I got done with work a little early tonight, so I may be able to get the recaps done before midnight for a change. Riiiiiiight.
I have this album on vinyl. I'm not sure if that's awesome or if it's just another sign that I'm horribly old.
There were a couple of blogs today that were inspired by the recent decision by Capcom to charge extra for the multiplayer mode in Resident Evil 5. It got me thinking about the ongoing debate and if you'll permit me, I'd like to add my two hundredths of a dollar.
For me, premium Downloadable Content falls into one of 4 categories: self contained, cosmetic, game extending, and... well, I was going to say rape, but let's just call it predatory. I realize those are broad, so let me break it down a bit. Self contained DLC refers to entire downloadable games, like Braid, PixelJunk Eden, and Bit Trip Beat. These games aren't really the cause of the debate, so we'll set those aside for now. Cosmetic DLC is fairly self explanatory, and includes everything from avatar clothing in XBLA or Home to LittleBigPlanet costumes to alternate costumes in Street Fighter 4. It's sometimes free or can be unlocked through other means, achieving challenges or collecting widgets or whatever. This is the easiest DLC to ignore since it has no effect on the gameplay whatsoever; it exists purely so that the purchaser can show off a bit. In this respect, it is not entirely unlike fashion in the real world. Game extending DLC is that which enhances the original game by adding additional missions, a new way to play, or more options in general. Some examples of this include the story extension from Fallout 3, extra tracks for Rock Band, and the ability to play as Protoman in Mega Man 9. To me, this is the best kind of DLC, because those who loved the original game can pay to get something more out of it, while those who bought the game but aren't enamored with it don't miss out on anything substantial... the self-contained game that they bought does not suffer because they aren't willing to drop an extra couple of bucks. The problem comes when the game extending DLC starts to spill over into the final category.
Predatory DLC is that which occurs when game manufacturers put their profit margin ahead of their customer's goodwill and best interests. There are many examples, some of the more egregious include Namco/Bandai's baffling decision to lock away the majority of the most recent Katamari game, and the "true ending" of Prince of Persia being lopped off the retail version and set behind a metal gate, a heavyset bouncer outside demanding an additional $10 if you want to take a gander. I also include in this category gamebreaking downloads like a faster car or a more powerful gun-- in my opinion, multiplayer gaming should be about skill and practice, not how much you can spend (or talk your mom out of). These are the stories that infuriate us, and rightly so-- it's hard not to feel taken advantage of when you hear about this kind of thing. I think the source of this debate is trying to define where the line between game extending and predatory DLC lies. This is extremely difficult to nail down, and I suspect it's a different line for everybody. We've heard about so much predatory DLC in the past, thought, that we get leery when we hear about a major upgrade to a game coming out directly after its release... shouldn't that content have been on the disc? It can be tough to determine just how long a game company has been working on their "extras." And when the DLC is something that would have been on the disc as an unlockable in years past, it's absolutely understandable that people start to get up in arms.
The simplest reaction to this is, "if you don't like what they're doing, don't buy it." And the argument of "Don't buy it" is fine-- but the reason people are upset about this stuff is, at least in part, because it's a new technology and a new method of game delivery. Anything that happens here and now in its infancy is likely to have repercussions for years to come-- if we put up with this crap now the game companies will think it's acceptable and continue to ram it down our throats.
I've rambled long enough, and I've already missed my midnight target, so no change there, I guess. Anyway. Lots of great Monthly Musings tonight, and just a sprinkling of fail to keep things honest.