Accessibility Issues

accessibility

Inaccessible doesn’t (always) equal bad; in fact I’m here to argue the case for inaccessibility as a legitimate game mechanic, rather than simply dismissing it as a flaw.

Some games are going to have a degree of inaccessibly as a naturally occurring side-effect of their depth and complexity. Piloting a sidewinder in Elite is never going to be as simple as flinging an “angry bird” across the screen; that’s just a reality of those particular games.

However, being easily understood – for example what you need to do and where you need to go –  is a more governable facet of accessibility and I think some games (Elite is an example of this as well) can be intentionally vague or obtuse in this area by design.

See, the trouble with accessibility in this respect is that it doesn’t leave much to the imagination. In some games – many in fact – that’s absolutely fine. But, in a sandbox game like Elite, you want room for people to figure stuff out; it’s where much of the reward is hidden in the game. The same is true of other sandbox titles, like the survival game Ark for example.

Starting out in Ark is brutal. Not many games will make you feel as lost, confused and vulnerable as the first few hours of Ark. Many will write this off as shoddy “inaccessible” game design and completely overlook how important that learning curve is. Showing you the basics would, without a doubt, make the game much more accessible, but it would also completely undermine both the core survival aspect of the game and also the reward of finally turning the tables on it.

It’s a delicate balance, but the more a game shows you, the more it takes away from you discovering for yourself, and in some genres it’s worth remembering that can actually be quite detrimental.

Sometimes it’s not purely understanding what you need to do that makes a game inaccessible, but the fundamental difficulty in achieving it that is the problem. The obvious solution – one as old as the hills – is that long standing and often condescending difficulty select option (Change “easy” to “recruit” or “beginner” if you want, will still know it means “loser”). There are games where this “accessibility” has been masterfully implemented; Forza Motorsport for example. It takes a fairly complicated racing sim and makes it completely customisable to individual skill levels via a very intuitive user interface. There are other games though, where difficulty is the foundation the franchise is built on.

The most obvious example of this is the souls series of games. For a game that is notoriously difficult and unforgiving, the game has ironically been beaten by more than most because of it. I’d go as far as to say that had the game have had more accessible difficulty settings, not only would it not have been the success it is today, it would be a game breaking addition. Difficulty is the soul of Dark/Demon souls, and it’s also why so many of the other mechanics work well in the game.

From the trial and error mechanics, to soul collecting, character builds, leaving hints and summoning help; it’s all built from the challenge of the game. Undermine that and you would undermine everything.

Inaccessibilities like those found in these games also feed into a wider phenomenon; that of the gaming communities. Say what you like about gamers; when it comes to communities that form from games like Dark Souls, they’re a cohesive bunch that produce invaluable supportive advice for conquering games. From FAQ’s, to Wiki’s, YouTube video’s and forums; people come together to discuss and overcome the challenges at hand in a way that’s quite remarkable. It becomes a group effort, where vast resources of information are created for free by the community, for the community. This level of cohesion is born from inaccessibility and is not found to this degree in games that don’t have it.

From a games critique point of view, accessibility is certainly a slippery subject; one that really does boil down to personal opinion, but one that I think is definitely deserving of more careful consideration. It’s all too easy to label a lacking component as bad, without really contemplating if less is sometimes more.

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WWE (Worst Wrestling Experience)

nonono

Sentiments like “they don’t makes games like they used to” are often those of rose-tinted middle-aged gamers, who, like anyone reminiscing, are thinking back to a time that didn’t really exist. It’s a distorted version of events within ones mind, one where the bland has been lost to the shadows and only the shiny bits remain.

When I found myself uttering that same sentiment recently, I was however musing about more negative connotations; I was thinking about how games aren’t anywhere near as shitty as they used to be.

Like a spreading fire, such a statement is sure to trigger alarm bells on multiple levels. Firstly among those who are bound (obligated even) to protest that there are indeed plenty of shitty games out there today; that in fact anything that scored below a 9, or anything they don’t enjoy on a personal level is, undeniably, “shit”.

