Digital Downloads: Selling Out for Convenience

The hazards of emulsion have been thwarted by gamers, but Epic’s Cliff Bleszinski keeps finding new ways to put fear in the hearts of millions. In an interview regarding why on-disc DLC is inconvenient to produce pre-launch, he continues to explain, “If we can get to fully downloadable games, then you can just buy a $30 horror game and just have it, and that stuff will thankfully go away.”

This time Bleszinski is only complaining about on-disc DLC that should be digital. What happens next time? If gaming goes all-digital, the next logical step for developers is to take the majority of your used games away from you.

Evidence blatantly exists with the crippling ‘Online Pass’ in many new shooters. If the game is purchased used, or borrowed from a friend, it all but removes half of the game’s original purpose of playing online without spending additional money. Even when the content is purchased with the game, there has been a history of issues retrieving the data (as some unlucky Arkham City fans would concur). The developer’s pains of production, data encryption, and retail distribution boil down to wasted earnings if games could be fed intravenously through the console itself.

Epic’s Bleszinski seems to be leaning toward a future where digital is king. There is no doubt that DLC has brought a level of convenience to gamers matched only by the increase in revenue for developers. Ostracizing DLC would shoot the foot of every hardcore gamer, and no one is interested in biting the hand that feeds us hours of additional gameplay. However, the course is becoming clearer, and many do not appreciate the end result.

So is there still time for gamers to fight against the current? BioWare is already in the process of offering gamers free DLC to help rectify the issues of the Mass Effect 3 ending uproar. This occurs while Capcom ‘handles’ BBB complaints regarding locked on-disc content for Street Fighter X Tekken by describing how DLC and on-disc content is nearly interchangeable. In other words, Capcom officially feels that locking game content on the disc you purchased, only to be purchased via DLC download at a later date, is the same as never placing the data on the disc in the first place.

Lines are blurring, and it seems gamer’s rights are preferable only to those who do not see dollar signs in lines of code. Remember when backwards compatibility became a lost cause?  Then what happens to GameStop? How about the mainstream retailers like Target and BestBuy who are slowly investing in the used game market? What happens to the prices at GameFly and Redbox when they are required to purchase special licensing agreements in order to distribute to individual renters?

Speak your mind. There may not be much time left to do otherwise.