On Disc DLC is OK to Me

Gamers are getting their panties in a bunch because of on disc DLC.

One word: Modchip.

This nominally goes back to the “protected content only screws legit consumers” vibe that the PC market has had since forever. In a lot of ways, the vibe has been PC only. The most recent example is the Diablo 3 news. Quite simply put: you can’t play diablo 3 except online. It’s not like it authenticates and disconnects, it wants you to always┬áplay online 100% of the time. Cracks are already out there to “fix” the game, but of course they’re illegal. More on the point the people who want to stay legit get screwed. I can’t play the game in the 45 minutes I’m on the train. I can’t play the game at the office when I’m in weird hours. I can’t play the game at the local burger joint while my kids terrorise the playground.

How does this relate to DLC?

Well it’s sort of an interesting thing, capcom is re-evaluating the on-disc DLC policy. Why?

Is it because they want to pay microsoft $10k to get a download posted? No…

Is it because they’re pulling a DICE and putting out their patches in DLC to avoid certification? No…

It’s because they realized if the pirates have the DLC on the disk, they can play the content. Yup, you read that article right. A fighting game with the content (key) not even released yet saw people using the content on xbox live.

It has nothing to do with consumer outrage and everything to do with squeezing every last dollar out of your wallet.

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Settlers of Catan for XBox Live

If you’ve got an XBOX 360 this is probably a post for you.

Bad Company 2 – I haven’t tried onslaught mode. Jon says it’s good but with the AI being lackluster at times it’s tough to pay $10 for it when it’s just Gears of War 2’s squad camp mode. The new maps (which are really old maps shoved into a new mode) are terrible. OK it’s sort of cool to have new vehicles but if you put them on a crap map the entire experinece is soured. The rebalanced weapons patch means that the shotguns are grossly overpowered since a lot of guns now do a lot less damage. Since the shotgun shoots 8 “bullets” and only one bullet to the head kills a player, shotgun sniping goes back to being a valid tactic.

UNO on XBOX Live – Dropping you into a game sort of sucks since a lot of players who know they’re going to lose simply drop out. The pauses while someone drops in or out are stupidly long. People tend to put the controller down. People with a headset tend to talk about being high, a ghost in the room unseen by others named “mom”, or AVATAR THE LAST AIRBENDER. Strategy is almost nonexistent. I’ve lost a few simply because someone feels some overwhelming need to play a draw 2 on you which means you can’t possibly play your draw 2 on the guy who called uno. The AI is marginal at best even set to hard and will not fill in more than half the seats. I swear to god the desk isn’t random.

Catan on XBOX Live – My wife hates economy games while I love them. If you’ve played Ticket To Ride, that’s Catan Lite. It’s well worth leaning to play. Catan reminds me of monopoly without the four and a half hour long time commitment. (What would fix monopoly would be having a quarter of the properties on the board). I know you can play Catan online for free. Frankly they should make economy games required playing in school because no-one seems to know how money works anymore. Anyway, Catan is worth the $10 because the online players tend not to suck on the whole, but the AI also can give you a real run for the money. The “roundhouse strategy” (build a ring of settlements around the middle tile) gets far too much play online and I’ve seen people drop out simply because they didn’t get a complete ring. Note that you can use this strategy to effect a monopoly on resources, but a lot of people don’t use or want to use the counter strategy of buying the soldiers to move the robber. On the other hand if you get the center ring, no-one else can get that middle tile. If you don’t ring it out, other people can lock down their part of the board. Strategy aside, the AI is damn good and they give you a stats tracker at the end of the game showing the dice rolls and everything else. It’s enough to make sure you feel like you got a fair shake on the deck and dice.

EA’s Online Pass

The long and the short of it: EA is playing games with content in terms of the “online pass”. For Battlefield 2, it was a few maps and the VIP Pass would get you them. Don’t have a pass? Pay up $12 and you can get the maps. Preorders also came with perks unlocked for high level players. There’s two problems I see with this system. One being that it’s not uncommon to have multiple gamer tags on an XBOX. I know my wife keeps one and I keep one. We got fed up with the permissions being different and this gamertag having something that the other gamer tag didn’t, so my wife doesn’t user her tag anymore. The net result is that MS loses their $50 a year. But, this was only for netflix or whatever, it never was really codified for games. Now there’s stories of people saying that they’re unhappy that two gamertags on the xbox have access to different content. Now as a parent, if my two kids wanted to play xbox and I either had to pony up $12 or save $50/year for a gold gamertag, it only makes sense to drop the one subscription. And, since a lot of the XBOX games don’t play with two people split screen against random strangers on XBox Live, it’s not like the lack of a second gamertag puts a dent in anyones gaming.

However, the vague threat of letting $50 subscriptions keel over a year later doesn’t really impress Microsoft – where I see the push against this coming from are services like NetFlix and GameFly and even the MS Games on Demand service. The games on demand service in particular doesn’t give you anything – even a manual. How are people supposed to get the codes? What happens when the game is $5 and the code is $12? Or for gamefly and netflix, does EA think people are really going to pay money to play online? Probably not. More on the point if I were gamefly, I would probably be suing EA for anticompetitive practises.

XBOX 360 WiFi

After the disaster that was the first attempt at XBOX 360 wifi (protip – 802.11N isn’t a standard yet), I decided to look for alternatives. Paying $60 for a glorified USB-bridge wasn’t my cup of tea because routers themselves are cheaper. Plus I have a Wii and everyone knows the encryption support is a joke.

Turns out there’s a ton of people who felt the same way, and they wrote documentation.

So, why do this when “official” MS adaptors are out there? Because the official support sucks. The Wii has to use crap encryption, you can’t hide your SID, etc. The XBOX 360 adaptor won’t even work in the next rev (although you can get an original XBOX wifi adaptor working if you can find it). Also maybe I want a tivo, how do I wifi that? The solution is to buy a supported device (as silly as it sounds, “supported” only indicates “it works”).

Or, for the same price, you could just buy this from Amazon and not be a total geek.