This is a tricky topic that always tends to ignite a few fires: what is considered acceptable when it comes to downloadable content released alongside a full retail game? Shouldn’t that content have been included in the game to begin with?
Unfortunately, it’s not an easy question to answer, as Peter Hines from Bethesda illustrates in a talk with OXM:
“I mean, certainly the reaction to it is pretty apparent,” Hines began. “I’m not sure if I have an exact opinion, because we’re not doing it. I try not to get into judging what other folks do, I certainly don’t appreciate them chiming in on what we should or shouldn’t be doing, particularly because, how would they know. I understand where it’s coming from.
“I think there is, at least among a certain segment of the gaming audience,” he went on. “I don’t think they quite understand the development process and the point at which you have to stop making the game and you have to finish the game. So, the content people stop making new content a fair amount of time before it ships; it’s not like in the old days when it was like the day before or a week before.”
Having lurked on NeoGAF for years (link withheld in the interest of good taste) I can definitely tell you that yes, most gamers have no idea what goes into game production. It’s true that some publishers intentionally hold back content to use as pre-order incentives, but in most cases, it’s just content that wasn’t suitable or able to be fit into the main game. Sometimes, it’s only developed near the end of the cycle, as Hines says, and serves as a good way to keep extra staff members employed and producing after their content is complete. There are a myriad different reasons why content is left out of games, and without being on that dev team, it’s hard to know for sure what the exact reasoning is.
It’s still a hard pill to swallow, knowing that your boxed copy of a game is “incomplete” as it’s “missing” some content. The game industry is still an industry, so expecting all DLC content for free with purchase isn’t entirely reasonable. There has to be a middle ground somewhere that keeps everybody happy, and I’m confident we’ll find it in time.