for 1 game+all of its DLC. * Post released games = (usually) the complete edition games. PRO: you can save up to 80% or more and enjoy the most comprehensive version of the games. CON: It may take year(s) to get to this rate. Why DLC is WRONG considering it could be included in the disc! It is the waste of time (for complexity), hard drive space, money (to purchase DLC and possibly another HDD). It will be more complicate to transfer DLC from console to console or to next generation console(if you can). It obviously doesn't comply with Go Green campaign. You can protest business practice concerning DLC by making sure that the game you're about to buy does NOT have DLC. Suggesting solutions: DLC should ONLY exist for righteous reason (e.g. not to unlock content on the disc but brand new content to celebrate the success of the game or to thanks for consumer support).DLC should be available for free to fix issue, enhance gaming experience (gamer should not be charged for content that's supposed to be in the game), or promote the sale of the game. If there should be any charge for DLC, it should be one time small fee (15% of game cost maximum) for complete unlimited (if possible) online access and all of its extra content(s). More DLC creation would promote the game sale and the mentioned fee.

Avatar image for rey2

This trend has to stop. The idea of giving us a product with stuff locked in, Can only be opened by making us pay for it all over again then making a new version a year later. Done 3x already this current gen but already milked to death in the past. Yes, that's you capcom. We're already seeing why most gaming companies want to go the digital distribution route. It's ugly business practice and they don't care at all as long as they get our money.

Avatar image for ZoTrAcK

It's only about using our brain and common sense.

Avatar image for Atzenkiller

the solution couldnt be easier: people should stop buying dlc. but since they are willig to pay for any crap extra itl'll only get worse. thats what got us here in the first place

Avatar image for dicegamer

it all about greed

Avatar image for dicegamer

i have no comment on this i am more outrage on this more as anybody and still is i will buy a add-on packs because i not going to have incomplete game with the fighter on street fighter x tekken i want to buy as in offline battle to showoff my friends to play as them online i never like mass effect series i play demo i didn't like it i rather play killzone 3 and way not

Avatar image for AngstOverlord

Content stored on a disc for later release cannot really be branded 'DLC'. It's inaccurate. This content is not being downloaded. Downloading hex keys such as in Beautiful Katamari's case did not qualify nor does this. Revise your terminology. Katamari caused a ruckus 'back then' despite its pricetag being below the average, $40 I believe. The explanation provided amounted to something along the lines of the extra stages originally being proper downloadables at the time of the Japanese release but when the North American pressing came about they could be and were stored on the disc. Blocking the content supposedly resulted in the lower retail pricepoint and could have been a move to gain more sales. 'Everything' resulted in a roughly $60 game although some of the additions were criminally short. DAMN YOU WOOL-BASED PLANET! ... Anyhow, the current situation is an entirely different kettle of worms. Metering content purposefully for a full-priced product is cartoonishly evil and I refuse to condone this idiocy by purchasing the affected titles. There are plenty of games which aren't involved in such underhanded shennaniganry... which reminds me, I do have that Fallout 3 downloaded content I've yet to explore... that ain't on the disc, no sir!

Avatar image for akmex

I love how multi million dollar companies love to rob us. Greedy people.

Avatar image for LuminousWounds

Let's speak simply....we gamers are upset about on disc DLC content because we know it's only been made that way because they want to milk more money out of us. I think everyone is fine with DLC after the game's release because there is still the impression that they've gone and created additional content to help extend the life of the game. However, if the content is already on the retail disc...locked away from us...then the obvious perception is that they are just milking us gamers...and THEY ARE. Don't lock away a part of the game on the retail disc and then pretend that it's extra content that you've created...give us the full game...then create new extensions for us to keep the game alive and enjoyable.

Avatar image for rahmie0789

if u guys are mad now, wait until the "next gen" consoles with their $600 hardware prices, $100 "tablet" controllers, and $70 games. Oh, and you cant buy them used or bring your game to you buddies house either.

Avatar image for japanesegoth

i'm about 2 years behind on games for this reason and i'm doing just fine. i just recently picked up mass effect 1. i waited until the release of ultimate marvel vs capcom 3. i'm doing my part to protest day-one and on-disc DLC.

Avatar image for Douille1666

The problem in the video game/music/cinema/book/etc industry is that the "business" part of the process has become way too big. Its quite understandable that people want to make enough money to pay their bills and maybe a little (or big) extra, but the fact that money has become the #1 priority is pretty sad. We get crappy blockbusters with tones of special effects that will please children and adults alike, but anger true cinephiles. Radio stations play simplified music made from concentrate that will sell a lot to teenagers for a year or two and talented artists are pushed aside because they care about music and won't release two albums a year. Sadly we also get incomplete games that will cost us a fortune afterward and gamers will buy them anyway, because we are told that this is the way things are. "Eat what you are fed, and shut up" is the message we get. This is what happens when the arts of entertainement fall in the hand of business men. As Steven Wilson would say : "One of the wonders of the world is going down, and it's one of the blunders of the world that no one cares enough."

