For the past couple of years, it has become common for major video game releases to launch with extra content on the game disc that is not available to players. An unlock code is then sold to players to unlock the content, which is already on the game disc they have paid full price for. As an example, when Mass Effect 3 launched earlier this year a content pack was immediately available for purchase that gave players a Prothean companion – something quite spectacular in the Mass Effect mythos. This, and other schemes to nickel-and-dime its customers, earned EA the title of “Worst Company in America” from The Consumerist this year.
In other cases, codes for certain content are only given out when a player pre-orders a title from a specific retailer, meaning a player would have to buy the full game from three or four different retailers to experience all of the content. Mercifully, most of these vendor-specific pre-order bonuses have been purely aesthetic in nature. This is changing, though. Just last week Square Enix announced that only players who pre-order Hitman: Absolution from Gamestop will receive a pre-release mini-game and a chance at winning a contest.
Many gamers feel these on-disc downloadable content (DLC) schemes are anathema to the original purpose of DLC: to provide players with extra content and extend the life of the game. Most gamers, myself included, have no problem paying for more game content. Companies cross a line, however, when they purposely withhold content that could have gone into the original game, and try to sell it to players. Especially if that content is already play-tested and on the game disc.
Evidently, gamers who feel the way I do have been giving Capcom an ear-full about the issue. Christian Svensson, a senior vice president at Capcom, responded to the issue over on the Ask Capcom forums. Svensson stated that Capcom has begun re-evaluating its position on on-disc DLC. From the post:
We’ve been getting several questions, here and elsewhere about the future of on-disc DLC. We would like to assure you that we have been listening to your comments and as such have begun the process of re-evaluating how such additional game content is delivered in the future. As this process has only just commenced in the past month or so, there will be some titles, where development began some time ago and that are scheduled for release in the coming months, for which we are unable to make changes to the way some of their post release content is delivered.
Svensson said that Dragon’s Dogma will still release with on-disc DLC, since it had been planned from the beginning of the game’s development. It is even more disconcerting to learn that game companies are plan on-disc DLC from the beginning, rather than locking up some content at the end of development. Still, this message from Capcom is encouraging. As Svensson said, “You are being heard.”