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Bioshock 2: DLC Hullabaloo

I bet it's just a notepad file that says 'unlock dlc plz'

Fashionably late again… We managed to miss posting about this when the scandal hit last week, in one of those “oh, one of the others will surely cover it. Today I want to write about a happy thing!” confusions that sometimes afflicts the oft-scattered hivemind. It’s a major talking point, however, so you really should talk about it here. Y’know that Bioshock 2 DLC, the one with the new maps and characters and whatnot in? Apparently it was a whopping great 24 kilobyes big. Goodness, aren’t level designers economical these days?

Edit – I’m informed I’m wrong in believing the DLC in question contains maps. The 24k file unlocks character models, masks and achievements/trials to reflect the raised level cap you can pay for. The idea being that the people without the DLC can see the visual stuff that people who have bought the DLC have unlocked, without having to install a patch. I’ll leave it to you to decide if that’s any better.

The implication being, of course, that the so-called downloadable content was already in the game, and the publishers thought it was all fair and square to charge people extra to access it. It’s not even an implication, sadly – it’s the stone-cold truth.

2K have attempted to defend it by claiming it’s a matter of compatibility. Says their community manager/eternal problems-with-Bioshock-games apologist Elizabeth, “The way our engine and game structure works is that people need to have the exact same content for people to play together. One of the challenges with post launch content for MP is that it can split the player base, and we want to avoid that whenever possible. For this content, creating the DLC package the way we did allowed for us to not split the player base – so whether you purchase the new content or not, you can still play with your friends.”

Um. But… Right. Er. No. How does that mean it was impossible to release everything required as a downloadable package? And what happens if, heaven forfend, they decide to release some DLC that isn’t already on the disc? [Again, I said that in the erroneous belief the DLC contain maps rather than character model graphics – the statement makes more sense in light of this, but the debate about ownership rights remains valid.]

One thing’s for sure – whether or not Bioshock 2 DLC 2 (whatever it turns out to be) is already hidden on the disc somewhere, we’re bound to see a whacking great download for it to try and head a repeat of this furore off at the pass. Obviously we don’t know all the technical ins and outs of what’s gone on here, but it’s scarcely helping the DLC cause. It’s already a trend that’s seen by many as fleecing customers and artificially withholding finished content from games, and it’s hard, if potentially inaccurate, to see this little balls-up as anything other than a mercenary decision. Let’s hope it’s genuinely just a technical issue, and whatever their next DLC move is proves their noble intent in this regard.

24 kilobytes! Oh, come on. That’s not even enough for a replacement icon.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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