A Weekly Gripe: DLC?

Peeps, this isn’t a new chapter. I will try to have one up on Saturday though. But right now… I just wanna gripe about something. This is thanks to a video from Dorkly on YouTube that I just watched from over a year ago. It’s about DLC.

DLC, what does it mean? Let’s go back to before the internet was as huge as it is today. Back in the day, there was no DLC for anything. There was something that the so-called PC master race had that us console gamers didn’t, Expansion Packs. Expansion Packs were this magical thing that games last longer, as they expanded on the story of they game. They game in the form of disks on most occasion. I say “disk” because that was what the main gaming medium on PCs were for years, before the CD became something other than a music item. You had to go to an actual store and buy the Expansion Packs on disks in order to play the extra content at home. This meant installing the Expansion Packs before you could play them.

As the advent of technology rose, so did the way to get expanded content. Eventually, you could just get it off the internet, so no more having to go from store to store to find the expansion to your game you loved so much and wanted to keep playing. However, the name changed as well. Instead of Expansion Packs, we got something called “Downloadable Content”, or DLC for short. It’s because the content was downloaded from the internet. However… as good of an idea as it was, it fell into a major problem. What is the problem you ask? Deception of course. A deception that also went under the initialism of DLC, “Disc-locked content”.

Disc-locked content or “on-disc DLC” was a practice that started in Japan as far as I can recall because it was Japanese Publishers who were first caught doing it. I have been trying to search for the first incident where it was discovered, but I haven’t had much luck. But I do remember my first experience with it, and it was before the Street Fighter x Tekken game came out and Capcom was caught with their pants down. This one was actually done by Namco Bandai, one that I could not forgive because it was to my favorite fighting game franchise. It was to Soul Calibur IV.

For starters, the game already pissed me off before it even launched. Why you ask? It was because the inclusion of Star Wars characters. Don’t get me wrong, I love Star Wars. However… this was something wrong in all senses. My SC fan side was pissed off while my Star Wars fan side was like “No, that’s not true! That’s possible!!!”. Still, they did that mainly as a way to promote “Force Unleased” for Lucas Arts. But the biggest peeve that made me mad was the so-called “console exclusive characters” actually being on-disc DLC. These were Darth Vader for the PS3 and Yoda for the 360. It was bad enough that they included characters that shouldn’t even be there, but in the end we had to pay to use the other guy that didn’t even belong in a Soul Calibur game and they were already on the disc.  Proof started with screen shots of the character selection pages, the space for Yoda was blank of the PS4 while the space for Darth Vader was blank on the 360. And then someone hacked into the disc they bought and found out that they were actually on the disc to begin with. This was one of the many times disc hackers revealed the truth to the gaming community, and I remember the outrage.

There was of course a few years later when the truth was found out about Street Fighter x Tekken. What made people even more angry was the fact that they tried to defend it. Why should we the gamers pay to play content on a disc that we paid about 60 dollars for? That was why we kept getting outraged. Even if it was what publishers were using to fight the used game industry, it was unfair to use who paid for the new copies in the first place. I am one of the many who thinks that was unfair.

Another unfair gesture to fight the used game industry was another cardinal sin that EA was notorious for, the Online Pass. Just like with the disc-locked DLC, they wanted people to pay for a feature that should already be in the game. Around this time, I had jumped ship from the PS3 to the 360, so I was angry. I was already paying to use Xbox Live, and now they wanted me to pay more money to play online? Note, I do know that people who owned new copies of the games didn’t have to pay for online passes. But for people who got the game used, they had to fork over another 10 dollars in order to play online. Sadly for the developers and publishers… this backfired.

There were two other ways for games to get around other than commercials and the internet. The first, game rental shops. Most video rental places also rented video games. Some people would rent a game to try it before going around and buying the actual game. As people didn’t want to pay to play online after paying to rent the game, only those desperate to play online would either buy a new copy or pay the fee while renting and then buy a used copy. The other method was one older than renting games, loaning them to your buddies. Back in the day, people would trade games to let their friends play something they don’t own. This in turn would lead to the person borrowing the game to buy it for themselves. But like with those renting the game, they didn’t want to pay to play online. Especially people on XBL (Xbox Live). Again, we were already paying to play our games online. So it felt unfair to us.

This practice started late 2009 and was pretty much phased out at the end of 2013. Mainly it had to due with how much games had to be connected to the internet for some things in single player. There are those who claim that it was a victory by perseverance, but I’d have to argue against that. As much as I want to say that it was a victory won by the people, it was technology advancing to the point where online passes were just in the way.

