BioShock Infinite DLC: Why the delayed release is to Irrational’s credit

Irrational’s BioShock Infinite was released at the end of March and has been confounding people ever since. How come Booker turned into a baby at the end?* Who would have guessed that the Lutece twins built Rapture?** And where the heck is that ‘Season Pass’ DLC anyway?

Said Season Pass was (of course) available as a pre-order and is still on sale today through places like Steam for $20.00 USD. It rather nebulously offers “three add-ons” plus a ‘Day one’ pack containing virtual upgrades, weapon skins and a handful of infusions. The add-ons will feature “More Stories, More Weapons, More Characters” and “extend the narrative.” That’s about all we know.

BioShock Infinite
Speculation #1: In the BioShock Infinite DLC, you will play as a disgruntled poster-maker who just wants to make concert ads instead of racist propaganda.

So far, there’s been no sign of anything beyond the upgrade pack. No screenshots, no hints at what (or who) the DLC may focus on and no release dates. Irrational’s Ken Levine says they’re working on the first add-on though, and there’s due to be word about it at the end of July.

Whether by design, or forced into it by the ever-shifting release schedule of the main game, the studio decided to only start work on the DLC after the title was finished and shipped. That’s why it’s taking so long, and why we know so little about any of it. Nobody did anything until BioShock Infinite was out of the door. Sure, they probably exchanged ideas and figured out what the add-ons would be, but they only began work on them in late March.

And you know what? That’s bloody brilliant. It’s fantastic. Irrational Games should be lauded to the very skies of Columbia for handling the DLC this way, because it’s the way most game buyers have always wanted it.

BioShock Infinite
Speculation #2: You’ll play as the ghost of a hot-dog salesman and have to hug all the angel statues in order to come back to life.

That is what most of us want, isn’t it? DLC that is very clearly being made after the main game.

Too often there are fears that portions are being chopped and trimmed from the main title in order to turn them into marketable extras. Definitive proof is always hard to come by (except in cases where a developer screws up and sticks the DLC on the disc, to be unlocked with a downloadable code,) so it mostly becomes a matter of trust. Do you trust that the developer or publisher is true to their word when they say nothing has been cut for sale at a later date?

It’s always plausible that part of a development team has worked concurrently on some DLC to keep them busy while the rest of the studio completes the game (as is often cited in defence.) But it’s also pretty believable that publisher/retailer/financial pressures encourage studios to slice bits out of the game and hold them over as DLC. In each individual case, it’s very difficult to be sure what the truth is.

BioShock Infinite has avoided all of that doubt and intrigue. We know precisely what the deal is.

BioShock Infinite
Speculation #3: You’ll literally play as this beach. Attempt to get sand in as many butt cracks as possible.

The only sky-hook in the works is this ‘Season Pass’ business. 2K and Irrational were fairly up front about the expected wait. The Steam page for the purchase notes that “All Season Pass content will be available for individual purchase by March 2014,” but it says this in small text near the bottom.

That timeline does at least seem somewhat realistic. Assuming the first add-on comes out relatively soon, that gives Irrational another six or seven months to get a couple more out there. But anyone who purchased this Pass in March (or even earlier) can be forgiven for getting a little antsy about the wait. The impatience is probably coming from a mixture of genuine eagerness to play more Infinite, and concern for where their Season Pass money went. Both sentiments are entirely reasonable.

The problem there is not Irrational’s decision to hold off work on DLC until Infinite was done, but the (presumed) pressure of having to sell a Season Pass in the first place.

These never seem like a good idea. Like pre-orders for games, anyone buying is taking a massive gamble on some sight-unseen goods in return for … not a lot, really. Maybe some virtual trinkets. Perhaps a slight discount. A discount that will be worthless if, in the end, you only enjoy about half of what you bought.

BioShock Infinite
Speculation #4: You’ll play as a retailer of motorized patriots who has to ignite a war in order to meet your annual sales quota and net that big promotion.

If we’re going to pile on Irrational for anything, it should be the slapdash way they handled the ‘stuttering bug’ on PC. The latest (and fourth) patch appears to have fixed the problem for the majority, but it took months to reach even that point.

