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Bioshock 2 DLC was already on disc, claim fans

New controversy over downloadable content as Take-Two addresses accusations

New downloadable content for Take-Two's BioShock 2 was already on the game's disc, according to accusations from fans.

The Sinclair Solutions pack was released on Thursday, March 11 and includes two new playable characters, 20 new trials, new upgrades for weapons and an increase of the level cap to 50. The pack is priced at 400 Microsoft Points (£3.40/$5.00).

Fans on the official 2K Forum message board noticed that the download was only 24K in size on the PC and 108K on Xbox 360, implying that the content was already finished and stored on the game disc.

A comment from forum community manager "Elizabeth" tacitly admits that the download was already on the disc, claiming that this was to ensure there was no split in the userbase for the game's multiplayer mode.

Although no formal comment has been made by senior Take-Two staff Elizabeth continued: "I know some of you have strong beliefs about DLC, and I'm not here to sway your opinion or convince you to buy our stuff - if you like what we're offering, I hope you get it and enjoy it. If it's not your speed, enjoy BioShock 2 as we released it."

Charging for content that already exists on a game's disc has proven consistently controversial with fans, with Capcom becoming embroiled in similar user revolts over its Versus mode downloadable content for Resident Evil 5.

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Latest comments (25)

Stephen Northcott Senior Consulting Engineer 11 years ago
It's an interesting concept. Paying for the "right" to use something as opposed to buying a physical item. I use the term physical loosely of course, and mean buying bits.

Basically if you're ok with paying for "the right to use" something then you should be ok with this, and should appreciate the convenience of not having to pull the data down.

Although, conceptually it is weird knowing you already have the stuff on the disc.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Stephen Northcott on 15th March 2010 9:51am

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James Battersby Studying MSc Games Software Development, Sheffield Hallam University11 years ago
Isn't there a clue in the name into how gamers should be acquiring new content with this technology?
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 11 years ago
Conceptually very strange, however if you're willing to pay for downloadable content, then how much difference does this really make to you?
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Show all comments (25)
Joseph Robinson11 years ago
Not so strange...

Empire: Total War had various DLC units already on the disc when it shipped out as well, and people simply paid to 'unlock' them. The thing is, the units needed to be on the disc for design reasons, as not everyone would have bought the DLC. Therefore, non-dlc people could still play against DLC people without any technical problems.
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Neil McPhillips Senior Development Manager, Blazing Griffin11 years ago
There's the issue, if the content isn't on the disc and it involves multiplayer then everyone would need to download it to be able to play together.

Due to the limitation on the size of mandatory updates on 360 it isn't really possible to force this so it has to be on the disc or you limit the people who can play together online.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
Having to pay more for content already on the disc is a very sick practice. That's like being taxed twice for the same purchase. No one would stand for that.

The purpose of DLC is content created AFTER publication provided to enhance the longevity and enjoyment of a game for a small fee.

Paying extra for content already developed and published on the same disc you just paid full price for is wallet raping and taking advantage of your consumer base.

You chide gamers for piracy or buying second hand and yet still have the audacity to demand extra payment for content they've already paid for?
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Aidan Fitzpatrick Artist 11 years ago
@Joseph Robinson
"Therefore, non-dlc people could still play against DLC people without any technical problems."

Im pretty sure some games have tackled that problem directly by releasing free updates that included new assets, which would stay locked until 'purchased'. Maybe one of the Fable games? not sure.
Either way, it's perhaps mostly about perception. People don't like to be given the impression they are getting ripped off even if there is a valid reason for doing things a particular way.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Aidan Fitzpatrick on 15th March 2010 11:15am

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Stephen Northcott Senior Consulting Engineer 11 years ago

I can see where you're coming from. Your argument being that the sticker price presumably covered the costs of developing that stuff as it was done in the same time scale as the main project. But at launch no publisher really knows if it's going to go into profit on a title. (Of course in this case I am sure they had a good idea!)

Personally I am not a fan of DLC unless it is an ongoing development of the product. So I can see how this could be seen as a cynical move by the developers. But at the end of the day they are free to set the price for their base product like any other manufacturer. And it's conceivable that a product may not make back it's costs on the base release alone.

There's lots of ways to look at it. If you are happy with what you got initially there really is no reason to be peeved about this. OTOH if a game is crippled at launch, or it's features removed, to nickel and dime consumers then it's most definitely morally repugnant. I don't think that is the case here though. HOWEVER : In any case, neither of those scenarios have any bearing on whether the content was sent out "locked" but on the disc, or downloaded later.