Why did I mention Online Passes with on disc DLC? It’s because they are both evils that should have never existed. Not to mention you would see Online Passes appear in games DLC sections. But… there’s another cardinal sin that must be mentioned.

Does anyone remember when the Xbox One and the PS4 were getting ready to appear at their first E3? Microsoft was already getting hammered by controversy. Why you ask? Simple, it was all the back tracking they had to do in order to appease the gamers. Starters, they tried to go with the DRM model with disc-based games to combat the used game market. Sony took advantage of this with a little video on how to share PS4 games, which was just one guy handing the disc to another guy. People laughed so hard at this because it made more sense due to game borrowing being one of the best methods of advertisement, it was an old tradition between friends, and trying to DRM disc games was stupid. Next was that you had to have the Kinnect. This was an outrage that almost got the console banned in Australia as it was considered an illegal surveillance. And let’s not get started on having to have it hooked to the internet 24/7. I had just moved from a part of West Virginia where there’s people who don’t even have internet, so I was offended at the time. I’d get to the part where it was discovered that there were computers with high-end graphics cards in the cabinets instead of actual Xbox Ones at that E3, but that’s another story.

Why did I mention this controversy along side Online Passes and on disc DLC? Simple, they are all forms of stupidity. The original stuff with the Xbox One, stupid beyond all belief. Online Passes, it’s because that was a feature that should already be on the games. On disc DLC, why should we pay for content that’s already on a disc we bought? Sounds really stupid. DLC was supposed to stand for “Downloadable Content”, as in it should be considered an actual add-on. But there is one last stupid thing I should mention when it comes to DLC stupidity.

“Horse Armor” as the phrase goes. That phrase comes for Skyrim: Oblivion as one of the first DLCs on the 360 was armor for your horses. People criticized it because it was basically an overpriced and useless item to spend real world money on. Thus the term “Horse Armor” was born. This was before the next bit of stupidity was born.

Micro Transactions, something that almost every game has these days. Normally used for paying real world currency for small cosmetics or even in game currency. The biggest example of this is the Shark Cards in GTA Online. There are people out there who will pay a hundred dollars for a billion in GTA$. I’m too old fashioned to pay my money for something I could get for grinding. And I think it’s stupid. It’s different from paying real world money for “silver” in Destiny, which only buys you emotes, possible rides, or even horns for said rides. I’d rather not waste my money on one game like that, especially since I don’t need it. It’s different from buying map packs for games like Battlefield.

Despite the fact you have to pay out money for certain things, there are some things justifiable about it. For example, companies with online games need money to keep the servers running. That’s the only thing that makes Micro Transactions a necessary evil in the world. It’s the reason why people pay for the extra content in games. Like the map packs and Horse Armor, that money goes into keeping the games going. There’s no such thing out there as a “free game”. Usually there is a lot of cut content in those freebies.

Example one, DOA 5: Core Fighters. All you get are four of the fighters and some of the basic stages. Unless of course you’re like me and keep a look out for when there’s one that becomes free DLC, though I’ve only gotten two since I downloaded the game. But DOA 5 itself… should be considered highway robbery. Since it’s come out, it’s had so many season passes that are like 90 dollars or more a pop. And that’s on top of paying 30-something for the actual game. I do like that it has some anime mashup stuff, but no way am I paying for that. Or any of the perverted costumes.

There’s many examples of games that are not really free. Hell, most of the stuff on PSN are online only when it comes to the free games. And those are the ones that take you for your money to keep running. With the exception of Team Fortress 2 on the PC, I’d rather remain a Free to Play player and just enjoy the game.

And there I go again derailing myself off of the main topic. The point is, there’s a lot of reasons to gripe about DLC in games. Hell, I can’t even afford to continue the Yu-Gi-Oh steams after the Zexal campaign unless I buy the DLCs. And there’s a lot of cards you can’t get your hands on without those as well. Trust me, I know from getting my but kicked enough in multiplayer. And in other games, you can’t continue playing without DLCs as well. Like I remember when I only had Vanilla Destiny, there were a lot of people hating on me because I couldn’t do stuff with them. But if you are willing to get the latest expansion, then you can do whatever as it comes with an occasional update that’s meant to last until the next one. Trust me because that’s why I pre-ordered Rise of Iron. As for games like Battlefield and Halo, it’s the only way to play the latest maps.

DLCs are something that will never end. However, I don’t mind. As long as the content isn’t already on the disc that I paid for, that is.


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