That lack of technical support was a huge disappointment, but the DLC wait is a consequence of a developer who’s actually dealing with add-ons in the best possible way. For once, we can be sure that none of the upcoming expansions were crudely snipped out of BioShock Infinite at the last minute. That’s not something to be taken for granted with a contemporary big-budget release.

Things could’ve been even better without the distraction of a Season Pass making people impatient, but the one thing Irrational cannot be accused of is undermining its main release in the name of DLC. Let’s give them the time they need to finish it.

*Fake spoiler, please don’t yell at me.

**This one is totally real though. Unless it isn’t.

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    • dakan45

      “Too often there are fears that portions are being chopped and trimmed from the main title in order to turn them into marketable extras. ”

      and never before has something like what happened with bioshock infinite has happened. E3 2009, nothing is in the game, nor the locations, nor the narrative, nor the gameplay mchanics. E3 2011 same case. The game is vastly inferior from what you saw there.

      Still it doesnt matter if that is fake marketing “WINNER OF OVER 80 AWARDS” proudly appears on the box despite that nothing of what you saw was in the actual game.

      So you happy for dlc eh? What for? More weapons? The combat of bioshock infinite was mediocre, you played the game for the story not the gameplay. The gameplay was pretty much the same, go to arena shaped area, kill samey enemies, borring money grinding by bashing the use button on furnitue. Repeat, repeat and repeat till the game is long enouugh to justify full price, there you go.

      Thats what the dlc will be, more crap combat that you have to suffer to get to the story bits. Lets all thanks irrational for providing us with a useless dlc with garbage combat and grinding on money, if i wanted that, id play borderlands.

      • DaikonRadish

        How you deem the cut content to be superior is beyond me, considering that you never got the chance to play it. Good job at demonstrating pretension at it’s finest.

      • johnnyboy

        you sir are an idiot. now please shut up, nobody cares about your opinion

      • Avery123Avery

        Please tell me what you were expecting from Infinite, it seems your new to this whole gaming thing, because almost every game you pick up has very similar gameplay throughout with reoccurring similar enemies, and the reason people are antsy for DLC is because they enjoyed the game would like more of it, “common sense”

      • AITH

        Very well said. Glad I’m not the only one not drinking the kool-aid

    • krypt

      it’s great they shipped the game complete but they are taking way too long on dlc as me and every one i know who had the game traded it in and we bought the season pass 🙁 It was a great game but in order to keep that disc in the tray u need a dlc plan like battlefield 3 ..

      • bigevilworldwide

        You do grasp the concept that ALL games are shipped complete right….Not sure why some less brighter citizens can’t grasp that, or the fact that it takes months to certify the game and even then once you get it back it’s right back out to be printed. You can’t add anything to it without sending it back for re-certification otherwise…Millions of copies don’t just materialize day one so that takes even more time to print disc, manuals(if there is one) box art…..

        Again that is months of developers sitting around waiting for the release of said game. There isn’t a damn thing wrong with working on DLC in that time frame. Nothing! I would rather have a developer actually supporting their game by making DLC while this process goes on that wait till after that game releases to make DLC…..Again you cannot add things to the game that has been certified so YES it is a complete game that ships regardless of a developer deciding to use that 6 months to create some content to sell along with the game…..

        It also helps to avoid times like this where it’s probably pointless now to even make DLC amazing game or not probably 85% have sold it, and aren’t going to rush out to get 1 DLC pack…Hence why you need to be quick about it as people will generally beat the game hang onto it for a month or 2 and then trade it

        • Scrow

          By “shipped complete” he means “they didn’t chop out part of the game, leaving it on the disc to be sold as ‘new content’ once the game launches.”

          Apparently you’re one of those “less brighter citizens” you mentioned.

      • Shappy0211

        People don’t seem to understand the amount of time and money that goes into Games Development. Honestly, if you’re impatient and can’t be bothered to wait for the DLC to come out then why keep moaning about it. Me personally, I’d rather wait that little longer for the DLC to be completed properly before it’s released, rather then it be rushed and then it’s gonna be rubbish and you’re not going to enjoy it half as much, so if you wait for the DLC to be developed properly, and stop moaning about it not coming out yet, then you’re gonna enjoy it more when it comes out.

