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:

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.

Now, here’s the problem…problems, actually: Forge of Virtue and The Silver Seed, both released in 1992.

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.

6 Responses

  1. Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

    There’s far too much information these days for a lone mortal to adequately parse when writing an article drawing from recent history. You’d almost have to devote your life to the article to avoid such pitfalls, which is impractical. At first there were sequels, then sequels allowing the importation of some stats from previous games, then expansions requiring the original game, then DLC. But yes, ignorance is pervasive even when we try our best.

  2. Infinitron says:

    What was the first expansion pack ever? Wing Commander’s Secret Missions 1 is from 1990.

  3. Infinitron says:

    As for downloadable DLC, that’s harder to pin down, since the definitions can get murky. Neverwinter Nights premium modules were for sale way back in 2004. But were those really “DLC” or more like separate games?

    And of course you had free downloadable expansion packs long before that, like Icewind Dale’s Trials of the Luremaster and Wing Commander Prophecy’s Secret Ops. Do those count as free DLC?