Kotaku Miss The Point…By A Year
Kotaku published an article a little while back entitled “The Birth of DLC”. The centrepiece of the article was this little tidbit of history:
Game developers could create new characters, new weapons and new game scenarios for existing software and then sell them separately. ?93DEC
— wwwtxt (1988–94) (@wwwtxt) January 4, 2013
To which Kotaku adds:
wwwtxt is not a bot. It’s Daniel Rehn, an artist and “media archaeologist,” who culls discussions before 1995, the beginning of the commercial Internet as we know it. The sources include Usenet discussion groups, the early online services (like GEnie, CompuServe and Prodigy) and the like.
What’s amusing about this, which is 19 years old, according to Rehn, is how specific it is in describing what we’ve learned to live with today: “New weapons and new game scenarios.” It sounds like a great, wide-open way to extend the life of a good game and add value, doesn’t it? But I guess no one foresaw locked-on-the-disc DLC at the time, or DLC developed concurrently with the main product. Maybe Rehn can track down the first Internet complaint about DLC.
Both feature new characters.
Both feature new weapons (and/or other items).
Both feature new game scenarios for existing software.
And both were, at least back then, sold separately from the game they modified and expanded.
In short, both Forge of Virtue and The Silver Seed satisfy, on all points, the proposal from 1993 that Kotaku is so very excited about. And they did so a year earlier.
Granted, neither expansion was released as a downloadable package, but the quote in question doesn’t specify the exact distribution method by which these game expansions should be sold and disseminated. And Kotaku makes a very valid point about how the early pioneers of the idea — Origin Systems included! — likely didn’t intend for add-on content to include locked-out features in released games, or things to be developed concurrent with the main game and released at the same time (or only shortly thereafter).
Still…the historical illiteracy on display is kind of grating, and harms what could have been a much stronger article.