It seems like only a month and thirteen days ago that gamers everywhere were up in arms over suspicions DLC for Resident Evil 5 being nothing more than a 2-megabyte key used to unlock multiplayer content that was already on the retail disc. Once all that hullabaloo started, vice president of Strategic Planning & Business Development for Capcom, said on his company’s official forum:
Well, here we are again, only this time the game is Halo Wars. As Destructoid points out, it seems that gamers have been voicing their opinions all over the webernets over the file-size of the latest “Strategic Options” DLC expansion pack released yesterday, prompting many a DLC-weary gamer to wonder if perhaps the expansion pack was, as many suspected with RE5, merely a key.
Hoping to calm the waters, clear the air and give us all a little déjà vu, Halo Wars lead designer, Dave Pottinger, responded to players’ concerns on the game’s official forum, saying:
Don’t you feel better? You’re $10 wasn’t spent for a mere key; it was used to buy tiny, game mode “rules”. Well, if that doesn’t take the steam out of the frustration sails, I don’t know what will.
Now, don't get me wrong. Bang-for-your-buck is very important, and I totally understand gamers feeling as though they are being ripped off here, especially since the Halo Wars DLC seems like it should have been free, given that it basically just adds a couple new modes. But pricing issues aside, the bigger lesson here is, even if your game doesn’t ship with content to be unlocked via DLC at a later date, people are going to think they are being forced to pay for content they already paid for if the DLC file-size isn’t big enough or it doesn't add substantially to the overall game experience.
Then again, all of this raises the other issue of whether it’s such a bad thing for players to pay to unlock DLC included on a disc, if that is in fact what is going on here. If players are gaining access to new content that expands the game experience in a significant way, who really cares how big the “key” is? I guess the creepiness factor of knowing, “Oh my god! The DLC is coming from inside the disc!” is a bit much for some gamers to take. Again, price plays an important role, but gamers seem particularly upset over the whole "already on the disc" idea.
I mean, as long as graphical improvements, gameplay tweaks and bug fixes are addressed via regular patches, the experience should ape the one that would have been provided had all of these elements been released in one giant download. Technical limitations aside, I honestly would have no problems paying for a 2mb key to “unlock” any of Fallout 3’s DLC, as opposed to paying for a series of 130mb files containing all of the expansion data.
I guess it all just comes down to how gamers feel about potentially paying for something they believe they already paid for. The rationality of this belief is debatable in its own right, but without total developer transparency (aside from flat-out denials), there’s really no way to get to the bottom of this whole mess. So I guess gamers will just have to keep being frustrated until they have good reason not to be. Good deal.
Where do you stand on the whole DLC/key issue? Does file-size matter to you if you're still getting access to solid content?