When it comes to industry practices we despise, "On-Disc DLC" is right up there. Ever since Capcom came under fire for including content on retail discs, locking it off and then selling it back to us, gamers became aware of what was essentially a scam and dredged up the whole sorry mess, and quite right too.
So you'd expect that publishers and developers would do their best to stay well clear of this nasty business, but you'd be wrong. On-disc DLC has just evolved into a new form over the last few years, and is more insidious than ever.
Though technically, we now ought to refer to it as 'on-disk DLC.'
For years, it has been common practice to prepare games for upcoming expansions with patches and updates, including a little data, modifying a few files and tweaking a few things to make the transition easier. There's nothing wrong with that whatsoever.
However, we're now in a situation where publishers are smuggling entire DLC packs and expansions onto our hard drives within massive title updates that we're forced to install to play our games online, then charging us to unlock content that's already on our consoles!
Destiny is the most recent offender. The Dark Below expansion weighs in at between 8-75MB depending on your console, meaning that the content must already be on our hard drives or, as many suspect, on the disc itself. Seeing as Destiny has received a number of enormous patches recently despite making fairly minor tweaks to the code, this expansion presumably must have been delivered ahead of time.
Capcom are also up to their old tricks. Dead Rising 3 is a fantastic example of this phenomenon in action, since it received some utterly monstrous updates before each content pack to improve stability, yet the Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha expansion weighed in at only a few megabytes. Seriously, we had to install 4GB to our hard drives the day before the Arcade Remix released. We know it's in there. It's obviously in there.
It's easy to point fingers, but why is this actually a bad thing? The content is being developed post-launch, after all, while downloading it in this manner improves stability and convenience -- well, for those who actually want it, since everyone else has to pull down ridiculous downloads just to play their game online again.
Partly it's the principle of the thing. We objected to paying for content that was already on the disc, so how is this any different? Publishers have forced us to download their DLC, it's already there on our consoles, yet we have to pay to access it. This can't be right.
But more importantly, hard drive space is now a precious commodity. As I bemoaned in a recent article, we have to install every single game we own, and 500GB can disappear in a blink of an eye when big games clock in at between 20-50GB apiece. And yet, instead of trying to streamine their games, respecting our hard drive space, time and convenience, and ensuring that we can keep as many games installed as possible, publishers and developers are forcing us to use up even more space on content we might not even want.
The alternative, of course, being to delete games then reinstall them down the line, or spend even more money on an external hard drive. Great. Yet another expense in an already expensive generation, just so we can download things we might not even want to buy.
On-disk DLC looks like it's here to stay, but that doesn't mean we have to like it. Does this bother you? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Have your say in the comments!