THQ Asks Players to Pay for DLC Before It's Even Out

Nathan Grayson

Used-game sales have been a particularly painful thorn in game publishers' sides (and wallets) for years now, so we can certainly understand why THQ would want to dig its fingernails in deep and yank them right out of existence. On the other hand, however, the publisher's plan to ask for even more of gamers' money up front might be the equivalent of poking and prodding the thorn until it goes in even deeper.

The program's making its debut in WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011, and asks players to hand over a flat sum of $9.99 in exchange for the promise of “select select downloadable content released throughout the life of the game for a one-time anticipated purchase." For now, they're calling it “Fan Axxess,” which caused our spellcheck to run to its room in tears and stop speaking to us.

So, why fork over your dough before the DLC's even finished cooking? Because, in the long run, this method's cheaper for you. For instance, the first DLC pack will go for 560 Microsoft Points (or $7.00) on its own, while the second one will lightly tickle your piggy bank to the tune of 240 Points ($3.00). With Fan Axxess, you'll pay $9.99 up front and get both once they release later this year and next year, respectively, on top of immediate access to all the game's unlockables and -- presumably -- more DLC in the future.

The implication, of course, is that this is only the beginning. Two DLC packs could hardly be called a “life,” so more is probably in the pipeline. A potential problem, however, climbs into the ring and clocks the ref with a steel chair if the game tanks and DLC development stops being worth THQ's while. Fortunately, for now it seems THQ's only sticking Smackdown vs. Raw's giant, steroid sponge of a neck out with this one – probably to gauge players' reactions before deciding whether or not to implement it into other titles.

So, the obvious question: Would you pay for “Fan Axxess” – assuming, of course, that it didn't have a name that made you want to hack THQ in two with an axe? In retrospect, we would've killed for something like this back when DLC-heavy games like Fallout 3 and Borderlands first launched. Of course, we're saying this now – after both games have already fulfilled all their DLC-related promises. What's your take?

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