The lights are on
Power Member - Level 8
Batman: Arkham City is one of the most anticipated games of autumn. It is also one of, at this point, the most critically acclaimed. It is the sequel to an amazing game that I love very much. It has also made what I feel to be a monumental misstep that has enraged me as a gamer and consumer. That misstep involves the Catwoman DLC and required online code that was announced earlier this week.
I am not a well-funded gaming individual. By saying that, I mean I do not have the resources to purchase every new game, every new piece of hardware that delivers the latest gaming craze, every DLC pack for a game. I do own a Xbox 360. I enjoy it very much. I do not have an Internet connection, as the circumstances I live in prevent me from doing so. Since this effectively prevents me from partaking of DLC, multiplayer, or any other Internet-enabled Xbox features, I have come to a point where the single-player experience for a game is my main draw. I have played the Mass Effect series, the Bioshock series, and Red Dead Redemption over the last year, all of which were phenomenal one-player experiences that I enjoyed immensely. They also, with the exception of the original Bioshock, have DLC and multiplayer features that I never partook of. And you know what? I was perfectly happy with this. I was grateful to even be experiencing these wonderful games. Was I missing out on some pretty significant content at times? Yes, but nothing that affected what I felt was the core experience of the game: the single-player portion that rarely needed any outside enhancement. I even played Halo 3 and what is possibly my favorite game, Halo: Reach without multiplayer, and while I missed it (the multiplayer) I still regularly play the campaign and firefight for long stretches at a time without online play. And why? Because the single-player experience was self-contained and never required any Internet connection to play in a manner that massively overhauled the experience.
At this point you're probably wondering if I'm ever going to get to the point. After that admittedly lengthy paragraph, where I have established that missing out on DLC doesn't really bother me, I'm here to tell you why I'm angry over DLC. As of October 13th or so, I stumbled across an article on IGN (which you can find here) announcing that the Catwoman portion of the new Rocksteady Studios video game Batman: Arkham City would require a DLC code (or an Online Pass as it's called) obtained with a new copy of the game to be able to download and play. There is so much wrong with that sentence I wound up needing an entire blog post to talk about it.
As was established in my second paragraph, I have no Internet connection, and am happy with that because the core single-player experience in pretty much every major game release is self-contained and has no DLC which is essential to the experience in a way that inconveniences gamers like me. Batman: Arkham Asylum was an admirable example of this. It was (and still is) an astoundingly good single-player experience that never forced the Internet onto the player. As such I, like many gamers, looked forward to the sequel to a great single-player which, judging by reviews such as GameInformer's own rare perfect score, is an awesome experience, of which the Catwoman character was supposed to make up a good 10%.
Wait, hold up: was that 10%?
Yes, as was toted several months ago, Catwoman would add some interesting flavor to the game in some pretty substantial ways. Look at it this way: if the length of Batman: Arkham City's core experience (that means the time the story without time spent looking for collectibles, etc) is about twenty hours long, two hours of that experience is spent playing as Catwoman. While that may not sound like much, the ratio shifts with the length of the experience: a ten hour campaign means one hour is spent as the vixen temptress, an 100 hour experience means ten hours are spent, and...well, you get the idea. A decent amount of time was supposed to be spent with this character. According to IGN's video review, the character even changes the way the opening of the game plays out. This is not a character who was included as a distraction, like the Joker Map Pack included with the PS3 version of Batman: Arkham City which was a marginal purchasing incentive that Xbox 360 owners felt mildly irritated by missing out on then moved on with their lives. This is an integral part of the experience in some regards. It literally changes the opening of the game, it's that integral (though yes, the campaign is perfectly playable without the content, it's just missing a whole tenth of the entire experience).
Therefore, when I discovered all of a week before the release that I would not be able to access ten percent of the game without an arbitrary internet connection, I was extremely upset. Batman: Arkham City is a game I very much looked forward to (and still do), and Catwoman was a character who was a very awesome icing on an already delicious cake. To find out that this was all DLC is something I find completely unacceptable. DLC is a part of the gaming industry, and it's something that's both a good business move that prolongs the interest in a product and a potential for a huge boost in post-purchase value for a gamer who loves a game's content and desires more. Some gamers (myself included to some extent) have found the recent trend of DLC being released extremely close to, and sometimes on, launch day to be developers nickel-and-diming consumers, but the small reassurance was that no developer had yet crossed the line of making Day One DLC essential to the experience. And, sadly, Warner Bros. and Rocksteady seem to be the first to do so.
But wait, what's that? This DLC is free with the code that comes with the game? Not so if you're one of the legions of gamers like myself who buy pre-owned for most of their games. I love pre-owned games: the prices are excellent, and since I buy used games from Gamestop, are usually of good quality in relation to disc-condition and like qualities (Gamestop has something of a quality-control deal with pre-owned games, which isn't perfect, but usually works). This is the part where gamers beyond myself should sit up and take notice of the extremely unfair move Warner Bros. and Co. pulled with this game: as of now, outside of Gamestop, gamers who purchase used copies of Batman: Arkham City will have to pay an additional cost for 10% of their game. This is an extremely unfair policy for any gaming company to take, let alone one with such a huge release as Arkham City. It's even more absurd considering the vast amount of DLC characters (such as Nightwing and Robin) and bonus content tied to various pre-orders from companies like Best Buy that already exists.
I am simply one gamer in a set of circumstances that a majority of gamers likely do not find themselves in. PS3 and Wii owners have Internet built in. Most Xbox 360 gamers have the Xbox Live service. I do not at this time. Many gamers will likely buy Batman: Arkham City new. But for those gamers, like me, with limited cash and maybe even no Internet, this problem is simply unacceptable. As such, since Warner Bros. and Co. do not see fit to allow me 10% of the core experience on the disc and as part of my purchase, I demand a game that is 10% off in return. Seems only fair.
Below is the original trailer for the Catwoman content, now DLC.