Then there will be those that have sensed an attack on their cherished childhood; that someone has dared to claim things weren’t magical and perfect “back in the day”. They may even be reeling off lists of classics games in their head. Ocarina of time, Final Fantasy VII, Lemmings…

To try and dowse the flames a little, or maybe fan them, let me elaborate on this. I’m neither claiming that games today are now perfect, nor that they ALL used to be shitty; it was a mere observation that I don’t recall, in recent memory, playing a game that was fundamentally bad.

Sure, the millionth iteration of Call of Duty may not exactly be the innovation in first person shooter that we’d all like – it’s probably more of the same stuff we’re bored of – but it’s not a bad game; it’s mechanically sound. And the same goes for everything I’ve played recently. Being a kid of the 80’s (and not denying the gems) I can remember a time when games – or should I say gaming – wasn’t so reliable. For every “Pong” there were multiple “ET’s”, most of which the names I can’t even remember. Things have since vastly improved, because that is simply how progress works. Developers have learnt from their mistakes, they’ve learnt what does and doesn’t work, and the quality benchmark is a lot higher now.

With that in mind, it was a bit ironic to then stumble across a game that laughed in the face of such sentiments. A game that proved bad idea’s are still alive and kicking. A game that has decided to fight for the survival of shit games as a concept.

Before I go any further, I feel I have to disclose that I am not a wrestling fan. I didn’t “get it” until it was too late. The idea of a fake sport just seemed…pointless, so I ignored its existence. It was only whilst watching it round a friends that I realised it isn’t a sport at all; it’s a soap opera for teenage boys, and that was the appeal. That said, I was a fan wrestling games, because beating the living shit out of people transcends subject matter boundaries; it’s a universal good.

T’was because of this (and because it was free) that I thought I’d give WWE 2K16 a go on Xbox One. I was harbouring fond memories of games like WWF Warzone and Wrestlemania 2000 on the N64, so thought it would be an enjoyable romp.

On firing the game up, I was pleasantly surprised (and confused) to see Stone Cold Steve Austin on the title screen! I kinda assumed things would have moved on in the last 20 years, but it was nice to see a familiar face from the N64 days and it got things off to a great start.

Moving through the menu’s and I was instantly taken in by the wealth of gameplay options, the oiled up men and thumping background music. I’d soon created a badass custom wrestler – who looked like a jacked up hillbilly – and started what appeared to be a fully fleshed career mode. This however, was when things started taking a turn for the worst.

Wrestling games of my era were fast, fluid, arcadey type affairs. They had all the necessary characters, moves and fanfare seen in the “sport” itself, but the gameplay was generally a button mashy system that anyone could play. WWE 2K16 seems to have moved much more towards the sim genre, which in itself wouldn’t be a bad thing, had it not been for a couple of critical issues.

Many key elements that make up the wrestling match are now carried out via mini-games. This could potentially of worked quite well had the choice and implementation of the games been better. For context, the submission mini-game has you control a coloured bar, chasing (or being chased by) your opponents coloured bar round in a circle. The transition from gameplay to this mini-game is jarring and far from intuitive. It doesn’t feel fun or fitting, it just feels weird and frustrating; but then at least it’s not as game breakingly bad as pinning, which is probably the single biggest problem in WWE 2K16.

Getting pinned in WWE 2K16 triggers a quick time event. Yes, you read that correctly: a quick time event. Although the difficulty of said QTE is linked to your health, it quickly becomes more luck than skill. A win/lose that is little more than a dice roll. That alone is a horrible, horrible idea but unfortunately it works hand in hand with some other issues that create the perfect storm of failure.

The AI is extremely proficient at kicking out of pins, even if you’ve completely dominated them. You can beat seven shades of shit out of them, perform a fucking finisher on them, and still have them merrily kick out like “it ain’t no thang”. This will draw the match out longer, eventually meaning you yourself will get pinned and have to face the horrific quick time event.

The third and final nail in the coffin is the control issues. There often seems to be a distinct disconnect between what you want to do and what actually happens on screen. This ranges from input lag and inputs not registering, to picky contextual manoeuvres like tagging in your partner. It compounds the other issues and raises frustration to controller-throwing levels of annoyance.

