DLC Exclusivity is Unfair and Exploits Suckers Like Me
Before criticizing something, it’s usually smart for one to come clean about any direct and indefensible hypocrisy associated with it. That’s me. I’m writing this article as someone who preordered two copies of “Mass Effect 3,” which came out March 6.
I have paid in full for a copy of the bare-bones game from Gamestop. Because there were no hard copies of the Collector’s Edition available when I pre-ordered, I at least managed to justify to myself the purchase of the Digital Deluxe Edition available on Electronic Arts’ (EA) content distribution service, Origin.
In doing this I will gain access to all of the pre-order bonuses and downloadable content (DLC) that are available for players of the PC version of the game. All of the armor, all of the guns, all of the N7 hoodies and robot dogs that I crave.
I’m stupid. In doing this I am buying literally and directly into an exploitative and unfair practice that is becoming increasingly prevalent within the games industry. That is of course the inclusion of exclusive in-game bonuses and DLC for those who paid or reserved a copy of the game before the release date. EA among others have taken it one step further by forging deals with retailers like Gamestop to provide retailer-exclusive pre-ordered bonuses and DLC.
All My Wasted Money
The obvious result is that to get all of the bonuses or DLC designed for the game on launch day, a hapless and moronic superfan such as me has no choice but to do what I’ve done – pre-order copies from more than one retailer. As evidenced by the previous game in the series, “Mass Effect 2,” the pre-order bonus from Gamestop is in all likelihood a one-shot deal.
Either you get it from them via pre-order prior to launch, or you don’t get it at all, ever. Not even when “Mass Effect” developer BioWare will inevitably sell the other bonuses via an “Equalizer” pack. Let us not forget the even more ill-conceived concept from ME2 that also has yet to be made whole, even via doled-out premium DLC… the Dr. Pepper gear. Mass Effect fanatics and other degenerates will remember buying soda to get stuff for a videogame.
I don’t even like Dr. Pepper.
I suppose I better find an overall point here before my new editor cuts off my balls with an orange-glowy high tech omni-tool bayonet. DLC is, in my entirely questionable opinion, one of the best things to be adopted in the games industry. Devs with the greed, the tools, and the will can inject new life into games they, from the old business perspective, shouldn’t concern themselves with anymore no matter how much of a hit they were. And make money doing it.
I Couldn’t Find the Code…
I’m talking about shit-tons of money. There’s idiots like me who’ll buy multiple copies of the same freaking thing to get the extras, and then there is just the people who buy the “good” DLC. Together, we are legion. Together we take these spoon fed DLC packs and, when they are done right, enjoy it. Because that kind of money is worth it when we get to enjoy just… that… last… level. Or replay all the crap we already played with a new gun, or a robot dog.
But pre-order exclusivity, no matter how much of my hard earned dollars I dump on it anyway, needs to die an angry and painful death. Why? Because it sustains the overall harmful culture which, increasingly, sells games based on hype and not content. There’s a sucker born every minute, I know because I am most assuredly one of them at least when it comes to wasting money on ingame stuff like DLC. The right thing to do, the way BioWare and EA for instance can pick up some serious Paragon points, is to end the practice.
As an assuredly loyal customer, the inconceivable rube who pre-ordered not one but two copies of their game, I should have a right to still read critical reviews of their ingame bonuses and DLC, in their entirety, and ask my friends if paying for this stuff is fun before I decide whether paying the rent is all that important. Pre-order DLC exclusivity compromises that privilege. Whenever someone writes an article talking about corporate ethics, I have little doubt that a great deal of LOLs are to be had once it is read at the addressed corporate offices. Once that’s done, however, they should still be a concern.
Seriously Devs, We are People Too
Give me all of the DLC I can justify paying for. Give me stuff that I cannot justify paying for, because, damn it, I will probably buy it. But don’t put a time limit on when I can make these decisions. Don’t make that product available at some places which commonly carry that sort of product on their shelves, but not others, and especially don’t combine the two. Believe it or not, fan loyalty is important. And these practices undermine it… for everyone where that is possible.
That group just happens to not include me.