Avatar image for SDSkarface

we all should have bucked against DLC the very first day now its become an acceptable trend and the snowball is already rolling. i always buy the game and never the DLC, unfortunately it seems in the future the very endings of the games themselves the final plotline might itself be DLC forcing consumers to buy it just to get closure.

Avatar image for neprisistates

As I said, it costs money to make a good game, people who fail to realise this need a reality check

Avatar image for Ed_Wuncler_III

Nobody is forcing anyone to buy anything. Just deal with it. It's not going to change no matter what gets said. They will always find a way to nickle and dime people. Expecting companies to stop thinking of ways to make money is just rediclious. Now thumbs down please.

Avatar image for fadersdream

I disagree with everything this guy writes. Ever.

Avatar image for chazy035

being a gamer has become quite a luxury...

Avatar image for SsjZero

I think I had enough of this crap when UMVC3 was released...it could have been such a great game if they would've just taken their time. We payed money for a couple of crappy new characters and that was it. I've had enough with this "on disc" DLC...especially when it sucks. Just take your time and release a full game instead of raping us for chump change. *cough*Capcom*cough*

Avatar image for tonyhawksP8

I refuse to buy new on EA I wouldn't encourage them, they're probably the worst of the bunch shutdown server for games no longer turning a profit, OP DLC, online passes, micro-transaction, Origin, day-1 DLC they truly have insulted gamers in so many ways its kind of hard to trust them.

Avatar image for painpas

Here is what they want from us. Each publisher wants to become some sort of Xbox live for each game. They want a subscription model like an MMO. They would like $60 then like 10$ a month to get updates. This is where we are headed. I am done with gaming once it gets to that point. There is no forward thinking or there are too many people making analogies with more reasonably fair business models like an MMO. At the end of the day for all the disc content that it took them record time to make because this is a meter system management fighter you will pay a lot of money. 20$ for the 12 characters and I think I say that some colour packs yes colour packs will cost you something.

Avatar image for Agent-M

This evil and greedy move sounds like something only Scrooge McDuck is capable of doing.

Avatar image for deadmonkey76

and thats why I dont buy games new if and when they do things like selling games that have blocked content so they can charge us latter and I dont buy games new that make you use a crappy online code to ulock multiplayer so they can suck 10 bucks out of consumers thats horse crap what these corp bastards do to us always trying to milk a dry cow

Avatar image for nate1222

Every time you all paid $60 for a game, then the microtran$actions that followed, you basically rewarded publishers for doing this to you. With every purchase you basically told them that it was a-ok to perpetually milk you. Vote with your damn dollar and STOP feeding the damn beast!

Avatar image for Caffeine__Fiend

Actually it's not a matter of semantics and logistics. It's a matter of a company lying to customers in order to make money from them. Also, this isn't the only issue that customers are having with BioWare and EA. A simple Google search will show you the many other issues customers are having with both companies. In regards to the DLC: "The content in From Ashes was developed by a separate team after the core game was finished and not completed until well after the the main game went into certification." BioWare Mass Effect 3 Associate Producer Michael Gamble (February 22, 2012) http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/323/index/9403705/1 "We would never take stuff out of the core game and only have it in DLC" BioWare Mass Effect 3 Executive Producer Casey Hudson (March 2, 2012) http://www.oxm.co.uk/39384/mass-effect-3-dlc-is-sugar-on-top-always-optional/ Although I agree in part to what you wrote and I give you props to writing anything remotely pro-player, I feel that the fact that BioWare blatantly lied to its customers about the DLC should've been included in your article. Also, I feel that customers' issues with the DLC aren't just a singular problem with BioWare and EA, but part of many multifaceted issues that all stem from the corruption and greed of both companies. You said that the solution to the problem is for us to let the publishers know how we feel. I think Gamespot should do the same by stop plugging games like these and honestly review them.

Avatar image for Iamshmee

Here is the real trick folks. Don't buy the crap for 6 months. AAA titles are dropping into the $20-30 within 6 months of release because the economy isn't doing well. If you want to support a company you truly love or producer, buy it up on day one for $60. If it's garbage from Capcom just wait for 6 months. Super Ultimate Streetfight x Tekken Lightning Force Hadouken Edition will probably be out then for $30 brand new with all this extra $200 worth of content on it. I abandoned Capcom anyways when they abandoned Megaman... Oh yeah and their respect for the customers.

Avatar image for texazstreetz

this is almost the same concept as Call of Duty's $60 map packs they come out with every year.