WWE 2K16 falls at the first hurdle, which is a real shame because there’s such a potential for greatness and at times it reminded how much fun wrestling games can be. Some may be able to play past the issues – which is great as there’s a wealth of content there – but for many I think the game will have them tapping out in submission.

 

By an Inch or a Mile

vin-diesel-fast-furious

We’ve all had it: You’ll be happily driving along the road, minding your own business, when out of nowhere some cunt suddenly pulls out on you and they give you a look like it was all your fault! It’s that fucked-up douche-bag mentality that perfectly sums up my mate @m0nkeymunch and what happened during a race in Forza many years ago.

To this day he not only protests his innocence, but he claims the error was on my part: that I rammed him off the road, making him career off the course like the massive n00b that he is. This simply isn’t the case. I’m an excellent driver and always race cleanly – even when faced with a Honda Civic driving granny, getting in my fucking way (aka M0nkeyMunch). Now I could waste time explaining how Munch – no doubt lost in thought about booking in his next blue rinse – lost control of his car, smacked into me (the innocent victim) and then completely fucks up the corner; or I could just show you the video evidence:

Even in the face of such damning evidence, Munch still refuses to accept responsibility for what he did. Being the bigger man, and with the imminent release of Forza 6, I’ve agreed to a re-match. The same course, the same stock Audi R8’s and no doubt the same inevitable outcome of me winning. Should Munch actually manage to beat me, he may not be able to undo his past ills, but at least he’ll be able to save some face.

In preparation of the race, I’ve found this video for you to hone your driving skills munch:

Bus Wankers

Over the course of history, gaming has amassed a pretty eclectic arsenal of weapons in its armoury. These range from brutal weapons like the cerebral bore, amusing ones like South Parks cow launcher and through to the truly iconic ones, such as Dooms shotgun. However, it’s rare that anyone takes the time to give a shout out to the fucking annoying ones: the ones that have you muttering “mother fucker” under your breath, as you shake your head at the screen. Here are some of the best, annoying weapons.

Proximity Mines (Goldeneye 007)

Goldeneye may have been a great game with an awesome multiplayer, but these little fuckers were a real pain in the arse. Once enabled, it wasn’t long before each level was littered with these insta-death bastards. The only saving grace was that no one really got the chance to be overly smug with them. You’d rarely get the chance to finish chuckling over a successful kill before you yourself would get a taste of the same medicine. You’d round a corner and then “BOOM!”, another life lost to someone else’s hidden death-trap.

"Mwahaha.......oh, fuck it"

“Mwahaha…….oh, fuck it”

Today’s variant would probably be the claymore. Although generally more balanced than Goldeneys legacy version, they still won’t have you cheering “Well played”, as you wait for your character to respawn.

N00b Tubes (Multiple titles)

A classic example of why we can’t have nice things. I’ve not played a recent release where the grenade launcher hasn’t been nerfed into irrelevance. It’s for good reason though. I still remember the early days of COD, where you’d spawn into a brand new match and straight into a mortar strike of ‘tubes from the opposing side.

'cos it takes skill when we do it

‘cos it takes skill when we do it

That said, I do think the infamous noob-tube has been overly chastised for its crimes. For every brainless tubing maniac, there is a dedicated tubing professional. OK, maybe that ratio is more like 10 to 1: anyway, the point is that there is an skilful art to successful tubing. Launching a grenade half way across a map and straight through a first floor window takes not only practice, but also a healthy understanding of trajectories. Unfortunately it’s an unrespected art, and kills via the grenade launcher – no matter how skilful – are still worth less than nothing.

Tracer Dart Gun (Battlefield Bad Company)

The intended use of this weapon was to tag enemy armour, allowing engineers rockets to home in on the target. The common usage however, was to shoot allied troops – especially recon (snipers) – in the face with it, lighting them up like a Yuletide Christmas tree.

tracerdart

Bringing a whole new meaning to lighting someone up

Not only was this aesthetically pleasing to the griefer, but the unsuspecting victim would also be treated to the annoying red flash on their HUD, until such time that the enemy put them out of their misery. It was one of those things that was kinda amusing the first time, then just fucking annoying the next hundred times.

