There is a prevailing attitude among some of the fighting game community that DLC is ruining fighting games. Characters like Jill and Shuma Gorath for Marvel vs. Capcom 3, or even the Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition which adds four new characters to the game are causing a bit of a schism between tournament players and the developers. Some players say "I will never support you!" to downloadable content, while others say "Suck it up and but it," to the people who opt out.
Why do people think DLC is ruining the community comes up, and why they're all wrong comes after.
How it used to work, versus how it works now.
Back in the day...maybe five years ago, there was no DLC for fighting games. There was an almost yearly King of Fighters installment, and a semi-regular Soul Calibur/Tekken cycle we were all used to. Street Fighter IV came out hard and strong as the public face of new fighting games by cementing the fast pace of 2D fighting with the glorious look of polygonal graphics. Other games like BlazBlue and the triumphant return of Mortal Kombat helped get the fighting game communities up and running, into full swing with new material to divide and conquer. But then a dark shadow crept over us all...
Downloadable Content can go a few ways: it can be free or paid, game changing or just aesthetic. Thanks to the internet, games with broken/cheap characters can receive little tweaks to make them more competitive or fair, new costumes/arenas/modes can all be added to the game as well as entirely new characters to pad out the roster. The yearly game is a thing of the past, the yearly update is in . Street Fighter IV slowly got into that groove by releasing Super Street Fighter IV with updates to the roster and game play, then back in April Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition came out with four more new characters and tweaks...but as DLC, not as a standalone disc (at first, the disc version comes out June 24th). For only a fraction of the full game's cost, and without having to go trade up for a new disc players can grab some new content for a well received game. This is the new way of things as the retail world subtly shifts from discs to digital releases. A few bucks can go a long way, or it can backfire big time.
What the issue is.
Sometimes, you get a Gill.
Gill is broken as hell. Tournaments are inclined to ban him, and watching the video above it should be easy to see why. He's able to do an abnormal amount of damage, juggles, stuns and more. His specials are strong, he's fast...etc. A tournament that allowed Gill to be playable would face an onslaught of Gill vs. Gill matches. It wouldn't be very competitive or very fun to watch...to most people. Gill enthusiasts might get a kick out of it. So the fear is that DLC will add a character or two that throw off the balancing of a game's roster. REALLY throw it off. Most recently the twins Yang and Yun of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition have been dive kicking their way through the tournament brackets. Their fast, tricky and versatile making them a top choice for high level players. Having the ability to switch back and forth between Super Street Fighter IV and Arcade Edition makes it a little easier to avoid the two roster skewing fighters, but some still feel that their inclusion in the "complete" roster has ruined the experience.
Why it's not an issue at all.
Back when patches for fighting games came in the form of yearly installations in the series, balancing an expanded roster post release was just not something that happened. But with DLC, and with the internet we now have that reality. New characters are coming out for Mortal Kombat, BlazBlue, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and other fighting games, and each one is a roll of the dice. But with patching, there can be a future for suddenly imbalanced rosters. Players give feedback, communities learn the little ins-and-outs and those fixes get folded into updates and new editions. The Arcade Edition of Street Fighter and BlazBlue's "Continuum Shift" update are the new face of the "yearly incarnation" of the fighting game genre. Add a character or two, change a few systems maybe add a few details, and you've got an update. SNK did this for over a decade with the King of Fighters series and we were there the whole way. Now that consoles are the new arcade machines, though, developers and publishers both will be looking for new ways to deliver content without having to do a full disc release.
Another complaint is the spending of money. Some players are miffed that developers would ask for money money after paying full price for a game, just to get some new characters and updates. This could get us into a discussion about "gamer entitlement", the sense that because they've paid the price of admission a gamer is owed a certain respect from the developer. The truth is, however, that if Capcom released a new Street Fighter once a year, for full price, no one would buy it after year two these days. Things like Arcade Edition happen because those disc versions do not, and they happen because of community interest mixed with publisher's awareness of need.
On top of the price, some would argue that having DLC means an unfair advantage at tournaments. What if you don't have the DLC character someone is using as their main? You can't practice against them, so you lose in seconds. Was it fair? Absolutely. It astounds me that this can even be brought up as an argument against DLC. DLC is a product that directly supports your passion, you have every opportunity to save for and get it (you did buy the game in the first place), and still somehow you can find it in your heart to claim that having it gives other people an unfair boost. DLC character complete the roster, adding depth a life to a game. Balancing comes with time (and good design helps), so when it comes there needs to be an enthusiasm for it, or there could end up being no more of it.
Overall it looks like the community supports DLC. There's griping, and there's some SERIOUS butthurt going on but them's the breaks in this industry. You're going to love or hate what your favorite game has in store for you next and can only hope and have faith that the developers are on board with what needs to be done. Remember: Yun can be beaten, there'll be another patch, there'll be another tournament. Remember to support downloadable content for the games you love, and the games will support you.