        And regarding the point you’ve made about it being pointless to make the DLC now, why is it pointless? Cos I’m pretty sure there won’t be 85% of people who bought the game who are gonna complete it and then just sell it. Everyone’s different so there won’t be that many people who will have sold it after just completing it, and the people who did probably just don’t even understand the story of Bioshock Infinite as a whole. It’s a great story and I don’t mind waiting that little longer for the DLC to come out, cos as I said I’d like to wait for it to be competed properly so I’ll enjoy it more.

        And the fact that some people have paid for the Season Pass and then got rid of the game, then more fool you. If you’re gonna sell or trade in the game then why spend money on buying the Season Pass in the first place? You’re just wasting your money by doing that, so that isn’t the developers fault for taking too long with the DLC, it’s your fault for being too impatient.

      • Some Dude

        There is a pretty tremendous difference between making DLC content for Battlefield 3 and making it for a game like Bioshock Infinite… If they had released it earlier it would be because they felt rushed by all these impatient kids who know nothing about this whining about it and it would result in a crappy DLC. Which I would not be happy having spent 20$ on. Trading in a game you still had already spent money on for guaranteed future content was kind of a stupid idea… I agree that they’re d-bags for not being more vocal about it, but the process of creating actual story driven gameplay takes a whole hell of a lot longer than making a few multiplayer maps.

    • Erik Mathews

      The DLC is being revealed near the end of the month (conformed), and I’m assuming it’ll come out shortly after that.

    • Shep

      To bigevilworldwide, some games are very obvious with the holes left for “DLC.” Fable 3 had spaces missing on the dye shelves that would only be filled with DLC bottles of color that really should’ve been there in the first place, along with extra hair and dog breeds. Prototype 2 had DLC packs that basically functioned as cheat codes. Activate the content and you can’t progress through the game anymore. Remember the good old days when you could cheat in a game with a few button presses? SOME DLC is completely stupid.
      However I can’t wait for what’s next in Infinite. Bought a season pass along with my game and I don’t even care that its been just 3 months. The game took 3 years to come out. A few months for DLC is completely acceptable.

    • Tim McDonald

      Peter, you’d been reading Peter Molydeux’s stuff before writing those captions, hadn’t you?

      • Peter Parrish


    • sfbk

      there’s something called a spoiler alert, asshole

    • darren

      i bought my first ever season pass for borderlands 2 and its been amazing, great content within weeks of finishing the game. it was great timing. I bought the season pass for Bioshock Infinite the day i got it, but have been disappionted with the time its taking. if id have known it would take four months plus i would have waited. i could have sold the game for a good price and got something else in the meantime. But I do commend the game maker for putting the effort into it. I will keep the game and wait for my DLC, but will think twice before buying a season pass so quick. For my money, 2K and the Borderlands 2 DLC content and speed of release has set the benchmark. I just hope the Bioshock DLC lives up to expectations. Amazing game. Cant wait for the DLC.

    • hghghg

      don’t search for info about DLC about a game you havent even finished yet. dont get mad about hearing any sort of spoiler if you are doing the a fore mentioned. common sense. dont be rude to justify your bad choices.

    • bioboost

      How did he turn into a baby again?
      totally forgot about that unless you’re talking about baby beth in wich case you are very wrong

    • Will

      Sure I would appreciate them not rushing out DLC, if I hadn’t forked over an extra $20 at launch, I usually don’t buy season passes but since I was so excited for this game and Gamestop practically shoved it down your throat I said what the hell and bought it but since then I have gotten absolutely nothing out of it, I hate Day 1 DLC but at the same time selling a Season pass for 1/3 the price of the actual game and then offering nothing for months is even worse.

    • Ris

      I have to point out that for the $20 I spent on DLC on release day, I already got a few dollars worth of stuff.
      First there was the day 1 dlc stuff for ingame, which wasn’t necessary but nice in it’s own way. And then there was the fact that with the game and dlc, gamestop gave me the strategy guide for free. I know most people don’t go for guides, but hey, it was FREE.
      Maybe the DLC is taking a bit longer than expected, but in the end I’ll have not only a great game (in the premium edition), but probably half again as much extra story in the DLC, AND a guidebook.

      For $80 this seems like a pretty decent deal. I’ve spent almost as much on things that in the end turned out to be absolute shit.