by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I’ve been a fan of fighting games since Street Fighter II. The games of my youth were Street Fighter II, Time Killers, Tekken, Soul Edge. Back in the day, you couldn’t just “add” a character to a game. In this modern era of the Internet, it’s easy to add three, four or even five characters to a game so that everyone has the opportunity to give them a shot. Now, you might think it’s unfair to charge for these new characters, instead of simply releasing a “complete” game. A game that costs 60 bucks, and then they add eight, twelve, or even more characters? I can see why that would upset people. But all too soon people forget that Street Fighter II had at least five iterations! And most everyone I know bought at least one, but usually more of them. Hell, Street Fighter II: Championship Edition and Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting came out in the same year.
Turbo/Hyper Fighting included the boss characters that were already in the game. Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers added Cammy, Fei Long, Dee Jay, and T. Hawk. Super II Turbo added Akuma/Gouki as a hidden character. So this is not new, and in fact, it was more expensive back in the day. I’m not defending it, because it drives me nuts to have to buy new characters every time they come out. I don’t anymore unless I’m vested in that character – maybe they were in a previous game, and I enjoyed playing them. It’s a sad fact that fighting games are not lucrative from a business standpoint, without DLC.
I think that’s why DLC has always been successful in fighting games – even if you buy the game used, on sale, or a friend gives it to you, the company can still make money off of it, since your personal account does not have that previously purchased DLC. But you know what I do hate? DLC that’s announced before the game is even out, or DLC that’s already on the Disc. Don’t do that. That makes people think you don’t respect them. Nobody wants to feel like a dollar sign. Did the game come with a full roster and an announcement that there “will” be DLC later? Okay. Smaller Roster, and characters have already been announced that are coming “later”? Not okay. BlazBlue Cross Tag was especially guilty of this. Tekken 7 is an example of it done right, in my opinion.
From a business perspective, I understand it. As a player, not so much. Not to mention, anyone who wants to be/is actually a professional fighting game player, I feel like it’s important for them to have every character in whatever game they play, even if they don’t prefer to play them. Not a necessity but I see it being important. You might change your mind about them, you might have a local friend/community to play with and practice with. Having everyone would be key in that situation. Now, I’m not a pro. I play casually at best but do what I can to grow and practice in whatever fighter I play, even if at times, I feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
There are people who say “If they let people try to play everyone when they come out, companies will lose money”. I don’t necessarily know that I agree with that. Would people be less likely to buy “everyone”? Perhaps. But I don’t think your average player buys everyone anyway, except users who get the Season Pass. I would be far more likely to buy a Season Pass, personally, if the game itself weren’t 60 bucks. This goes double for fighting games with multiple season passes, to make the game last. I would rather there be updates and DLC characters, rather than buy a whole new game every six months.
But you know what does turn people off from buying DLC/characters? Buying one, or worse still, buying a Season Pass, and not liking what you purchased. Whether it’s 5, 30, or 90 dollars, that’s money you no longer have and are not satisfied with your purchase. This is a feeling that I’ve had in MMOs and Fighting Games alike. At least fighting games have a solution that I’ve yet to see a company try. Are they afraid they’ll lose money? Perhaps. But I think it would gain the goodwill of their fanbase, which would be more likely to ultimately spend money on a company they trust. That’s my two cents, anyway. Maybe I’m wrong, but I stand by it: Fighting Games should give you the option to try new characters in Training Mode when they release. Even if it’s for a limited time – say a week, a month, whatever. You would not be able to play them online, in story mode, or to hunt for achievements.
You would only be able to play in Training Mode, or Challenge Modes (combo trials, et cetera). That way, the vast amount of casuals who pick up a game can find who they want to play, not simply throw money in the trash. Maybe this is an idealistic view of the situation, but I stand by it. This does not include music/stages – those are easy enough to preview online or could show off a stage in-game before you purchase it. I wanted to focus on the idea of characters first. No matter how much I love fighting game content creators that I follow (Maximilian, XO Academy, Justin Wong, ElChakotay), I want to play them, experience them myself. Just because Jwong thinks someone is god tier, they might not fit how I approach the game. And that’s okay.
Where do you stand on this? Should characters be just handed out? Free trials? Should you have to trust other content creators before you buy?