C4 (Multiple titles)

Explosive kills are always a bitter pill to swallow, but C4 tends to be especially frustrating. If it was a matter of a carefully placed trap, setup at a natural choke point and detonated remotely, then it might be tolerable.

"But only ever used for suicide bombing"

“But only ever used for suicide bombing”

However, that’s almost never the case. What you get instead is some psychotic little maniac chasing you with C4 and, in their desperation to get a kill, blowing themselves up in the process. Yeah, nice one you suicidal twat. You can’t really claim that’s a win, if you take yourself out in the process. How about talking yourself out of the fucking game in future?

Blue Shell (Mario Kart)

This one is the winner for me. It takes a special kind of arsehole to design a weapon like this. In fact, the levels of arseholary here are so high that it actually borders on the commendable. The blue shell has one purpose: to punish people for winning. Once launched, this unblock-able weapon locks onto whoever is in first place and blows the shit out of them. You can be out in front the entire game, out classing everyone in the match, only for some arsehole to fire one of these right before the finish line to rob you of your win.

Because luck trumps skill

Because luck trumps skill

Die hard Mario Kart’ers will no doubt claim that tactical positioning is all part of the game: staying in the middle of the pack and making your move in the final furlong, like you’re Frankie Dettori on wheels. That’s bollocks though. Frankie isn’t faced with the green shell, fireball, boomerang randomness of keeping the pace; neither is he blue shelled into oblivion when he gets out in front and there’s nothing more annoying than a catch 22.

BAN THIS FILTH!

I’m a gamer.  I game.  I’ve been gaming for years.  Decades in fact.  I used to just think of it as a hobby – something I did in my spare time.  The harsh truth of the matter is that I am actually a lazy wanker and gaming is my daily escapism from the stressful phenomenon we call real life.  Once I turn that console on and start “dishing teh pwn cakez” on call of duty, all the stress and hassle of  real life just melts away.  And i’m addicted to that.  Its OK though, I’ve come to terms with this truth, i’m fine with it, and I can move on.  Now that i’m no longer in denial, I thought everything was OK again.

I used to think gaming was OK

I used to think gaming was OK

My most recent large scale “lazy wanker escapism” has been to run away to the virtual world of minecraft.  I spend hours digging away in caves, minding my own business, perfectly happy and relaxed in this blocky utopia.  That was all up until recently, when my eyes were opened to reality under the surface.  Thanks to recent articles of pure journalistic insightful zealousness (JIZ) I’ve been informed about the staggering levels of violence, racism and sexism that exist in this shady industry.  Articles from feminist frequency and major gaming sites, are soo deep and soo profound that you can almost taste the JIZ.  When the JIZ hits you soo hard between the eyes like this, you can’t help but be awoken by it.

Armed and empowered by a healthy dose of JIZ, I started to look at minecraft in a completely different light.  First look at the character you play as by default.  Steve.  Steve the MAN.  Not a woman, A MAN!  Don’t try and tell me that was some freak accident, i’m not willing to entertain that for a second.  THAT WAS DONE BY DESIGN.  When you start up a new game of minecraft you will be forced into a MANS body.  This is clearly the work of egotistic male dominance.  Its sick, but it gets worse…..it gets much, much worse.  Hit F5 a couple of times and take a look at Steve the MAN.  What colour is Steve?  Yup, you guessed it, Steve (the man) is white!  Clearly not happy with just blatant sexism, Notch had to toss racism into the mix as well.  Any black people playing the game will be forced to play it through the eyes of a white man.  Its like the slave trade all over again.  Talking of slaves, who are the only ENEMIES in the game that you see lugging heavy blocks around?  The BLACK endermen.  You sick Swedish spaz hole.

A sword, or a phallic tool used to beat black females to death with?

A sword, or a phallic tool used to beat black females to death with?

Its not long before this snowball of realisation, rolling down “moral mountain” turns into a full scale avalanche.  What colour do you think the evil end boss is, that our brave white male Steve sets out to vanquish?  Yeah, by now I don’t even need to say it, you’ve guessed already.  Black!  Once again though, that’s not enough for Notch. Ooooh no, not in the slightest.  Notch isn’t happy until he’s double tapped political correctness in the head.  Upon killing the evil boss and ridding the world from its blackness, all that is left is its egg.  Yes, its egg.  You know what that means don’t you?  The evil black end boss that need to be killed by our brave, white male hero IS FEMALE.  The staggering truth that is festering beneath the surface of this seemingly innocent video game is disgusting.

