I’ve been watching the presentations at E3, and reading many articles about the new product launches. Typically, this is a very exciting time for gamers, especially console gamers. Sadly, thought PC technology is always cutting edge compared to consoles, PC gamers get very little love at E3. Sure, PC games are announced, but usually only because they have a console counterpart.

I don’t mind the PC treatment at E3 as much as I’m bothered by where gaming in general seems to be headed. I’m not sure if you noticed, but a lot of DLC was announced, for games that were also just announced.

Do you remember when a game would be released, and then, over time, a few incremental updates would come out (usually bug fixes), and then we’d get a big expansion pack? Ah, those were the days. Recently, the concept of the expansion pack evolved into downloadable content, or DLC. DLC is a smaller content expansion, which ideally costs less than a full expansion pack. This idea was pitched to consumers as a solution for the long wait between the main game and the expansion. DLC packs are smaller updates, more frequently.

At E3 this week, it became painfully obvious that DLC has become more of a solution to a developer/publisher problem rather than a consumer problem. Instead of DLC filling the void between major releases, it’s now being developed and released simultaneously with the game itself. This is called “zero-day” DLC. It’s a way to sell a game for $60, but actually score $70 from the consumer. Clearly, if you have the content ready at launch, why not just include it in the game? If necessary, increase the price of the game. At least then you’ll be honest.

And since I’m an equal-opportunity gripist, permit me a moment to complain about free zero-day DLC. Yes, it’s wonderful that I don’t have to pay for the DLC, thus negating my previous paragraph. But would it really have been so hard to include it in the actual game instead of making me jump through hoops to get it? You decide you’re own development schedule, you know. You could totally get this content into the game before you send it to the disc foundries or whatever they’re called. For some reason, you’ve chosen to release this content in a way that mildly annoys me, and punishes those few gamers who have no Internet connection.

Sadly, this trend of zero-day DLC started a few years ago, but I’d hoped it wouldn’t stick. Now it’s clear that this will be the way of things for years to come.

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