Friday, November 30, 2007

Musing about DLC

Today, we're going to talk about DLC. DLC stands for Downloaded Content. This ranges from free user-created modifications and maps on the PC to purchasable PS3/Xbox360 add-ons for games. I'm mostly going to be talking about PS3/360 stuff, because I was thinking about it this morning.

So, Rock Band just came out, and extra songs available for download showed up either the same day or right after. Now, this is a good thing, but people still clamored about the fact that the developers/publishers could have been withholding this stuff from inclusion in the game to get people to pay for it after and that it's not fair.

...And you know what? They could be right or not, but it doesn't matter. Let's look at two possible routes.

Route A - Harmonix/MTV had the songs ready but didn't include them
The game was designed with the idea of having downloadable content available at some point. So, some set of people were already deciding what sort of stuff to include post-shipping, and the best thing to do in that instance would be to develop some of it concurrently with the project, so that the systems were assured to be in working order.
And you know, from what I've heard, the game is a complete game before getting anything extra, so there's really no reason to complain if they chose to think ahead and prepare things for the future. There's profit to be earned from micro-payments, and although I may not like paying for them myself, I wouldn't mind getting paid for them.

Route B - Harmonix/MTV did not have the songs ready
This is the one that will confuse some people initially. How could they have not had the songs ready but they were by the time the game came out? Most people won't think very in-depth about that, but as with almost every product imaginable, games are finished MONTHS before they hit shelves.
They have to be manufactured, marketed, and packaged. And even before they are "done", there is usually a content-lockdown in place around beta, wherein no new content is supposed to be allowed in the game other than bug-fixes and localization. There's almost always some stuff that gets put in, but the guideline is there to prevent introduction of new bugs and extending testing times.
So, it's entirely possible that the game was locked down and then the extra songs were worked on after that period.

Either way, there's nothing to complain about. It's cool that they already have content available, because otherwise you end up with a menu option that goes to a blank page, and those suck.

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