Developer Calls BS On Disc-Based DLC Unlocks

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."

Aliens vs Predator: Rebellion's David Brickley [SPOnG via Go Nintendo]


    "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."

    Damn right!
    At what point do developers stop? Pay extra to unlock tracks in Forza 4?
    Pay extra to unlock perks in MW3?

    If its on the disc I should have full access to everything (through normal playing) without having to pay extra.

      Dancing Stage Universe (DDR) was my first experience with this.
      I saw on the marketplace a whole bunch of songs available as DLC, but the file size was only about 240KB.
      Was so angry I made a heated rant over at the Xbox AU forums, lol.

        Small sizes for DLC don't always mean they're included on disc.

        Lets say you buy a new car as DLC for a multi-player racing game. If you use that car in a multi-player race, then all the other players should be able to see your car (not just the other players who happen to have also purchased that DLC).

        The only sane way to handle this is to include the assets from the DLC in a game update that gets pushed out to all owners of the game. At that point, the only thing to download when you purchase the DLC is an unlock code.

        I don't know if this applies to the game you bought DLC for, but it is worth keeping in mind.

      "If its on the disc I should have full access to everything (through normal playing) without having to pay extra."

      I think the reason is obvious. Publishers are sick of us getting games used because they do not get a cut of the proceeds.

      Hence, they lock regions of the game so that those who pay it used have to pay the publisher a fee to unlock the required content.

      Take the recent Prince of Persia game. I still think that the DLC 'Epilogue' is the real ending to the game and have been removed.

    Totally agreed. Ubisoft love doing this, like HAWX having tons of planes locked out as DLC, except if you had the PC version you could use a hack that let you use them for free...

    In a way, DLC that wasn't developed in time can at times, just as shady as DLC already on the disc.

    What game these days ISN'T delayed at some part. Why not delay it, to include the DLC.

    I guess the only way to please a gamer with DLC is the way games like Fallout 3 or GTA IV did it. They were large enough to know it wasn't on the disc. Was developed on the most part after the release of the game itself.

    DLC that is totally irrelevant to the main storyline of a game, but fits the setting of the game. Thats really the only pleasing DLC cause we know, or think, that its worthy DLC cause its not offering more or filling gaps of the main storyline that we feel jipped for not getting in the first place.

      Not at all. Dragon Age Origins had some awesome DLC that was released on day one, and it kicked some serious ass, so has Mass Effect 2. However its not stored on the disc. It's all down to the quality of the dlc. When it's just a dlc code to unlock the content, that's just plain offensive.

      However on the other end of the scale one CAN ask 'Well, if the other software IS ready for use on day one, why isn't it packaged on the dvd...'

        Like I said above. DLC has gone from being content delivery to a process where developers/publishers try to take a share from second hand games.

          Indeed, though I do give kudos to Bioware for giving me those cards (seeing as I always buy brand new) to get dlc on day 1 for free :D

          (And for keeping followup dlc cheap as hell.)

    I think it’s probably more common for a game to be totally finished then have parts taken out for DLC. It’s a cheap and dirty tactic to make more money. I’m all for DLC, if its good quality and actually add something to the game then ok, but I hate it when a game comes out with DLC that was obviously just cut from the game to be sold later.

    I don’t ever buy these stupid skins or character packs, spending $8 on 2 new character skins is just stupid. I’ll only buy DLC if it’s heavy on content.

    Well that's refreshing to hear, I've been worried about this for a while. I wonder at what stage do companies say "We've given the consumer too much content for $100, we better remove some of it and charge them extra for it later?". Still, it worked for Dragon Age, I think we'll see it become the industry norm before too long.

    I just got the multiplayer skins pack for Uncharted 2 and it was only like 183kb.

    But the game was patched with a few hundred megabytes the night before...

    Do you think it was an unlock on the disc or the patch? I don't mind if the skins were in the patch.

      Sounds to me like a unlock for the patch. I do not see how a set of character models and their textures can fit in less than a megabyte.

      As James mentions above, the art assets were included in the patch so that everyone has them. But only those who have paid can actually use them.

        Here's the big question then David.

        If I cannot use it until I pay a fee, then why should I have to lost hard disk space? If I cannot use it immediate then I feel the content should be kept separate until it is paid for.

          Let's say that your friend does shell out for this DLC, and wants to play Uncharted's multi-player mode with you. How would you expect his character to look on your console?

          Most people would probably say that he should look like the character skin he picked. For that to happen, that skin needs to exist on your system whether you can select it yourself or not.

          Or would you prefer all such players to appear as the default skin on your system?

        Yeah, because everyone would need the skins/models for online play, but only those who paid for them can use them.

    photocopiers have been doing this for a while. when you buy the base copier you get everything but to use options like print, fax, scan or email we add a licence or key to unlock it. but they charge us like we are adding the hardware too

      Thats pure profiteering because the hardware DEFINITELY would have been paid for in the base price.

    So its not ok to hold off on content that should be in the game and call it dlc but it is ok to Charge people different prices depending on where they live and how their country is fairing in a GFC???

    Seems like a clever way to pretend they don't ripp people off when thats exactly what they are doing with their other hand !!

    They all have their own ways of screwing you .. and rebellion/sega are no different!

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