It may not surprise you all that I very rarely download DLC for the sakes of owning it. Don’t get me wrong, I own DLC for games, and I’m more than willing to pay for it, so long as it’s priced as reasonably as possible, and that I find it useful and enjoyable for me. The most recent actual-DLC I bought was Don’t Starve’s Reign Of Giants DLC, which I bought at the Steam Winter Sales, along with the base game and Don’t Starve Together Beta. I bought it also because, even with the DLC included, the Don’t Starve Mega Pack was £13.50. This was a good deal. An oversight by Klei however made it cheaper to buy the Don’t Starve Frontier pack (Don’t Starve + DST-ß + an extra copy for a friend), and then buy the DLC, which was 99p, separately, saving about a quid on my part.
My point being is that downloadable content shouldn’t be part of the game when you start selling it. Essentially what they’re doing is shipping the content the developer and publisher intentionally calls “DLC” and keep it in a separate folder on the disk, and when it does become available to the public, it’s put behind a paywall. This is On-Disk DLC. I personally call this a “Content Paywall”, very similar to Day One DLC, except released later on. It’s exactly what the practice describes.
So what about that certain fighter series made by HAL Labs & Nintendo? Y’know the one. Specifically the 3DS edition. Well, Smash 3DS is a bit of an enigma, wrapped up in mystery, that only the most prevalent hackers know how the game works. Sakurai himself stated back in 2014 that DLC may come to both Smash 3DS & Wii U, all depending on sales of the Mewtwo DLC, and if the demand for it is there among fans (who wouldn’t want Roy from Melee or Ryu from Street Fighters in Smash?) Sakurai called it an “Experiment”, not an investment opportunity.
While there was intent for DLC, neither Smash 3DS or Wii U had Downloadable Content within it’s cartridge/ disk’s internal files. In fact, the only files related to DLC in the game files of either version at launch, were 2 sets of 2 buttons for character and stage selection respectively (which ended up being never used outside of the Smash Direct Preview). This alone isn’t On-Disk/ On-Cart DLC. This is compatibility for Potential DLC. True to his word, it was in the files as an optional extra. The Cutting Room Floor Wiki Pages (a website dedicated in uncovering unused content in games) for both Smash 3DS and Smash Wii U, support this argument.
When the game got updates however, that’s where things got shady. With the exception of a few updates, most other updates to both versions’ of the game add voice files, stages and characters, all which are eventually placed behind a Paywall. Hence; “Content Paywall”.
Props to Nintendo in advance for calling it AOC (Additional Online Content), rather than DLC (DownLoadable Content), as that’s actually more accurate in what you’re doing; Downloading a “Key” to unlock the content already inside the game. I can’t speak for the Wii U version of Smash, but this sort-of makes Smash 3DS’s On-Cart AOC a bit more acceptable. I’d rather download the content via eshop in the update itself & “unlock it” by paying an (not too unreasonable) amount of cash, in contrast to Downloading the content on my already-sluggish old 3DS via the Smash 3DS AOC Store, or when I need to join a match who are playing as AOC characters. No other publisher I know of calls on-disk/ on-cart Downloadable Content a more accurate name, except Nintendo with the aformentioned AOC. I can, of course, be wrong.
Mobile games do what Smash 3DS is already doing, and so does Steel Diver: Sub Wars. And the extra content in SD: SW is only 79p per sub. Not bad at all for a Free-To-Play. Paying for the content already in the game and calling it DLC, when it requires no downloading of said content whatsoever needs to stop.
Admittedly, it still annoys me that content is behind the paywall, but, at least for the 3DS version, it’s understandable. I’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again; I’d rather play against those with AOC and regulars when I know the characters are behind a paywall, rather than “Temporarily download fighters & Stages” every sodding time I start a new Online session. Convenience beats Gaming Ethics. Rock beats Scissors. TXTSPK beats words.