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I originally wrote this article a few weeks ago, but decided to put it up on Gamespot just now, which is why it is out of place. However, the core of the article is still relevant. Enjoy
With the recent news that the upcoming latest instalment in the long-running Resident Evil franchise, Resident Evil 6 (a horror/action third-person shooter set in an ongoing zombie apocalypse), will be getting "Time-exclusive" DLC I felt that I could no longer contain my festering rage at the greatest middle-finger to gamers by game distributors and console parent companies since the Xbox Wi-Fi-adapter. Under the current agreement between Capcom and Microsoft, Resident Evil 6's DLC packs will be released exclusively on the Xbox 360 for an as-of-print unspecified period of time. All three packs contain Multiplayer and co-operative content in some form, using maps from Mercenary mode (an arena-like game type that pits the player in an enclosed level with an infinite number of enemies and mini-bosses, whilst restricted by a timer that can be increased by collecting one of a small number of tokens scattered throughout the level).
Now you might be thinking 'so what? It's just multiplayer content. Resident Evil is all about the single-player experience'. That's certainly a valid opinion. Resident Evil 6 is fundamentally designed to be a co-operative experience, with each of the four campaigns allowing you to play with a friend, as well as accommodating those unburdened by friends by including an AI-controlled partner. The natural progression of such a framework is Multiplayer, where you and your friend, encouraged by your recent victory over the zombie-outbreak, can jump into the online arena to challenge others.
There are three main reasons why Time-exclusive DLC exists:
The first is that for those who own both an Xbox 360 and a Playstation 3, having the DLC exclusive to Microsoft's console makes choosing which console to buy Resident Evil 6 on that much easier.
I've read this argument all over the internet, and I must say, I think it's crap. Just how many people own both consoles?
On June 6, 2012, the ESA (The Entertainment Software Association) released a study which says that 49% of households [in America] have a games console, with an average of two per household.
"A-HUH!" you say.
Not so fast, I reply.
According to the ESA, the term 'Games Console' incorporates not only your run-of-the-mill Playstation 3s, Xbox 360s and Wiis, but also Hand-held consoles (DS, DSi, PSP, PSVITA), old consoles (Nintendo 64, Playstation 1, Xbox, Commodore 64, Sega Megadrive etc. etc.), and smartphones and tablets (iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy tablets and phones, etc. etc.). In the United States it is estimated that there are close to 224 Million Personal Computers. That's already 'one games console'. 46% of Americans own a Smartphone. That's a second 'console'. The notion that a majority, or even a large percentage of households, or 'gamers', own both leading consoles is ridiculous. Yes, there are a spoiled few who do, and so have the benefit of choice. However the idea that a large, profit-based company like Microsoft would spend millions securing exclusive DLC to further incentivise the small number of people who own both consoles is similarly ridiculous.
Now the second reason.
Full disclosure: I own a Playstation 3. I like it (love is far too strong a word to use on an inanimate object). It has a good games library, and decent bevvy of exclusive titles. It plays blu-rays and streams music and video from my desktop. An Xbox 360 does many of these things too, but where it falls down is in its exclusives catalogue.
Off the top of my head, Sony has: inFamous (2 titles), God of War (3, and soon 4 titles), Uncharted (3 titles), Heavy Rain, Gran Turismo, and the upcoming The Last of Us.
Microsoft has Gears of War (the first is available on PC), Forza, Halo (the first 2 are available on PC) and...Uh...Viva Piņata.
Yes both have more than just what I've listed, but be honest, those are the only ones your average Joe will remember. In terms of IP quality, Sony rules the waves. And that's why Microsoft must do all it can to cover up its glaring deficiencies; not only can they claim to be the home of Halo and Gears of War, but also of DLC. Its a cheap and quick solution to a deeper problem: Microsoft is more concerned about profits than fostering creativity and innovation.
In a recent interview, Heavy Rain director David Cage praised Sony because Quantic Dream, the developer of the widely acclaimed Heavy Rain, was never asked for "Heavy Rain 2". And this isn't a unique situation. Team Ico, the developer from critically-acclaimed games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, has been working on its latest game, The Last Guardian, for the better part of 8 years; Thatgamescompany's hit Journey was developed in 3 years rather than the expected 1 year. Sony is well known for allowing their in-house developers an abundance of freedom.
Microsoft, on the other hand, created an entirely new company, 343 Industries, to nurse the elderly cash-cow that is the Halo franchise after the original developer, Bungie, left to pursue other IPs. And with this current generation of consoles reaching their end, this problem is set to grow. Need more proof? Ok. How about Microsoft paying enormous amounts to have previously Playstation-exclusive franchises Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Solid brought to the Xbox 360 in the form of HD re-releases (DMC HD Trilogy, MGS HD Trilogy) and future instalments (upcoming DMC and Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengeance)? Previously Sony-exclusive (in terms of main entries) like Final Fantasy (Final Fantasy XIII was brought to the Xbox 360) and now Resident Evil (Resident Evil 5 was the first multi-console entry to the franchise since the first Resident Evil was brought from Nintendo to the PS1).
