I’ve always loved playing fighting games. Easily my favorite genre of video games to this day, I’ve been there for the biggest releases of the last few years. Lately, though, it seems the biggest publishers in the genre have been getting greedy with gamers. As the amount of DLC and microtransactions increases – are fighting games worth picking up at launch anymore?
Arguably the biggest catalyst for this was Capcom’s Street Fighter IV. Released in 2009, the game came out at full retail cost – around $60 when released. Street Fighter IV was a great game but the next year Capcom released the upgraded game Super Street Fighter IV with new game modes and new characters for $40. This was effectively a brand new game and not DLC, meaning that fans who owned the original Street Fighter IV were left with an out of date experience. More versions came out over the years with the Arcade and Ultra Edition extending the game’s lifespan. It’s safe to say that if you followed the upgrade path – Street Fighter IV ultimately cost fans in the region of £200
It’s not just Capcom who are alone in doing this. Netherrealm have experimented with the idea increasingly. Mortal Kombat 9 was released in April 2011 and cost $60. Mortal Kombat 9 featured four DLC Characters that cost $5 each but in Feb. 2012 Netherrealm released the Komplete Edition. The Komplete Edition had all four DLC characters and DLC costumes on the disc. They followed the same template with their next two games Injustice and Mortal Kombat X. Both of these games were released and almost close to a year of its release Netherrealm released the Complete Edition with all of the DLC features. Injustice 2 was released a few months ago so it won’t be much of a surprise if we see the Complete Edition for this game in the future. fighting games there always seems to be another version of the game that comes out later. It makes you stop and think about buying a fighting game on the release date because we don’t know if we’re getting the full game. There might another be another version of the game that comes out with all the DLC characters.
Recently Namco admitted that Tekken 7’s post-release content was essential in allowing the developer to continue working on the game once it hit shelves. If people held off buying the game and waited for the “Complete Edition”, it’s unknown just how much support the game would receive. The question I’m left wondering though, is this a good deal for gamers?
Inherently, DLC and microtransactions aren’t a bad thing. Quite the opposite, they can add new content and characters to games that that would otherwise get boring. The problem arises though when developers limit the scale of their initial rosters in an attempt to extract more and more money from gamers. Capcom has come under fire for launching their games with on-disc DLC – a sign that the company is looking for a quick buck. But the problem arguably goes deeper than this.
Marvel vs Capcom Infinite arrives today in gamers hands. We know that the starting roster features 30 characters with six DLC characters. Now I’m not a video game designer but these six DLC characters can definitely be on the starting roster. Compared to past Marvel vs. Capcom outings – that roster is laughably thin. It’s even more eyebrow-raising when you consider that the developers have completely ejected the X-Men from the lineup – leaving the game feeling awkwardly small compared to games over a decade old.
This kind of petty micro slicing of content only makes developers look bad. It’s getting to the point in fighting games where users are expecting characters and content to arrive later. Treating games like platforms isn’t fair when you’re asking for full price upon entry. Even more so when the content is there and ready to be given – but developers just want extra money. It’s a shameless cash grab and it ultimately only harms the perception of the product. You got our money for the game, what else do you need on launch day?
It means those people who run out to buy the game today will need to pay more for the full experience. Inevitably when Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite Complete Edition arrives – most will have invested well over the initial retail amount to get that experience. It’s just wrong in my eyes.
The sad thing is though that the situation will only get worse. As gamers accept this more and more, publishers will push the boat out on characters. We’ll be paying full price for a shop window soon – with characters dangled in front of us as DLC temptations. It’s a weird direction for fighting games to be heading in – and not one I’m a fan of.
In the end fighting games today aren’t the same they as they used to be. Perhaps I’m out of step with modern trends – but I like to wait now and buy my games later. At least then I’m getting the full roster and set of features without dipping into my pocket every several weeks.
What do you think? Are fighting games being too harsh in cutting characters for day one DLC? Do think anything is fair game in the fighting genre?