Fergusson Justifies Selling You Content That’s Already On Your Gears of War 3 Disc
You know that first batch of Gears of War 3 DLC you downloaded the other day with your $30 Season Pass? Did you wonder why that download only racked up to a couple of megabytes? That’s because you already have that content — it’s on the Gears 3 disc you purchased in the store.
Gears 3 players all over the Internet are pretty incensed by the fact that the DLC they paid for isn’t DLC at all, necessarily — what you downloaded from Xbox Live was an unlock code, essentially, and the Horde Command Pack DLC is already stored on Gears 3 discs players bought at retail. Rod Fergusson, Epic Games’ executive producer, doesn’t see a problem with that. He told Kotaku in an interview that the disc isn’t the game, but rather, the delivery system for receiving the game.
See, what happened was, Gears 3 got pushed back from its spring release date. When that happened, the devs over at Epic were already putting in the time on its various DLC packages, since no game is released today that’s complete when you buy it. By the time Gears 3 was released back in September, Epic figured they’d just slap the Horde Command Pack on the disc and let users unlock it when they purchased the DLC — no muss, no fuss. They didn’t even try to hide it, Fergusson said; some other studios or publishers use the same trick, but they’ll throw a digital video or something else in the download file in order to pass it off as DLC-sized.
Fergusson said throwing the DLC on the disc was a good decision on Epic’s part, because it would have made all players download the DLC in some form or another anyway. In order to allow users to see certain content that others have paid for — like vanity multiplayer items, for example — all the users have to have that content on their hard drives. Leaving the relevant portions accessible on the disc means instead of making every player stop and download the content regardless of whether they wanted to buy it, this way, the downloading is kept to a minimum.
Rod also argues that there was, in fact, a s–tload of content made available to Gears players for their $60 purchase. You get the fully cooperative campaign, Horde and Beast modes (both of which are co-op-based) and the massive multiplayer mode. He thinks players just have trouble with the idea that the content was on the disc, and if it hadn’t been, no one would have had a problem with the DLC or the game as purchased. And in Fergusson’s mind, the disc in this case is just the means in which you’re given the content — having it doesn’t necessarily entitle you to the content on it.
If you ask me, everything Fergusson says makes sense — and yet it still sets a dangerous precedent. Gears 3 does include lots of content and is a worthy $60 purchase, but the prevalence of DLC in every game, and its planning and creation being inserted earlier and earlier into the development process, makes me worry about the idea that you can buy a disc but not be entitled to everything that’s on it.