Do you have to use the word "download" here?

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.

7 Comments
7 Comments
Edited by Donos

Just to get this out of the way, I'll say that I completely support on-disc unlocks. When you buy the game, with nothing unlocked, you already deemed what was currently available to be worth your money. The fact that additional content beyond what you chose to pay for happens to be taking up some of the wasted space on the disc in no way devalues that content, nor the game, and actually helps people like me who already have very little hard disk space to spare. You bought for what DICE told you they were selling, not everything DICE happened to be working on during the development cycle. Demanding that DICE include every last bit of content they happened to make before the ship date is like demanding they also send you a pre-Alpha copy of Mirrors Edge 2.
 
Also worth noting is that there have been several hundred mb of "content updates" which presumably contained many of the map packs, as well as the costumes and Onslaught mode. (Notice these giant updates right before they became available?). So it would appear the paid DLC was made after the game shipped, and was downloaded as per usual. The only difference is that you downloaded the content before paying, not after.
 
Now as to using the word "download," I see your point, but I don't think the entire market is as aware as you think. I'm sure EA has a ton of market research on this point, but my impression is that maybe 25% of the crowd will be slightly more enticed by the word "download," while the remaining 75% either won't notice it or won't care enough to do anything about it. Maybe in a couple years after the market has acclimatized to the whole concept a little more, they won't bother with this tactic, but until that time.. enjoy your "downloaded" content. 

Edited by pweidman

On disk or not, whatever, but don't call an unlock a DL.  It's a lie and one EA knows they can get away with.  It also reflects the lack of respect they have for their consumers and gamers in general.  That's what really burns me up.  Yo EA:  Honest PR is good PR, and good PR is good business.  Business 101 really, and the most successful ones get it.  EA: How's your financial outlook?  How many layoffs past year?  How many dev houses shuttered?  Get it together, and start with dropping all these silly lies and just be straight up w/your customers about all things, dlc, online fees, VIP codes, etc. 
Posted by dudeglove
@RuinRunner: This reminds me of the major beef I had with Final Fantasy 3 on the DS. If you were able to send x amount of messages via friend codes through the wi-fi to other FF3 players, a hidden boss was unlocked as were various other game-breaking jobs. I didn't have wi-fi, nor did I know any other DS players, and even less had a copy of FF3. It was a case where I felt as though I had truly been cheated out of content that was clearly on the cartridge, but was inaccessible due to some asshole thinking a fourth wall-breaking element would somehow add to gameplay.
 
Yeah, that game sucked ass, and the final boss was a pain in the ass.
Posted by RuinRunner
@Donos  You are right about Onslaught Mode, and I happily handed over ten bucks to download and play it.  That was new, optional content that was produced and distributed post-release through the ~300Mb multiplayer update that preceded it by about a week.  To your other point, while I see what you are saying, I just think it is a slippery slope to start cordoning off chunks of content that were produced in time to master the disc.  Following that idea toward its logical conclusion quickly leads to crummy behaviors like charging money for New Game + modes and making players wait to proceed to each new chapter of a game until a certain day of the week like a TV show.  Actually I'd better stop there before I give EA too many more free ideas.
Posted by Six

call it ULC instead of DLC.  since it is more of an unlock than a download?
then they can make a Ultimate Edition that come with all the "extra" content unlocked early for 89 bucks... then sell you actual DLC later.

Edited by Donos
@RuinRunner said:

" @Donos  You are right about Onslaught Mode, and I happily handed over ten bucks to download and play it.  That was new, optional content that was produced and distributed post-release through the ~300Mb multiplayer update that preceded it by about a week.  To your other point, while I see what you are saying, I just think it is a slippery slope to start cordoning off chunks of content that were produced in time to master the disc.  Following that idea toward its logical conclusion quickly leads to crummy behaviors like charging money for New Game + modes and making players wait to proceed to each new chapter of a game until a certain day of the week like a TV show.  Actually I'd better stop there before I give EA too many more free ideas. "

The thing is, I think the realities of the market and advertising prevent the slippery slope, or really any significant movement in either direction on this system.
 
If much more content were locked out of the game's release, then people wouldn't buy the game, for it would have less than a full games worth of content (hurting advertising, and ruining day 1 reviews). If much less content were locked out,  then they would start losing out on the lasting value of releasing content over time, decreasing long term sales. Basically, I think things will stay right about where they were with BC2: One average game's worth of content at launch, no more, no less. Afterwards, unlocks just big enough to keep people coming back, and to justify advertising based on the extra content.
 
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Come to think of it, this might have just been a one-off strategy never to be repeated. GIven how rushed DICE seems with Medal of Honor, maybe they knew they just didn't have time for full post-launch support  of BC2, so they just ginned up this extra content early in BC2's dev cycle while they had the chance instead of generating much new stuff.
Posted by Infininja
@Donos:  The first multiplayer update didn't come out until well after I had unlocked my SPECACT gear through the Dr. Pepper website. What it did include were those pictures of your outfit on the class selection screen (which are mostly correct). The second multiplayer update did contain onslaught mode, though.