Arc System Works is not typically a company associated with controversy. Up until recently, Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle looked to be just another fighter created by the company that places all its other fighting properties into one. This was, until the DLC plans for Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle was announced and the Internet went into a frenzy. Now, I wish to be clear, I am not defending Arc System Works for its choice. I personally would rather have no DLC at all (but this is the world we live in). Rather, this article is focused on the reaction from this decision that has started the controversy and how perception has caused it to become overblown.
Many Fighting Games Do This
Hearing that Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle is doubling its roster as DLC will send a jolt through anyone’s system. It’s the type of announcement that no matter how it’s said, it’s going to rub people the wrong way. The irony, of course, is that many other fighting games do something nearly identical when it comes to DLC; the difference is they don’t tell the same story. For example, Injustice 2 has had the following DLC structure (with microtransactions as well mind you):
- Fighter Pack 1 (Includes 3 Characters) – $19.99
- Fighter Pack 2 (Includes 3 Characters) – $19.99
- Fighter Pack 3 (Includes 3 Characters) – $19.99
- Darkseid – $5.99
- Ultimate Pack (Includes All 3 Fighter Packs) – $39.99
- Darkseid – $5.99
When the games’ DLC is laid out as above, it paints a much more harrowing picture. To own all the content for the game, it takes $96.99, nearly $100 dollars to play all the characters. To anyone who would hear this information first, it would leave a bad taste in their mouth. Here you have only nine characters that are costing $40 (or $60 depending), where the base game includes 20+ fighters and at most costs $60. In comparison to the base game, it is completely disproportionate in terms of price per content, and yet, it’s something that is just accepted.
For Blazeblue: Cross Tag Battle, the price of the DLC characters remains a mystery. But for a moment let’s assume that after the base game and DLC are tallied, they equal the same as Injustice 2. If this is the case, then there is actually more value per dollar in comparison as you gain more characters for less money spent. Of course, this is just an assumption, but it provides an important point. The way we look at fighting games in terms of their DLC is warped and part of that warped view has spawned this controversy.
The status quo when it comes to fighting games is to release the base game priced at $60 and then to have a series of DLCs that add additional characters; Injustice 2 does it, Street Fighter V does it, Super Smash Bros. does it, Tekken 7 does, nearly every fighting game in recent memory follows this model.
The difference is how each of these games handles its base game vs. its DLC. In the case of Tekken 7 and Super Smash Bros., both essentially have a season pass worth of content. That is a number of characters and other items that are intended to last several months to a year. In both these scenarios, the cost you pay for DLC is greatly disproportionate in comparison to the base game. In the case of Super Smash, all of the characters amount to more than $35 dollars while only adding 6 new characters. For Super Smash Bros., there is no outrage to be found over the exorbitant cost difference in comparison to the base game, nor over a few fighters added for the cost of the DLC. Again, in comparison to Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle, which may have a lot of DLC characters, but the sheer amount of those DLC characters existing shouldn’t be alarming. What should be alarming is the cost and value of said DLC.
Street Fighter V has a somewhat odd arrangement when it comes to DLC and characters. The base game is required (obviously) but then characters are potentially available to earn through in-game credits (this can take awhile) but can also be purchased by season passes that devalues by age (season 1 is $9.99 where season 2 is $19.99). Now Street Fighter V received a ton of controversy and backlash within the community, but a large portion of that wasn’t focused on the DLC. Rather, it was focused on the lack of common game modes combined with technical issues, where DLC issues took a back seat and have slowly just become accepted once other issues were finally addressed.
Finally, there is Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, which so far, has included a character pass (giving six new fighters) at the jarring price of $30 or each character individually at $7.99. Again, the DLC’s price per content is extremely disproportionate to the main game. And again, it just goes on being accepted regardless of the disproportionate nature of the content.
In all these cases, the DLC structure just becomes accepted. This is regardless of the value of that DLC, especially in how it relates to the base game. Either no or very little controversy is born out of these. But for BlazBlue, the exact opposite has happened, by just presenting the information differently.
How You Say Things
Context matters, especially when it comes to perceiving the world around us. The way things are presented to us can shape our opinion around them. When it comes to the DLC of fighting games, you will notice an overall theme of the lack of information. Companies may reveal how long they support the game or the latest batch of DLC that is soon to arrive. However very few rarely have their entire content plans laid out, either because it’s not planned yet or they don’t want consumers to know. Regardless of the reason, the effect is the same; the consideration of how far-reaching and intrusive that DLC may be is simply unknown. When a game comes out and all you are aware of is the first batch of DLC with nothing else hinting at future releases, the perception is different. Perhaps it doesn’t seem as bad that only X amount of characters are being announced in DLC, but when that changes to 3X, people start to react differently.
This is what Blazblue is currently experiencing, instead of announcing their DLC plans sparingly or across multiple months or years, it was all announced up front. All these announcements that are so far away from release and happening all at once felt jarring, but in reality, it’s largely the same as every other fighting game. This is the crux of my argument, is that this outrage over Blazblue is misplaced because it’s purely based on the perception of when and how it was announced. If it were announced in the same fashion as other fighting games, this article wouldn’t need to exist. If everyone was equally upset about other fighting games’ DLC practices and value, this article wouldn’t need to exist; but here we are. Discussing how a warped perception has caused outrage over a fighting game’s upcoming DLC, even though it does nothing different than other fighting games.
Lets all just be outraged equally over all of these poor DLC practices, rather than get upset when a company doesn’t feed it to us the right way.