The Controversy Behind On-Disc Downloadable Content

UPDATE: Bioware made a statement in response to this article in order to clear up the matter.

“There has been a lot of discussion this weekend about our DLC, and I just wanted to say a few things…

From Ashes is a 600 MB+ download with all new content, including the mission on Eden Prime, new dialogue options and conversations with Javik, new cinematics, the Prothean weapon, and new appearances for all squad members. All of the above content was completed while the main game was in certification and are not available on the disc.

As stated previously, in order to seamlessly integrate Javik into the core campaign, certain framework elements and character models needed to be put on disc. We did something similar with Zaeed and Kasumi in Mass Effect 2.”


Nothing quite gets a gamer more heated than the feeling of being cheated. This feeling can come from falling off a cliff in Super Mario Bros when you could have sworn you hit the jump button in time or maybe you’re playing Call Of Duty and someone gets a kill on you just as you spawned back into play. Gamers can also feel cheated financially which brings us to the topic on whether or not it’s a good business practice to have downloadable content (DLC) stored in a game disc and later unlocked for a fee.

The latest example of this comes from the recently released Bioware smash hit, Mass Effect 3. DLC for the game (titled From Ashes) was available on day 1 of the game’s release and sparked up debate on why the content just wasn’t available on the disc itself. Game data on the disc reveals the coding is there for the content minus one part which indicates the unlock key needed to use it. This begs the question, “Why withhold the content if it was available from the beginning?”

From Ashes includes a new Prothean squadmate as well as the backstory and dialog that comes with it. Priced at $10 to download, this is not a cheap purchase and essentially brings the price of the game up to $70. No one is forcing you to buy the content of course but then you have the feeling that you purchased an incomplete product. This form of “buyer’s remorse” is not something I think game developers want to spread for fear of that this business practice will turn fans against them. Personally speaking, it comes across as “penny pinching” and maybe being a little too greedy with something that was made and ready right from the start.

Another recent example of this business practice is brought to us by Capcom and their new fighting game Street Fighter X Tekken. Sources who looked inside the disc noticed code for 12 unavailable characters. These are the same 12 characters who will be available for the PlayStation Vita port of the game therefore confirming that this will be paid DLC in the future for console players. Capcom has stated since this reveal that they included the coding for the characters so that people who don’t have the DLC can still play against people who do.

This comes across again as a clear case of making a cash grab at something that was clearly ready before the game’s release. Capcom in particular has been notorious for this back in the ’90s with iteration after iteration of Street Fighter 2 after the original game’s huge success. Eventually this oversaturated the market and the company ended up shooting itself in the foot by the end of the decade. Street Fighter 4 rejuvenated the series in 2008 and with the success came more iterations that followed closely one after another. A more recent and ridiculous example of this was the close proximity of the releases between Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, the latter of which was announced a mere 5 months after the release of the former.

Do you believe these business practices are justified? Voice your opinion in the poll and comments section below.