To anyone that reads this and has received the gift of my JIZ, I ask you to do the only thing that is morally plausible in this situation. BAN THIS FILTH.  Visit the minecraft.net website and take a look at that purchase counter.  Each time that number spins around its another win for racism and sexism.  Shame on you Mojang.  SHAME…ON….YOU!  The next time you play a video game, take a second to analyse what is going on behind the scenes.  Read between the lines, read under the lines, fuck it, make the lines up if you have to, its all for the greater good.  Luckily, we are not alone.  Rivers of JIZ on this subject are flowing from the mouths of game journalists, the NRA (World leaders of anti-violence and pacifist behaviour) and even peoples mums.  Working together we can bring an end to this dark seedy industry and ban video games forever.  Moaning about this shit is the first step on the slippery slope to a safer, censored tomorrow.

The rise of “PC” gaming

I never used to relish the prospect of buying new underpants.    It’s not that I have either a phobia of underpant shopping or a fetish for going commando, I just harbour very little interest in shopping for pants.  It was just another one of lifes somewhat arbitrary tasks that had to be done.  These days though, the thought of shopping for underpants isn’t such a dull proposal.  See the place where I go to replace my burnt out tighty whities, is now also the place where I can go to checkout the latest game releases.  Computer games are no longer restricted to dedicated home computer shops or specialist magazines.  The rise in popularity of the computer game has seen it pushed right to the forefront of the entertainment market.

Pants…made better by gaming

Having grown up with and been involved with gaming all my life, its become one of my greatest passions.  Watching it transcend from its arcade roots and spearhead its way into the heart of home entertainment fills me with a strange sense of pride.  I still remember the excitement I felt the very first time I saw a TV advert for a computer game and now these days you can’t help but see game advertising at every turn.  Its like the mainstream world is finally starting to understand what I have been banging on about all these years.  Like I can finally stand up and say “I told you so!”

However – with gaming being pushed into the limelight, it seems its also being put under the microscope.  With the popularity and revenue growths have come the media coverage and journalism.  Games and their content are now reviewed, analysed and dissected more than they ever have been in the past.  Some of which, and usually the most disturbing for me, is from outside of the industry.  Individuals with political correctness agendas have started to take an increased interest in the medium.  Recently, feminist issues around both the portrayal and equality of female characters within games have been a point of contention.

Stupid bint has been captured again….

I don’t have an issue with people standing up for what they believe in.  If anything, I respect it.  But when you start trying to apply real life ethical issues, such as feminism, to the virtual reality of gaming, you fall off your high horse at the first hurdle.  In being virtual reality, video games  by their very nature don’t have to adhere to the rules applied to real life.  In fact this simple, fundamental element of video games is probably their biggest draw and something that all gamers are acutely aware of.  We play games to break free of the constraints of real life and propel ourselves into a reality that is different, one that exists on a completely separate plateau to that of actual reality.  To put it another way, they aren’t a real representation of life or are they trying to be. Feminist complaints hold little to no value in this virtual reality.  In this reality I just spent five minutes doing doughnuts over a policeman’s corpse.  I only stopped so I could get out and teabag the bloody remains.  I certainly didn’t stop to weight up the political implications of why it was a policeman and not a policewoman or should that be police person?

Should something soo wrong, feel soo right?

Even if I do stop to give these complaints pause for thought, the outcome is far from sympathetic.  If anything, I find myself becoming hostile.  I don’t have a problem with the issues themselves.  My annoyance around these real life issues being aimed at the games industry is that they don’t even stem from any desire to improve gaming.  They are simply using gaming as a easy stepping-stone to further their own agendas, which is neither big nor clever.  Far from improving gaming, binding game development to political correctness can only serve to restrict creativity and diversity within the industry.