Similar but not the same : Most electronics these days are manufactured in one process and then crippled before being released in various models. Sony does it with cameras. Likewise floppy discs used to be manufactured as double sided, but single sided ones were only verified as working on one side.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Stephen Northcott on 15th March 2010 11:22am

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Tommy Thompson Studying Artificial Intelligence (PhD), University of Strathclyde11 years ago
Jimmy hit it bang on; this notion of having to pay extra to unlock content on a disc you already purchased is a horrendous business strategy that will only anger consumers. I can understand it *to an extent* with EAs $15 policy since legitimate customers will receive all the content on the disc, except - in the case of BFBC2 - it may take time.

Though there is this horrible situation indicated by Neil that this content has an impact on multiplayer gaming and as such, even if you don't want to pay for the content, you need to have it integrated into the game to compensate for those that have. One approach I've noted is to release free and paid dlc for both parties (I think both Fable II and Marvel Ultimate Alliance did this), but it's still tough to get right.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
Stephen, with regards to the crippled consumer electronics, you can't buy a camera and then pay an extra $x dollars and unlock the extra features of the higher end model. Even if some of the tech exists inside.

And let's look at your financial angle. Say they are unsure if the title at $60 and the DLC at $5 will be profitable. Say the average title gets a 25% DLC share (that might be on the high side for the average game). Say it sells 1 million units at retail meaning you'd get 250k downloads of DLC. Why not just sell it for $65 and be done with it? The consumer feels less ripped off because they are getting the entirety of the contents and the publisher ensures a 100% attach rate for the extra content vs 25% (at best). And you don't leave out those who are without a solid Internet connection.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D11 years ago
I think Archos are notorious for charging for codecs etc for their media players, ones that other players would include as a matter of course.

I guess if something is already on the disk it's not DLC :)

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Stephen Northcott Senior Consulting Engineer 11 years ago
Jimmy, good points. Like I said, I don't necessarily disagree with you.

However, what no-one is dealing with here is the very simple point that I also made, which was that none of this has any bearing on whether the content was sent out "locked" but on the disc, or downloaded later.

**You were always going to be charged extra for it.**

What you need to decide is whether you were happy with what you got initially.

As I also said, I am personally only a fan of DLC that is a further development of the product.
Take Two could have simply done the whole thing as a download and we'd never have been any the wiser.
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Mark Raymond Functionality Tester, SEGA Europe11 years ago
I won't lie, originally I was pretty upset with this. However, I was then reminded that when you're buying a game you're actually buying the licence rather than the entire contents of a disc.

As another wise man pointed out on the Eurogamer comments thread, the real issue is with it being called DLC when it's not DLC. Further, perhaps this could have been communicated by T2 beforehand to avoid the reaction we're seeing now.
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Michael Abraham game designer 11 years ago
what comes to mind for me right now is the Dawn of War games.
you only get 2-3 armies per standalone game for online play. you still have all the data for all the armies on the game disk however.
this is almost identical to this situation with bioshock2, it's just that to "unlock" the additional content you had to buy/own the other versions of Dawn of War.
thing is, no one ever raised a fuss about this.

in my mind it's basically a case of people still preffering to own something physical over something digital (intangible). as a result, if the content is on the disk, the customer assumes it's their right to be able to use it. unless this additional DLC content is being installed to their PC without their knowledge though, they have no right to complain about the situtation (which if anything, only makes it easier to "unlock" the additional content as there's no large download accompanying it).
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Robin Clarke Producer, Zattikka Ltd.11 years ago
You know, this doesn't seem as much like a controversy as it would have a few years ago.

It's now expected practice for AAA games to be supported with additional paid content down the road. There's no reason this content can't exist at the time the game goes to manufacture. If you accept that you're buying a license to use a piece of software, the delivery method is secondary.

(If I download a game demo from Popcap, or a trial application from Adobe, or get Steam to preload an unreleased game, I have physical ownership of the bits of the full product, but I don't expect to be able to use the software without unlocking it.)

Of course the mechanism is open to abuse, but past attempts to push too many of a game's basic features behind a paywall have usually been rejected by the market.
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Philipp Nassau Student - Business Administration (M. Sc.) 11 years ago
It's not that it's in any way unfair to the consumer, it's the fact that it's perceived that way. In most people's minds, the act of buying a game is much more similiar to buying a physical item than it is to licensing. You go into the store, you buy the game, you get what you paid for and this should be everything in the box, nothing less. All of us here are rather involved with the process, the typical consumer is not. He doesn't really grasp the concept of how selling games works (which has always been licensing) because he never had to. This may change in the future when people adapt but right now it causes uproar.
Also, people are not stupid. They can do simple math and they know, paying 5$ for a multiplayer map is ridiculous when they just bought a whole game that ships with 10 for 40$. Yes, everyone who ever audited a lecture on microeconomics knows what's happening there but the reputation you build will reflect not only in having scared away a consumer but a multiplying effect when the whole thing accounts for articles in every video game magazine out there.
Set the price of the game 1$ higher and just include everything you have up to that point, if you've created too much content to cover the costs with a standard price tag you propably just overdid it in the cost sector rather than being super productive and the consumer not seeing that your content is worth so much more. Business is driven by demand, not supply and people will only spend so much on a single experience.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Philipp Nassau on 15th March 2010 1:56pm

