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DLC Is Not Ruining Fighting Games

Yun and Yang - The World and Martial Arts.jpg

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.

6 Comments

Frankie said:

I don't think DLC is 'ruining' fighting games. If anyone is to blame, it's the fans. The developers are inclined more than ever to listen to fan demands, which are often selfish and baseless desires. "X IS MY FAVOURITE CHARACTER HOW DARE YOU REMOVE HER, BRING HER BACK." "If you don't announce x then I will commit suicide", etcetera, etcetera. This is the biggest problem I think.

Perish_Song said:

So...by that standard then the games we buy with the DLC on disc that we have to pay extra for the simple unlock isn't gauging? I just paid 60 bucks but I don't get full use of my game I need to pay $72 bucks for that (5.99 per character).

It's just a dishonest way of trying to get more for the game. What happened to unlocking the characters by completing tasks? Instead I now have to have deeper pockets, and bigger wallets to fully enjoy something that I'm expected to pay double for (once for the disc, and another for unlocking the character already on disc).

As for DLC I've learned first hand that some (but not all) DLC is already completed before the game is released and rolls out with projected dates, (possibly strategically released for maximum profit during certain financial quarters).

Why is that relevant? That means the DLC most likely was tested at the same time all of the other content was, albeit not tested well due to budget cuts, and and shorter deadlines.

So I don't buy that DLC causes imbalances amongst characters, I believe those imbalances existed long before they were released, but due to the limited testing, were released with a "we'll just patch that later" attitude.

The only time DLC makes sense is when it is content that does not fit on or within the restraints of the game (i.e. bonus content), and even then it shouldn't have absurd pricing attached to them. Much like DLC patches should be sparing as the game should have been put through hell before release. Yes there will be bugs and glitches that slip through the cracks but a game riddled with them is just bad news.

So...yeah I'm for DLC done right, but there is a LOT of DLC that is just plain ugly.

P.S. I love shuma gorath, but I'm not paying 4.99 or roughly a 10th of the game cost just for ONE character, capcom can go to hell with that kind of pricing.

Shin Gallon said:

"the fast pace of 2D fighting with the glorious look of polygonal graphics."

I call shenanigans, SF4's graphics are hardly glorious >_>

Silver Phoenix said:

You mean you don't enjoy Capcom's steroid fest of women with legs bigger than sumo wrestlers?

The problem with DLC is that it gives companies incentives to give you half of a game, charge full price, and then sell you more of the game over time. Day 1 DLC is insulting, because you know it's already available but they're selling you the key to accessing it.

Calvin P. said:

Sorry, Joe, but I largely disagree with this article. Furthermore to the already commented on issues you brought up the point that players who pony up a few more bucks deserve a competitive edge. Part of what makes competitive gaming a compelling and legitimate activity is the fact that since everyone (ideally) has the same tool set to work with, the victor of a match or tournament should be the one with the best skill at the controller. Should professional sports organizations be granted a score boost for their games if they pay the league a few clams? Of course not. Paying for use of an unbalanced fighter in a match or tournament against another human being amounts to bribing the developers for an unfair advantage.

The same goes for first person shooters as we have seen in the past with Battlefield: Bad Company and what EA was about to do with Battlefield 3.

You also lump DLC in with patches which I don't think is fair to do either. That's like saying that bringing a car in for a factory recall to be repaired is the same as getting an after market stereo and DVD system put in.

I do, however agree that this era of DLC has given rise to a sense of gamer entitlement and that some of us feel like we should be getting a free lunch all the time. I just think that people are on to something when publishers have content ready to go on launch day that they withhold for more money at a later date.

Joe Prime said:

Me and Joe have discussed this topic many MANY times in person and it's such a hard issue to tackle.
From a developers stand point its a genius idea to keep fans of a franchise and to keep games fresh for the zergly masss of gamers who refuse to play anything thats not the newestnewnew thingthatotherpeopledonthaveyet.
Personally, I can't stand it. Its just another barrier that keeps me from playing a complete game. Balance in this argument is a nonissue that can be settled by training, but its hard to train those skills when your game is being changed constantly. It may sound kind of whiney and anti-change but as a competitive player I just want to buy a complete package that I can study instead of a constant stream of packages that keep changing what I have to learn. If I wanted constant new stuff, I'd play an MMO. If I want a game that I can study like chess for years and years I play a fighting game.
I don't know if this comment actually says anything but I'm kind of heated. Either way, ilu Joe, keep up the good work.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Joe Prime on DLC Is Not Ruining Fighting Games: Me and Joe have discussed this topic many MANY times in person and it's such a hard issue to...

Calvin P. on DLC Is Not Ruining Fighting Games: Sorry, Joe, but I largely disagree with this article. Furthermore to the already commented on issues you brought up the...

Silver Phoenix on DLC Is Not Ruining Fighting Games: You mean you don't enjoy Capcom's steroid fest of women with legs bigger than sumo wrestlers? The problem with DLC...

Shin Gallon on DLC Is Not Ruining Fighting Games: "the fast pace of 2D fighting with the glorious look of polygonal graphics." I call shenanigans, SF4's graphics are hardly...

Perish_Song on DLC Is Not Ruining Fighting Games: So...by that standard then the games we buy with the DLC on disc that we have to pay extra for...

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