Avatar image for x_hunter00

@Alucard9114 "Call of Duty is the same thing every year"? Can you please this explain how it's the same? The way i see it is that every CoD game is different than the previous one. I also want to know what makes you so highly superior to justify calling other people morons and blaming them for the "terrible" state of the industry?

Avatar image for angelknight32

I think that Brendan is making a very valid point. On Disc DLC is just a delivery method but I would be more focused on developers like Capcom not making it clear what its plans were for the content itself. It will cost about $120 in total to get the 12 new characters and all the alternate costumes for Street Fighter X Tekken. So for a full game experience you are paying $180 and all you got was an instruction manual. Some of these developers are price gouging gamers and we seem to put the blame elsewhere. Getting angry that DLC is already on the disc is like getting upset at the syringe for delivering the lethal injection. I trust gaming companies far less these days when Capcom and Bioware are doing questionable things as far as business practices go. I also think that we as gamers have the right to experience the full content of a product without having to shell out ridiculous amounts of money for Collector's edition. This is not right by any stretch of the imagination and also unethical in my opinion.

Avatar image for zintarr

I love Gamespot telling us, the consumers, what we should think...lets break out the Kool-aid.

Avatar image for babyjoker973

If the game entertains you then stop crying and stop being cheap..or just play the nintendo wii. No one is forcing people to buy games or consoles.

Avatar image for lordquasar

I have never paid for DLC and I never will. Well I did buy a map pack, but it was not worth it.

Avatar image for mgools

I am glad I waited. I will not be buying from any company that does this, or has downloadable content on day one, and will not buy from companies who release half a game and then come by with dlc. There are so many games out there that I don't have to put up with it.

Avatar image for CGOWAddict

I'm all for telling these companies about all this content being on the disk already and I have to pay more to unlock it. Epic/Microsoft did it with Gears 3 and it sucks knowing I already own it. But if I get into the disk and unlock all that then I would be in violation and possible be banned from playing.

Avatar image for YukoAsho

@supa_stud I'm with you, bro. I've never bought any DLC, never will, and have never felt short-changed by a game.Nickel-and-dime DLC in particular adds nothing, at all, no matter what the publishers say, and I've never felt bad in not having it. @devodevin - You're onto something. A lot of gamers are horribly OCD and just HAVE to have everything that gets made, and it's hideous to see Capcom and EA preying on that. Gamers need to realize that, for the most part, DLC isn't necessary to have fun with a game, and stop buying it.

Avatar image for devodevin

Its marketing ploy towards gamers that need to have it all, whoohoo how difficult to understand and deeply controversial * sigh *

Avatar image for Jag-T1000

This is why I stopped buying games full priced. In two or three weeks this games will be on sale for $40 and then I'll buy it.

Avatar image for neprisistates

I dont see the problem here, making a game cost money, making a game with good graphics on a low end console with custom cpu costs even more money, and a current gen of gaming is all about graphics, everybody wants good graphics, forget gameplay, graphics is the most important thing. Therefore you have to pay for it. $80-90 for a full game sounds about right.

Avatar image for Techn1c4l

This is the result of gaming going mainstream. There are too many people who spend hundreds of bucks and think that is okay. Now publishers think that gamers have a lot of money, have gaming addiction and willing to spend a lot for their best g4meh ev4r! Almost every game receives a lot of hype. And then more hype there is, then more chances that there will be a crapload of tiny DLC costing too much. The reality is, we, gamers, are just people who dedicate some time to play a game for a couple of hours. Games are just games. We don't want to spend every last penny on that SUPER BEST NEW CHARACTER. We can't participate that freaking milking fest. And we don't want.

Avatar image for supa_stud

moan moan moan i bet half of you always buy dlc, and then come on and have a moan. vote with you wallets not with your mouths/fingers/keyboard. i cudnt care less about dlc tbh i have no qualms paying extra for a game i love to play. like with ME3 you could wait for the ultimate edition which will no dout be out in a year with all dlc for half the price

Avatar image for moncealyo

The games are no longer fun and they are way too expensive. It's time for a new hobby.

Avatar image for megakick

I agree buying every COD is really no different. The difference between one sequel and the next is about worth a DLC purchase but cost about 5 times as much...

Avatar image for Alucard9114

also if you buy Call of Duty every year (your paying for the same game at full price every year) you are helping the state of business in video games.The only way to stop this poor quality trend is to not buy games at release day and wait tell the patches that fix these games and the reviews on youtube. (the reviews by real players not paid off web sights like this one)

Avatar image for Alucard9114

The problem is not digital content its crap digital content and the price of it.I remember buying all of the cod map packs then mwf2 raised the price for re made old maps thats when i said im not stupid im not paying that but thousands of you did so the only people to blame for the terrible state that this industry is in are the morons that paid for crap that was obviously crap.