LEMMING: Why Gamers Should Embrace On-Disc DLC

Way back in the dark, distant times known as “half a year ago,” fans of Capcom’s latest fighting mash-em-up Street Fighter X Tekken were shocked and outraged to discover that $60 was not enough to get them the full game. Indeed, 12 fully functional and playable fighters were locked away within the game’s code, with no means of obtaining them other than paying Capcom a fee to download a code that flips their visibility switch from “off” to “on.” Gamers were quick to decry this as a dirty attempt by Capcom to extract more money from player’s wallets without doing a lick of extra work.

As such, Street Fighter X Tekken, a game filled with iconic characters such as Ryu, that old guy with the white hair, Chun-Li, and that guy with the tiger mask, flopped with a measly 700,000 copies sold worldwide. It did so badly that, according to VGChartz.com, it didn’t sell a single unit on either the PC or the PS Vita (though given the Vita’s poor performance, the latter isn’t too surprising). It’s such a shame that all it takes is a little bit of greed to cause an otherwise decent game to not sell and prevent the publisher from making anything more than a mild profit of a few millions.

But it’s not the publishers who are being greedy; no, it’s the gamers. Thanks to the shortsightedness of a few penny-pinchers, very few people are truly able to appreciate the upside to paying more for your games. In fact, on-disc DLC and other similar services are a stepping stone that will lead to a new generation of great games and great gaming.

“But Lem,” I can hear you saying already, despite what my neurologist tells me. “On-disc content and day-one DLC has no reason not to be included in the game already. How could that possibly lead to better games?”

First off, shut up. I paid a ton for these pills, and I expect them to at least make you all sound a little less whiny. Secondly, it’s such a simple answer that even a grade-schooler could grasp it: the more money a developer has, the better their games will be.

I’m going to throw some big concepts out here, so bear with me. Game development is a process that runs entirely on money. The more money a developer has to throw around, the more they can put towards a project. This leads to things like bigger production values, larger set pieces, more detailed graphics, better voice-actors, and more epic music. Why else do games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto get consistently high reviews after multiple iterations? Money, dear boy.

Money also prevents immersion-shattering glitches like these.

In other words, adding more money to a game is like injecting it with a cocktail of awesome mixed with some kick-ass. Unfortunately for developers, the costs needed to make these insanely good games are constantly going up. Even EA, with all of their million-selling franchises, has been consistently losing more money than they’re making since this generation began. Naturally, this means developers have to ask gamers to pay a little extra for their products to guarantee future awesomeness. Sometimes this leads to things like DLC released on day one or content locked on the disc.

Yet for even these meager attempts at raising the price of games, gamers still refuse to pay for them. Gamer entitlement has rapidly grown out of control since the beginning of this generation. “Why should I pay so much to be able to play the games I like?” to paraphrase about 9 out of 10 forum gamers. “I can get the same amount of content in other games for way cheaper.” This may sound sensible and logical on the surface, but asinine comments like these only show just how ignorant these people can be.

Allow me to divulge a valuable piece of wisdom that will clear up this confusion: You get what you pay for. Never in any other medium has this kernel of truth been more evident than in video games.

It’s no real secret that the best services in gaming are the ones that cost the most*. Xbox Live Gold costs $50 for a year of online, but it’s hands down the strongest online of the consoles. Activision released an optional subscription service for Call of Duty last year, but the DLC and fancy stats you get with it make it the most engaging CoD ever. Conversely,  this same reason is why nobody takes the smartphone gaming market seriously, or why there is no such thing as a great game that is also free-to-play (don’t say Team Fortress 2. That game was better on Xbox, anyway).

So worth the money.

But gamers still insist on being as shrewd as possible, and the developers suffer for this. Companies live and die on the money given to them from gamers, and the less money a company receives, the more likely they are to go out of business and never make games again.

Need I remind everyone about companies such as Midway and Acclaim? Back in the day, these two companies were massive forces in the game industry, and churned out quality game after quality game. So what happened to them? People quit buying their games, and they died.

