Rebellion's David Brickley, director of the upcoming Aliens vs. Predator, said there is "absolutely no justification" for downloadable content that essentially makes gamers pay to unlock code already on the disc. "Players are entirely right," he says.
In an interview with SPOnG, Brickley holds forth on DLC - calling it a useful adjunct that gets in additional components that just can't be fit into a game's finite production schedule. That's the definition of DLC, he says. If it's developed concurrently to the rest of the retail code, then it's kind of shady to charge for it.
Yeah. It's quite simple to explain, but I do think players are entirely right – if the content is on the disc already there's absolutely no justification for studios to offer DLC which is essentially an unlock key or something. But I guess what doesn't come across to some people is that when a game hits the shelves, it's probably been wrapped up for four or five months in any true sense.
The time between finishing the game and retail is usually spent on debugging – you can spend months and months just fixing errors and glitches to ensure the product is finished and ready for release. Then when you factor in the console approval and the manufacturing process, you're talking about a substantial part of the game's overall development time.
While all of that stuff is going on, it tends to free up resources at the studio, so they can make items that can be added on as DLC afterwards. I think people outside of that process assume that the development of a game and its DLC are executed in parallel, and that's really not the case.
As for DLC in AvP, Brickley said "there is some specific DLC that will come out at some point after the game's release date," some of which will be the kind of content that the studio couldn't fit into the schedule. "We've spent some time after the initial game's deadline to finish those off and offer those," Brickley said. "In that sense, it's great that modern consoles actually have an ability to add to the original game."