Such are the vagaries of clean living. EA's upcoming game, The Saboteur offers free in-game nudity via downloadable add-on — even interrupts the opening of the game to point that out — but... not in my house, not today.
I have played the final PlayStation 3 version of The Saboteur for about 11 hours in preparation for a review (look for it in the coming days), and I had played the game clean.
The game is an Assassin's Creed-esque, GTA-ish adventure of an Irish race-car driver assisting the resistance in Nazi-occupied France.
But the game came with a card, on which was printed a redemption code for The Midnight Show, some free downloadable content. "Enter code for in-game topless dances, a game of chance, and rewards for every risk," the card stated.
I didn't punch in the code.
I started the game and got this heads-up right away:
I resisted. No code. Not yet.
I did that, frankly, for gameplay reasons. The Midnight Show DLC isn't strictly an adult content tease. It suggests that it makes the game easier, by producing more hiding places for the Irish hero, Sean Devlin, to hide in when the Nazis chase him. The game already allows the player to duck Sean into sheds, run to a urinal or kiss a woman to throw the Nazis off. According to EA press materials regarding the Midnight Show, that DLC would allow Devlin to also duck into brothels.
So the content would make the game easier, in theory. It's something I wanted to test only after having played the game for a while.
Today, with EA's restriction on talking about the content lifting, I attempted to download it and see what it was all about. I understood that it would make the ladies in the game's central cabaret club topless, that it would add the ability to get topless dances, add a money-making gambling game, add the brothel hiding spots and who knows what else.
But after putting in my free code, I got this message:
So maybe the content isn't available through the PlayStation store yet. It's not surprising. The game won't be released until next week. The women in my game's nightclub will remain barely dressed, with pasties covering their nipples.
As much as the release of the Midnight Show will become a part of the discussion about adult content in games, it's important to also look at is as a sales device. EA will sell the Midnight Show for $5 for consumers who don't get the code on a card packed-in with the game's disc. But the fact that it is free to those who do purchase the game new and find that card suggests that the Midnight Show may be designed to incentivize consumers of new copies of the game, as opposed to those who buy it used. After all, it is probable that used copies of the game would not include the card for the free download, because it would likely already have been used. If that's the case, it winds up being similar to day-one free DLC for games such as Gears of War 2, which offered free multiplayer maps through a redemption code. It could be another salvo against used game sales at places like GameStop.
I asked about the Saboteur content to EA CEO John Riccitiello yesterday. He laughed about it, saying he was interested in seeing what the reaction was. He wondered aloud if people would nickname it. Not DLC but TLC, perhaps?
The Saboteur, which is rated M, ships for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 next week.