By RuinRunner 7 Comments
A recent announcement on DICE's Battlefield Blog exclaims, "Alright Ladies and Gentlemen! New Map pack 4 is out so my suggestion is you turn on your machines, download it from the in-game store and get right into the action!" I'm not sure why it bothers me so much, but I'm starting to find this really insulting. These maps are, of course, on the disc itself, and if you've entered the VIP code that came with a new copy (or bought one from XBLM) you needn't even "visit the in-game store" before "getting right into the action". All you have to do is wait for the date when EA decides to unlock them. Calling a disc unlock signal a "download" is disingenuous in any case, but it's far more egregious when publishers have the temerity to charge an additional fee for it. That's exactly what EA does if you want to outfit your Bad Company 2 character in a "special activities" costume (and didn't get in on the limited time, US only, Dr. Pepper promotion).
Setting aside the paid unlocks for just a moment, I suppose I can see why they wouldn't want to hand out all the VIP maps up front. The BF:BC2 VIP code is part of EA's Project Ten Dollar program to discourage the used game market they revile so often, and I actually applaud publishers who try to do something proactive beyond whinging to GameStop to cut it out. And sure, they want to increase the perceived value proposition of this incentive by spreading the dividends it pays out over time. And sure, time-released multiplayer maps provide small spikes in renewed community interest, which is nice. But why must they take that extra step of condescending our intelligence? The only thing I can figure is that they still think the concept of "downloading" something is hip and fresh and attractive to young people. But duders, we're over it. We download all kinds of stuff every day; it's mundane now.
Ultimately, a (free) time-released unlock of on-disc content is no different than a traditional task completion based one apart from being out of the player's hands. When I'm playing through a Professor Layton game on DS, I unlock new puzzles by solving puzzles. At some point though, I solve all the puzzles in the "game" and have to wait around for Nintendo to send WFC unlock signals out before I can tackle the last dozen or so puzzles that reside on the cart I bought. I'm not trying to brand that as indefensibly evil or anything, but I do find it inconvenient and insulting.
Oh, and back to charging me extra cash to make use of bits on my original game medium: that shit just needs to stop! I'll pay for DLC, but it had better be new, and truly optional content that you finished after shipping the game at additional development cost to you. If you need to charge more than $60 for your game to recoup your costs then just do it, but be honest about it.