Where does a Video Game end and DLC begin?

The plight of the Gamer. Gamers in today's world enjoy a much more robust gaming experience compared to generations past. However enjoying killer graphics, mass multiplayer, and stunning open worlds now comes at a higher price, literally. We must now first endure a never ending cycle of updates, DLC, DRM, and other such nonsense just to PLAY the game you own. Gone are the days of simply unwrapping your new game, popping it into your console and pressing power.

Last week I purchased Mass Effect 3 for only $30us from an Amazon 1 day sale. Pretty sweet deal right? (Don't tell me the ending.) I popped it into my Xbox and it took me 45 minutes just to start playing the damn thing. In that time, I could have ranked up at least twice in C.O.D.

I open up the box and there I find an "Activation Code", which is long convoluted set of numbers and letters that give you access to the game...you just bought. This code is a bitch to enter in too, especially if you don't have a keyboard. After messing up several times I wondered if THIS WAS the game! After finally hurdling that obstacle the system decides it must log into Electronic Arts (EA) servers to verify the code is valid. Ya know, it case a terrorist got his hands on a false code and decided to troll Americans.

Then it doesn't ask me, but demands I create an account for EA membership. I don't want to sign up but they got me by the electronic balls. Another round of filling out digital paperwork with a gaming controller. Then I wait some more. Yes, it's done, now to start my adventure...No...wait... it has to download the updates. Updates? Shouldn't everything I need come in the box? I don't think the CIA has this much trouble getting into their own systems. Why am I'm jumping through so many spy hoops?

What if I had a game console but no internet connection? What then? After all an internet connection costs money and not everyone can afford one. Do I assume then, that even if I'm not interested in any multiplayer features that I still cannot play the single campaign without a connection? Mass Effect does indeed have a single player mode so technically why do I need to log in at all?

The game by some miracle finally starts up. By this point I'm already exhausted but press on anyway, pun intended. I notice on the menu that their is an option for "Downloadable Content." I thought I just downloaded all the downloadable content. I thought wrong. I click on the option and it shifts me into the Xbox Market place where I may purchase more senseless things. Mass Effect Virtual hats, T-Shirts, upgrades etc. Wait a minute, so none of this stuff is included? Didn't we give Microsoft good money to be Xbox Live members? Are you seriously going to nickel and dime us for a fake digital Mass Effect 3 Beach Ball that doesn't physically exists in the real world!

This trend is not only confined to consoles. Mobile gaming publishers have picked up a few bad habits as well. Recently I purchased a gamed called, "Pinbal HD", awesome game. Yet when I opened the app for the first time, I discovered that it has 3 playable boards and 2 UN-playable boards. You need to purchase them to play them.  Didn't I just pay for this freakin Pinball game! If I was your surgeon would you want me to transplant "most" of your kidney, wait till I opened you up and then asked whether or not you want to in-body purchase the rest?

As if that weren't enough, they now have split games into several categories. You can purchase a game for $60 sure, but if you want the 'Collector's Edition", well that's going to cost you $90. Wait, if you want the Extended Master Collectors' Special Edition with Super Dooper Boost then that will set you back at least $120.

Every year it seems that the industry is asking more and more from it's loyal players. You have to wonder with all this "Downloadable Content", are companies holding back chunks of the game and making you pay for the rest of it later? If I decide to buy Max Payne 3, am I only getting half the actual game if I don't purchase any "extras"? I no longer feel like I own my games, I feel like I'm renting them.

Seems like it's us gamers who are getting played.