If you’re going to make any changes to games that involve females, don’t do it for the sake of equality, do it for the sake of gaming.  Do it for reasons like “Not having female characters in an Aliens game is stupid, the entire series is based around a female lead character” and not for reasons like “I’ve put a man in this game so I must now put a woman in it as well”.  Gaming has always been about extremes and unfortunately this doesn’t always leave much room for ideals like equality.

There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza

Once upon a time, in a bedroom far far away, a child placed a game cartridge into a console, pressed the power button and started playing the game….

“What!?”, I hear you cry, “No dashboard update?  No game update?  Preposterous!!!  Stop this nonsense at once!”

However the story I speak of is no fairy tale, its narrative is rooted firmly in reality.  There was a time where you could simply take a game out of its case, whack it in  the console and start playing.  The duration between not playing and playing could be measured in mere seconds!  I may have neglected to mention the bit where the game froze up completely, the child had to remove the cartridge, give it a decent blow and restart the game – but hey, nothing’s perfect!

It had “Mega” in its name for a reason

Ok, so I may be a tad guilty of viewing the gaming world through rose tinted retro glasses.  A forgotten golden age of gaming where everything was perfect and soo much better than the monstrosity we’re faced with today.  The reason its a forgotten age though, is because it didn’t really happen like that.  Despite patching being a bit of a pain in the rear, especially on those unfortunate occasions where a sizeable update coincides with a quick half an hour gaming session, the benefits do out-weight the drawbacks.  The ability to patch games post release means that not only can bugs be fixed, but enhancements can also be made.  Its a win win (bi-winning baby) situation….well that’s the theory anyway.

Patching is handled differently, with varying degrees of effectiveness,  platform to platform and even game to game.  Lets start with the worst offender, the Playstation 3.  For some unknown reason, PS3 game patches are massive,  frequent and it would appear they can only be installed consecutively.  This nasty combination is loathsome at the best of times, but apply it to an older game that has been subject to heavy patching and the situation becomes absurd.  Little Big Planet requires no less than 27 updates, each of which has to run in sequence and some being over 100mb.  Or to put it another way;  the night you decide to play the game for the first time, is not actually the same as the night you get to play the game for the first time.  There is no on screen option to opt out of doing the update, but pressing the circle button actually works as a stealth bypass option.  Don’t get too excited though as the game will keep interrupting you in the middle of gameplay to remind you it needs to be updated.

Sonys Patchstation 3

Online games rarely offer you any escape at all.  If you want to continue playing them, you have to download the latest updates.  BF3 likes to label its larger updates as “optional” but its unclear as to why.  BF3 updates are optional in the same way that breathing is optional.  Yeah, you can opt out of the latest massive 2gb update, but good luck finding a game – there aren’t any!  Given that BF3 currently requires over 9GB of “optional” updates, I can only assume Dice decided to use this labelling so they have an excuse for the disgruntled 4GB xbox 360 slim users that have been patched out of the game!  “Hey, don’t blame us!  Those updates were optional”

See this is one of the biggest problems with patching, you get very little say in the matter.  Some games on PC still make you hunt down the patch and manually install it.  Although its more time consuming, the auto update alternative that most games today employ is negated by the fact they don’t give you any information on what they are actually changing.  At least when you hunt down a patch for yourself you generally find out whats included in it and if you actually want it. However, due to the blind, often compulsory  auto-updating of games, you tend to only notice patched content when its something you find detrimental.  “Why can’t I find a normal game in BF3?” They patched it?  “Why doesn’t my shotgun kill people anymore?”  They patched it.  “Why is smithing levelling soo slow now?”  They patched it!!!  MAG released a nice big 2.0 game update packed full of changes intended to enhance the game.  Admittedly it was done with the best of intentions, but the upshot was it caused random game crashes that didn’t occur before the patch.  Given the choice, I am sure that most gamers would have preferred if it was reverted back to its pre-patch (working) form.

Added Waggle support…but at what cost?

Despite the issues, most are more an annoyance than actually being terminal.  The same cannot be said however, for the time that Forza 3, undeterred by not actually being connected to the internet, demanded I update my game via the internet and wouldn’t allow me to access my game save until I did so.  I wasn’t even trying to play online, I was simply trying to continue my offline career!  In all my years of gaming, its stands as one of the most ridiculous issues I’ve been subjected to.  Not being able to access my offline game because I wasn’t able to get online.

