Resident Evil 5 DLC Controversy
Resident Evil 5 gets new DLC in the form of Versus Mode for $4.99 or 400 Microsoft Points. Gamers were in an uproar when told they would have to pay for this online mode so soon after the game's release. Now, more fuel has been added to the fire.
Apparently, the controversy revolves around whether your 5 bucks goes towards the purchase of a key that unlocks content already existing on your disc or rather to new content being downloaded from the marketplace. The download size for RE5 Versus Mode is 1.86MB on Xbox LIVE and 351KB on PSN, which is pretty small but larger than the usual file size of unlock keys. However, since Versus Mode relies on preexisting assets in the game, this may justify its unusually small size.
In a statement to IGN, Capcom explained that they needed to charge for Versus Mode in order to fund the development of "content that was created outside the scope of the original design of Resident Evil 5. [Versus Mode] is an all new mode that required additional resources to create, not to mention the additional bandwidth costs." Bandwidth costs refers to Sony's policy of charging publishers for server space and bandwidth spent on downloading content through PSN.
Unlock keys are not a new entity in the DLC marketplace. Many companies have experimented with charging consumers for unlocking preexisting content in the form of additional stages, costumes, in-game cheats, new vehicles, game currency, or character level progression.
Beautiful Katamari is a notorious example of a glorified demo masquerading as a full retail game. To experience the entire game, players had to pony up for a copious amount of unlock keys. More recently, Capcom charged $20 for unlocking all the Street Fighter IV costumes that existed straight off the disc -- a pricing practice that had us feeling foolish, as covered in a previous GameFlavor article.
Ultimately, it is up to the consumer to determine which DLC is worth paying for. If the content is compelling, consumers will support it. The only company that's been doing it right so far is Criterion. They supported the community with a year's worth of free game updates for Burnout Paradise, and only recently did they start charging for add-on packs. So game companies should look to Criterion's example when deciding which items to push as DLC, or else risk earning a bad reputation for nickle-and-diming the consumers.
Let it be known -- The limits are being tested right now with every vote of your wallet.
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