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Jack Ward Fincham Assistant Producer, Stainless Games Ltd11 years ago
I must say first I'm a big fan of EA's project $10 (or whatever it's being called) and think it's a fantastic way of reducing preowned domination and reaping a continued benefit from preowned markets. If Bioshock had that system all would be well. However I feel if you're paying to access data on a disc you've already paid for then that's wrong.

I was burgled recently, if I'd walked into GAME and said "I bought a license to content and I still own that license" and walked out with a disc I'd be breaking the law because I actually bought a disc of content. I don't think this situation is much different.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 11 years ago
I think it's a sticky situation and obviously there are benefits for everyone with regard to having the content on the disc already (smaller, quicker download for the consumer, smaller files held on PSN/XBL, etc), but as mentioned above it's the perception of physical ownership vs. licencing that bothers some people, as well as Take Two's definition of what it is you're downloading (if it was explicitly designated an 'Unlock Key' at least it would be more honest of them, although I suspect people would still be up in arms about it).

Furthermore, there's no escaping from the fact that the game has been built and then someone at Take Two has decided that certain aspects are being locked so they can be charged back to the customer. However, this is the reality of gaming these days and the best thing people can do is not buy the content if the practice bothers them.

Lastly, as mentioned above, I too am not a fan of DLC unless it really expands upon the game. Titles like, say, Wipeout HD Fury and PixelJunk Monsters Encore have got it spot-on in my opinion.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Terence Gage on 15th March 2010 5:12pm

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Ashley Stephens11 years ago
considering the augument and the logic of the situation then I'd take it down to this personally:

The consumer is paying for the right to play this one physical disk's worth of digital content, the consumer has not been told EXACTLY what is presented in the finished game and so if there is stuff missing or added without notification then the consumer doesn't know the game is different, but if the digital files of content are on the disk but not in the game and are released at a later date for a price then it is simply saying:

you paid for this disk's content and now we would like you to pay some more money.

Ergo it is pretty much a case of breaking trade laws as far as I can make out
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Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College11 years ago
If it’s on the disc then the content should be accessible, I shouldn’t have to pay extra to access areas of the disc I have already installed on my system.

IMO, DLC should be used to extend a games 'life' not be unlocked a few weeks after initial release when I already had it in the first place!

2K you stink!
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Stephen McCarthy Studying Games Technology, Kingston University11 years ago
someone, somewhere. Will find a way to un-lock this by hacking, with out the game makers knowing.

people do not like the idea of paying more for somthing that have but can not use.

+ I played the mp in that game, and the idea that people paying will have more power to kill me better does not sit well with me. I have a hard time as it is with lv 20-30 players.
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Rob Mathews Specialist Support, Blizzard Entertainment11 years ago
All it seems like is that they had the forethought to include the first round of DLC on the retail disk in order to save people a lot of hastle downloading it, chances are most first round DLC for games is complete or pretty much close to completion when the game is actually shipped, I don't get what all the fuss is about.
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Stephen McCarthy Studying Games Technology, Kingston University11 years ago
Rob> When people buy a game, they think they buying all that on the disk.The DLC for this game was on the disk and that you have to buy somthing that is on the disk to start with. Do you buy somthing, then pay more for somthing that there?
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
Rob, if it's already complete then it's no longer DLC and should be added into the game as with the rest of the data.

We all know this is nothing more than a way to crack a few extra bucks out of consumers.
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Mark Rowley Technical Director, SEGA Australia11 years ago
Content thats complete and on the disk you pay for should be yours, trying to squeeze some extra cash on something you already own is money grabbing.
However I dont think its such a clear cut case .. realistically speaking the content could have been almost complete, placed on disk to dispense with the bandwith consumption, but not enabled by default due to lack of testing, verification and balancing.
This extra work could take place after launch, and when everyone is happy with the quality its released as a 'small' activation download (possibly with a few tweaks or even a fix). In that light I dont see it as being so underhanded.

Unfortunately there is no way to differentiate between the two cases, the end user just has content on the disk that they cant access until they pay more money, and the publisher can manipulate the reasoning why to save face.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Mark Rowley on 16th March 2010 9:05pm

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