Resident Evil 6 isn't the first game for which Microsoft has secured exclusive DLC, timed or otherwise. Earlier this year gamers were sucker-punched with the news that the Bethesda's highly anticipated RPG The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim would release DLC, all of which would be available exclusively on the Xbox 360 for a period of one month. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on the Xbox 360 had 30 day exclusivity on its Multiplayer DLC. Its sequel, Modern Warfare 3, and the combined Online Service, Call of Duty Elite, are all available one month ahead of the release on the PSN and Steam stores.
I have no problem with small DLC packs being exclusive. An example is Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. Its DLC packs were simply unlockable characters and skins, with certain characters being exclusive to certain consoles. Firstly, this kind of distribution discriminates equally. Each console gets something that the other doesn't. Secondly, and more importantly, it doesn't detract from the actual game. There were no missing missions, or boss fights, or game modes, or map packs.
The final reason is of the almost forgivable nature.
In recent years, many game developers and publishers, of which Capcom is one, have been struggling financially. Its understandable that they want to bring their games to a wider audience (i.e. bringing Final Fantasy and Resident Evil to the Xbox 360), and its similarly understandable that they would accept the large 'donations' by games companies in exchange for exclusive DLC. However, a similar course of action would be to STOP DEVELOPING WEIRD-ASS GAMES THAT CATER TO A NICHE MARKET. I'm looking at you Dead or Alive and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (The same game as regular Marvel vs. Capcom 3, with some balance tweaks, a few new moves and a handful of new characters, all easily distributed via DLC or, oh I don't know, a patch!).
Why Timed-Exclusives Suck
I have two very big problems with time-exclusive DLC.
The first is that it messes with development. To date the only example of this I can provide is Skyrim, but its a very important example. When it was announced that Xbox 360 players would receive Skyrim DLC 30 days before Playstation 3 owners I was a little miffed. Skyrim is a fantastic game, and I was really looking forward to playing the DLC. The thought that the DLC was sitting there, waiting for me to play it on my Playstation 3 was driving me crazy. I had to wait a whole month. Not because it was still in development. Or that it was being made better than the Xbox version. It was just waiting, ready. Oh how foolish I felt... You see, when Skyrim was released on the Playstation 3 it was met with a great deal of criticism. There were abundant bugs and glitches, exclusive to Sony's console. Some made the ground look a little different, others crashed your game on startup and forced you to uninstall the game in its entirety and start from scratch. It was clear to everyone that the game's developer had preferred Microsoft's console, and that the Playstation 3 had gotten sloppy, poorly coded seconds. The argument that the Playstation 3's software is so hard to work with is, quite frankly, crap.
Please feel free to compare, technically, Sony's Uncharted and Microsoft's Halo. In fact, feel free to compare Uncharted with anything. You won't find any game, exclusive or otherwise, on Microsoft's console that will compare. It's simply a fallacy to say that the Playstation 3 is not developer-friendly. But I digress. Skyrim's first DLC, Dawguard, followed the same course as the game itself. To this day, Bethesda claims that they are 'unable' to get Dawnguard running on the Playstation 3, and that they won't release it until they are 'happy' with the final product. IGN, among others, have even speculated that Skyrim's DLC may never come to the Playstation 3. But for Microsoft's purchase of exclusivity, I believe that the development of the DLC for the Playstation 3 would have progressed much further, and I would quite possibly be slaying vampires from my horse with a cross-bow instead of writing this blog.
The second reason, and basically the crux of the diatribe, is that time-exclusive DLC is a huge **** you" from developers to gamers. With games like Skyrim and Call of Duty, where previous entries in the series have all been released across all platforms, exclusive DLC is a middle-finger to owners of the affected console. When asked about exclusive DLC, Microsoft has maintained the company line that they do it because they 'care' about their gamers. Please, someone tell me how making content exclusive to the Xbox 360 enhances their experience, how denying content to a Playstation 3 owner allows an Xbox 360 player to have more fun. Does the fact that millions of African's are starving to death make your hamburger taste better?
Even worse, however, is having the exclusivity reversed. And before you call me a hypocrite, let me finish. Resident Evil 4 was originally release exclusively on the Gamecube. Realising the potential for profit, Capcom ported the game to the Playstation 2, where the game quickly made a name for itself as a quality game on the PS2's line-up. Similarly an originally Nintendo franchise, Final Fantasy became a worldwide phenomenon on Sony's Playstation 1 and 2. The reason I mention these 2 franchises is because, come the current console generation, gamers deciding on which console to buy, the Xbox 360 or the infinitely more expensive Playstation 3, a large portion of the decision was based on what games they could expect to play. If you had suggested to me back in 2005 that I would be playing Final Fantasy or Resident Evil on an Xbox 360 I'd have laughed you into the ground. But alas, we live in a global economy, and money is the order of the day. Now we have both franchises on both consoles (Resident Evil 5, Final Fantasy XIII, XIII-2), which I have no problem with. Now more people can access and enjoy two of the great franchises that made the Playstation 3 so popular. What I have a problem with is developers like Capcom taking a once-exclusive franchise like Resident Evil to the Xbox 360 and, in the process, flipping-off Playstation 3 gamers - the very people responsible for making the franchise as popular as it is today (and lets face it, Paul W.S Anderson's films aren't doing Capcom any favours) - and for what?
Money. Its the root of all (Resident) Evil.
Capcom, the struggling (Worldwide, they're solid in Japan) developer have sold out their loyal fans for a Microsoft 'donation'. Its that simple, and Its that crap.
Thanks for reading,
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