Patching doesn’t need to be bad, it doesn’t need to be broken and we shouldn’t really need to live in fear of it. Developers simply need to learn the simple rule of;  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.   Test your games a bit more before you release them and stop abusing the patch system.  Heed your mothers advice.  If you keep playing with that thing, its going to fall off!

The DLC Debacle

Downloadable content (DLC) used to be an exciting proposition.  Aging online multiplayer games would be given a fresh breath of life by some new, often free, downloadable maps and sometimes game modes.  Single player campaigns that were long beaten would be revitalised with expansive new content offerings.  DLC, as a concept, was a good thing.  It offered value for money additional gameplay to titles that had run their course in their vanilla, out of the box form.

DLC doesn’t have to be bad

But that was then.  DLC has since lost its way.  Although “lost its way” doesn’t really do it justice.  Saying DLC has lost its way is akin to saying that the nice kid from down the street that grew up to become a rapist “Lost his way”.  DLC has become evil – So evil in fact, that in some of the worst cases, I’ve started to reconsider my feelings about piracy.

See its been a slippery slope for DLC.  It started with subtle changes.  Map packs stopped being free.   They started getting released with increased frequency.  They pushed up the price.  They left less time between a product launching and downloadable content becoming available.  At first you just thought it was a bit odd – you were surprised to see they’d expanded on a game that hadn’t even been out long.  Why didn’t they just hold off a little and release it as part of the game?  Then the penny begins to drop and you realise its not weird,  its been done by design.

See its not new additional content at all.  Its held back content that they are choosing to release as DLC in order to give them a second bite of the cherry.  Its a cheap and dirty tactic but rather than show any guilt or try to mask their underhanded profiteering, they embrace it.  Day one DLC…..and just when you think it can’t get any worse, you discover that they can’t even be arsed to release it as a separate entity.  Content locked “DLC” on the disc.  Content that could of been on the disc, now is on the disc, but they want you to pay again to access it.  Its at around this point that my dim view of piracy gets a little skewed.

I don’t agree with piracy.  I think that if you want a game, you should pay for it.  However I also feel that when you purchased that game, you paid for the case, the manual and disc with everything that is on it.  That’s now your game disc to do with as you please.  If you want to use it as a fancy beverage coaster, than so be it.  If you want to use it as a mini frisbee, than so be it.  If you decide to inspect the data, locate some locked content and find a way to get at it, THEN SO BE IT.  Its your fucking disc now.  If they didn’t want you to have that content, they shouldn’t have put it on the disc they are selling to you.  If piracy is theft, how can you steal something that you own?

I also think you have the right to sell it, so it grinds my gears that certain publishers think they have the right to use downloadable online passes to discourage second hand sales.  It reduces a games resale value and if you reduce a games resale value, you’ve reduced products overall value.  Take into account all the content that was never put on the disc on the first place so they can sell it to you later as DLC and well, you’re getting into a pretty ludicrous situation.  Especially when you expect people to buy the game new and at full price.  The move to free to play content models highlight this point well.  The actual “game” they give you isn’t worth shit.  Its not much more than a fucking DLC hub –  a portal to content you need to pay for. But hey, it’s free to play.  Its very hard to moan about value for money when something is free.  Its another thing altogether when they are asking, no wait, expecting you to pay full price for games employing free to play ethics.  In the words of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, these publishers want to fuck you in the arse without the common courtesy of a reach around.

“What is your major malfunction numb nut?”

Despite this rant though, it’s hardly surprising given the consumer base, populated by what can only be described as well….you tell me.  Given what I’ve just said, you might think that people would have negative feelings towards DLC.  Infact, its quite the opposite.  People are now willing to pay for POTENTIAL DLC.  Virtual fucking DLC.  Pay now for future DLC!  They have become soo accepting of their own stupidity and resigned themselves to the fact that “well I’m gonna buy it anyway” they actually think they are getting a bargain out of the deal.  In short, its kinda hard to be mad at the publishers for their behaviour when you have a market made up of soo many people with their trousers round their ankles, begging for a hard anal fucking.