1993: The Birth Of DLC

There's a past-is-prologue quality to a lot what wwwtxt curates and sends out over its Twitter feed, exemplified by this nugget published on Wednesday.

wwwtxt is not a bot. It's Daniel Rehn, an artist and "media archaeologist," who culls discussions before 1995, the beginning of the commercial Internet as we know it. The sources include Usenet discussion groups, the early online services like GEnie, CompuServe and Prodigy) and the like.

What's amusing about this, which is 19 years old, according to Rehn, is how specific it is in describing what we've learned to live with today: "New weapons and new game scenarios." It sounds like a great, wide-open way to extend the life of a good game and add value, doesn't it? But I guess no one foresaw locked-on-the-disc DLC at the time, or DLC developed concurrently with the main product. Maybe Rehn can track down the first Internet complaint about DLC.

Thanks to reader Christopher M. for pointing out the tweet.


    Isn't this describing an expansion pack, not DLC? Expansion content sold as separate products goes way back before 1993.

      Well that kind of is a tricky question, if you define the above as an expansion pack and not DLC wouldn't that make all DLC just expansion packs.

        I've always seen DLC as being the same concept as expansion packs personally, though back in the day an expansion would be a bit more bulky and more expensive (great examples being StarCraft's Brood War and Baldur's Gate II's Throne of Bhaal).

        So I guess you could say that all DLC is expansion content? But not all expansion content is DLC.

      The only difference really between DLC and an expansion pack is the amount of content included.

      Trouble is, before the Internet was -that- popular, they had to release expansion packs in the same format as games (boxed, mass produced discs etc). In order to make it worthwhile, it had to contain enough content to warrant a gamer bothering to purchase it and thus the creator bothering to make it.

      Now days, DLC contains what I'd expect to find in a reasonably well made and cared for mod.

      Last edited 07/01/13 11:36 am

        I guess nowadays the stuff that would have gone into a decent-sized expansion pack gets bundled up as a standalone game. I reckon a decade ago games like Assassin's Creed Brotherhood & Revalations for example would have been expansion packs to AC2.

          This is the situation from what I've come to understand in my many years of gaming.
          Expansion Packs. (XP)
          Content Patches. (TP)
          Downloaded Content. (DLC)
          (Disc locked content (DCL maybe?) is another kettle of fish, and I'm honestly not sure how I feel about it -- I don't play on consoles mind you. I imagine I'd be annoyed.)

          XP > TP >= DLC.

          The really are all one in the same. Each one adds content and presumably fixes bugs. It's mostly the scale in which it's done. Though XPs more-so than the others often updated the engine, so your initial replay value could take advantage of the new features -- as well as adding new content. Where as TPs and DLCs normally just add content without much change to replay experience.

        There are many mods that i've played that add far more content than 90% of the DLC I see today.

    I think they're describing SMA4's e-cards.

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