Everyone suffers when a company goes under. Hundreds of workers are suddenly out of a job in a terrible economic climate filled with competing tech university grad students. They may be lucky if they can land a job pushing out shovelware for the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, gamers may never get the chance to play new installments in their favorite franchises again.

Thanks to greedy gamers, we will never get to play this.

It’s a simple choice, really: Pay publishers the extra money for DLC and guarantee the continuation of our favorite franchises, or stop and watch companies go under faster than a fat, armless kid in a swimming pool. It’s time to give publishers the respect and cash they deserve. Next time you see a game you like confirmed to have a good chunk of its content locked on the disc for you to pay an extra sum on top of the $60 price-tag, pay for it with a smile. A smile and cold, hard cash.

*Unless it’s a PC or Sony product.

About the author: The Lemming is a die-hard follower of the Xbox. He started gaming with the original Xbox, and considers anything that isn’t M-rated and/or a sim racer to be games for children. Although Microsoft has since abandoned him as a target audience with the Xbox 360 and Kinect, he still feels satisfied playing his Halo rehashes and the various multiplats that he could get anywhere else.

7 responses to “LEMMING: Why Gamers Should Embrace On-Disc DLC

  1. Pingback: HERMIT: Why Your Gaming Tastes are Shit | System Wars Magazine·

  2. I’m with you Lem. If the cattle would just accept their role as paying consumers and stop complaining about Best Games Ever (such as upcoming Medal of Honor 12) this whole videogaming thingy would go a lot smoother on us all. Democrats should push for a games tax to make sure companies can keep on employing people and making more Halo and Final Fantasy games.

    • Lem here. Don’t forget the sheep. They need to learn their place, too. Would you believe that there isn’t a single game on Wii that has On-Disc DLC? No wonder why developers avoid it like the plague.

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  4. Lots of talk about you… http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.391649-Why-gamers-should-embrace-on-disc-DLC?page=1

    And I’m going to go ahead and disagree as well. It’s a shame the audience you are trying to speak to you put down so harshly and unnecessarily, totally detracts from the original weak point you attempt to make. Your examples for EA are bogus, mostly because they have become the corporate machine of bloat that many other public entities become when their upper management staffs salaries reach orbit. For example: http://www.forbes.com/lists/2006/12/910R.html $82 Million over 5 years? Really? How much money do they have on hand if you can honestly justify paying your CEO of a publicly traded company over $12 million per year? I’d like to make comparisons to the programmers wages who build this thing from the ground up, I wonder what their royalties and salaries are…

    This whole thing is fail and more fail.

  5. I am going to have to disagree.
    Its not our job to make sure developers stay afloat – its the developer or publisher’s job.
    If they cannot make a game that will sell enough, then don’t make that game. It may sound cruel, but its not my problem. Its their problem for designing the game wrong – putting too much money into optimizing it so it can run on a console, or making its graphics look cool – and bumping up the costs greatly.
    Personally, I’d love if all my games looked like my PC version of BF3 on Ultra settings, but that’s not possible thanks to budgets, and time. Studios understand that they can’t pump to much into things that are unnecessary, else they will run out of both. They just can’t hit that balance with some games though.
    Speaking of time, this is another reason why simply giving publishers more money won’t make better games. Games are built in limited time, and pouring more money into it isn’t going to help, the bottleneck in most places is how short the development time is. Sure, more money lets you hire more people to get more work done, but if there were 6 people writing this article, rather than just you, I’d almost say it would have taken longer. You’d need to organize who was doing what, what each of you were saying, and how to put it together in a consistent piece, and that is something no amount of money can quickly solve.

    The other side of On-Disk DLC is that its the wrong way to go about even forcing extra money. If you want more money, charge $70 for your game rather than $60. On Disk DLC is a system that often has bugs and error with the certification process, and sometimes even requires constant internet connection – which is impossible for some people. All that this does is cause less people to buy your game because its got problems, and more people to pirate it to bypass these problems.

    Really, On Disk DLC is something that consumers should oppose. Its a shady and flawed business practice where Publishers try to make us pay for their mistakes, rather than dealing with them responsibly by cutting spending to things that don’t need it, or just increasing the price upfront, rather than trying to hide the fact that you need to pay more for the game.

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