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Capcom Sees No Difference Between On-Disc “DLC” and Actual DLC

As anyone who has been regularly playing video games this console generation is aware, downloadable content — not stellar games or recognizable franchises — is at the forefront of what will define this generation when we look back on it. The DLC craze, though it obviously generates money for developers, is getting out of control, and just about every gamer knows it. Capcom, however, either thinks gamers are stupid, or the company needs a dictionary regarding what downloadable content should entail.

Capcom recently released Street Fighter X Tekken, a fighting game which, as the name plainly suggests, is a mashup of Street Fighter and Tekken characters — something that would’ve actually been a humongous deal years ago when the two franchises were at their peak. As with most modern day games, the game released with downloadable content. However, it wasn’t just day one DLC — a general scourge in its own right — but the DLC was actually located on the game’s retail disc itself. As one might guess, a portion of the game’s fans took issue with this.

Some fans took enough of an issue with this that they filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau regarding Capcom’s tactics. Capcom actually responded to the complaint, which Cinema Blend reports:

At Capcom, we value our customers and make every effort to resolve customer complaints. We are sorry to hear that [censored] was so disappointed with the Street Fighter x Tekken game (”SFxT”), and would like to respond to his complaints.

SFxT has an enormous amount of content, fully developed and available for play and enjoyment immediately on-disc. Given the 38 characters available for full play, as well as multiple play modes, SFxT provides great value for all players from day one. While Capcom is sorry that some of its fans are not happy about the chosen method of delivery for the DLC, we believe that this method will provide more flexible and efficient gameplay throughout the game’s lifecycle. There is effectively no distinction between the DLC being ”locked” behind the disc and available for unlocking at a later date, or being available through a full download at a later date, other than delivery mechanism.

As you can see by Capcom’s response, whether or not they actually believe it, they are certainly stating that locked content stored on the disc that requires some sort of downloadable key to unlock is no different than separate content that could not be stored on the disc that you purchased.

Now, there are two main issues here. The first, less important issue is that of semantics. “Downloadable content” is called that for a reason — it is not called “downloadable unlocks for content on the disc” or some similar variation. This small semantic issue, however, does denote a larger issue involving DLC. This generation, “downloadable content” has basically grown bigger than the actual name used to describe it. Similar to the term “MMO,” which generally, one would immediately think of grinding out levels, crafting, mounts, hotbars, and end-game raids; however, the term simply stands for “massively multiplayer online,” which describes just about any video game that goes online. Similarly, the term “downloadable content” has, for better or worse, evolved beyond its actual namesake, and many developers and gamers alike are using the term to describe additional content, regardless of how that addition is made. The issue with this is not that people are angry with the semantics, but that the semantics of it all represent the monster that DLC has become — when something evolves beyond the name used that accurately describes it, it generally becomes difficult to regulate.

Secondly, the major of the two issues is that locking “downloadable” content on a retail disc is an evil practice. Though the influx of post-retail DLC has been more of a negative than a positive this generation, the main argument from developers as to why downloadable content was not included on the disc and had to be released as downloadable content post-launch, is that the content would not have been ready on time. I’m sure a lot of the time, this is the case. However, DLC has evolved from that into being released on the same day of — and in a few cases, even before — the actual retail release, which means though the DLC may not have been quite ready to ship on the disc, it was pretty close to being ready. Most gamers would probably rather wait an extra month for the game so the DLC can be shipped on the disc at no extra charge, rather than paying an extra fifteen bucks for the DLC that supposedly wasn’t ready in time for the retail release even though it released alongside said retail release. Now, as Capcom has done with Street Fighter X Tekken and a few other companies have done in recent memory, DLC is being shipped on the retail disc, and one has to purchase an unlock, even though the content is on the retail disc for which gamers just paid full price.

It is understandable why Capcom gamers weren’t too happy, and it’s a little worrisome for the future of the industry when a publisher as big as Capcom legitimately believes there is no difference between actual content that wasn’t ready for the retail disc being released later for download, and content that was so ready for the retail disc that it was literally put on the retail disc. On the flipside, Capcom could simply be lying about their belief regarding the distinction between the two, which is also pretty darn worrisome.

Even if Capcom ends up releasing all of the disc-locked content for free, it doesn’t quash all the issues regarding their distinction between downloadable and disc-locked. It would seem Capcom is setting a worrisome precedent in a generation that already beats us over the head with questionable additional content.

Amusingly, yes, we’re aware that the term “disc-locked content” also abbreviates to “DLC.”

(Cinema Blend via Joystiq)

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