Before I begin, that headline is completely ripped off a Eurogamer commenter, so never let it be said that I’m above stealing jokes within the right context. OK, so, it seems that the new “DLC” for BioShock 2 (which came out four days ago) isn’t really DLC at all! Nope, the content is right there, already on the disc that’s sitting inside your Xbox 360. Time to storm the Bastille again.
Users have reported that the download size of the DLC, which adds two playable multi-player characters, among other things, only comes in at 108K for the Xbox 360, and 24K for the PC. Now, unless 2K Games have invented some sort of Space Age compression technology, how can you fit two new characters (and more!) in a file so small? Conclusion: the content must have been on the disc the whole time.
In other words, that means that you’re paying 400 Microsoft Points (around $5) for something that’s already in your possession! It’d be like walking into the shoe store at the mall, then being asked to pay for the shoes you’re wearing. Well, not really, but sorta.
Or is it? Do you really “own” everything that’s on the disc? I would say yeah: I bought the disc, I own it. Now, if I were to have a lawyer read the fine print, he’d probably say, “Well, technically you purchased a license to play the game, and you don’t necessarily own the contents of the disc per se…”
How often do you download software that, while you download the entire thing, only unlocks after you cough up $20? Same deal or not?
I’d say no: when I download shareware I’m well aware that I’m downloading something that, while it’s all on my hard drive, won’t unlock until I actually buy it. There’s no such expectation for Xbox 360 games: I buy the disc, and I expect that I’ll have access to everything on the disc without having to pay extra at a later date. If not, publishers should put a sticker on the box that says, “Contains additional content on the disc that must be purchased separately.” That way people can decide if they want to support that. I probably wouldn’t just on principle, but I’m crazy like that.
It’s just unseemly. I would expect that the game’s developers had created the content that later wound up in the DLC currently with the full game, and at some point the publisher was like, “Well, put these assets aside, we’ll release it as a DLC at a later date. Just put it all in a hidden directory or something.”
Or maybe 2K Games should create a new term to take the place of DLC: PBC, or premium bonus content. Be upfront about it—it’s on the disc that ships, but you need to pay extra for it—and see if it sinks or swims.
Video game publishers: I’m available for consulting. I’ll let you use PBC, but further tips will cost you.