Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Project 52 2012 (17/52): On How You Can Never Please Gamers (No Matter What You Do)

.:Project 52 2012 (17/52): On How You Can Never Please Gamers (No Matter What You Do):.

I recently bought a copy of Street Fighter x Tekken for the PS3, and I was very pleased about it. I mean, wow. 38 characters from two of the best fighting game franchises in the gaming world! Playing the game, I definitely felt a rush, because the game simply handled like a dream. Oodles upon oodles of different flavors across the cast, and a host of other features that add a whole lot of depth to the game. My favorite SFIV character, Makato, isn't in the game, but no game is perfect, I guess.

It was a great game, and I was more than happy to pay full price for the game because, hey, I knew going in that I was going to have 38 characters to play with, and a few more to come in a few months via DLC.

And then gamers far and wide found out that the DLC was already there in the data of the disk, just locked out from play. Oh, noes!

Now, a furor has been raised about this "issue." Clearly, Capcom is being greedy and wants to make money! How dare a company selling video games want to do something as unthinkable as make money? I mean, obviously, 38 characters aren't enough, and we want those other 12 characters like, right now, for freeeee!

If you find this kind of thinking ridiculous and, well, entitled, welcome to the world of gamers, who hate on the very games they love to play.

Let me take you on a trip down memory lane as we remember the history of Capcom's fighting games from the very first Street Fighter II that hit the arcades. For its time, it was a revolutionary game, inspiring a relentless number of knock-offs from other companies. When it was sold on the SNES more or less two decades ago, cartridges were available at $79.99 a pop or so. It had eight characters. If you got lucky, maybe you could find the game at $59.99, the exact same prices brand new games are in 2012.

Wow! Eight characters who don't have the exact same movesets unlike Street Fighter 1? Sign me up!

Sure, advances in technology and whatnot, but let's look at that again: $60 to $80 for a game 20 years ago. You get eight characters.

In contrast, Street Fighter X Tekken is approximately $60 in today's prices, and you get 38 characters.

So when SFII: Champion Edition came out and had the exact same price point, did we hear fanboys complain? Probably not, since the internet didn't exist yet, but really, weren't the four "new" characters in this game just you having access to the four boss characters already in SFII: World Warrior, to begin with? Doesn't this mean that the data for these guys is already, ahem, on the cartridge? I don't know about you, but if you found nothing wrong with paying $60 for an extra four characters you were already playing against, I fail to see how whining about an extra $20 to get three times as many extra characters is worth complaining about. And for those complaining about the fact that Marvel vs. Capcom 3 came out with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and rendering the first MVC3 obsolete in nine months, well, guess when SFII's SNES Champion Edition (Actually titled SFII: Turbo) came out? SFII: The World Warrior came out in June 1992. SFII Turbo came out in July of the same year. A month. Can you imagine how an early adopter who bought World Warrior for $80 would've felt back then?

What? Can't we just unlock this content on our cartridges via... err, something?!?

Then SFII: Turbo came out, and boy! Not a single new character! Just a bunch of new moves for some characters and some balance tweaks and who cares, right? But lo and behold, it was very well-received, and this version is often considered the best version of the SFII era next only to its final iteration of Super SFII: Turbo.

And Honda slapping Sagat around? Lies!!!

Super SFII with four new characters and terrible, terrible balance that undid so much of the good SFII Turbo made? That's another $60 to $80, guys. Fork 'em over.

Can't we just DLC this on our cartridges?!?

Super Street Fighter II was pretty poorly received, and it had to be fixed with Super SFII: Turbo. This was by far the best iteration of the game, bar none: new balance tweaks including new moves, the now-common Super combo meter, the now-vital throw break mechanic, and even a hidden, 17th character who was considered too powerful and broken for competitive play. It was, for all intents and purposes, a great update, except for one problem: it wasn't available on the SNES at all. This meant it would cost you $700 for a Panasonic 3DO, where the game was exclusively available at the time, and $50 for the game, since finally, we hit the CD era of gaming, where games were "cheaper" for a while, and then came games running on 2 or more CD's...

What? Just one new character?!? And these Super combos are just so playskool and baby shoes!

So, the pinnacle of fighting in the 90's, a game being played even up to this very day, would've cost a gamer $750, and each previous iteration of the game would've cost them $60 for the most part, which meant, SFII, SFII Turbo, and SSFII, so an additional $180. And even that high point for fighting games had... 17 characters?

And... Street Fighter X Tekken has 38 characters, and we're complaining?!?

What a swindle!

I'm not saying that we should go back to the days of only 8 to 17 characters, although with new but excellebnt fighting games like Skullgirls having only 10, that isn't such a horrible thing, either. What I'm trying to do is show some perspective here. We got so spoiled with 56 characters from Marvel vs. Capcom 2, which actually mostly consisted of rehashed sprites from older games, that we ended up expecting the same number of characters from every succeeding fighting game already.

In fact, when Super SFIV came out, and it added about 10 characters, we had people scoffing and saying "What? Just 10 characters, some new stages, balance tweaks, and new Ultra combos? That's already a new release? What a rip-off!!!"

This is ignoring the fact that an update precisely consists of either balance tweaks, new stages, new characters, or new moves, and all of that was included in the Super SFIV package. You take all that away, then you have exactly the same game, so I don't think anyone whining about this "not" being an update actually knows what the word means.

There is no promise that without DLC, we were going to get those 50 characters on Street Fighter X Tekken. They could functionally have done the same thing they did during SFIV to Super SFIV or Marvel vs Capcom 3 to UMVC3, where they came up with another disc release instead of making the game available via DLC. Rest assured that would probably cause a lot more rage than the current situation we are faced with instead, since even at a discounted price of $40, that would be double the $20 they plan to charge us with for the DLC characters.

Granted, X-Box users have every right to gripe about the fact that certain promised features were not included for them, such as co-op online, but to assume that not developing those 12 DLC characters to instead deliver these features, as if the character designers would be the same people as the game system designers, is bordering on ridiculous. Furthermore, to ignore the convenience of having DLC content locked away on your disc instead of downloading it on a hard drive with limited space when it was clear from the get-go that: 1. The game was going to have DLC you were gonna pay for anyway, and 2. The original game was being marketed as a 38-character game, then you can see how being a stickler for semantics on the notion of "downloadable content" and all this bull about "developing cycles" and whatnot is just fanboys playing armchair game developers without understanding the first thing about it: games are designed to make money for the game designers.

Do I wish I had 50 characters and got the extra 12 right now, if not for free? Of course I do! Do I expect it from Capcom? Of course not! At no point did they promise any of these things to me, so at no point do I feel entitled to something I was not promised, even if it happens to be locked away on my disc. If I really had a problem with this practice, I simply wouldn't buy the game. I wouldn't buy the game knowing full well it's for 38 characters, find out about the 12 extra hidden on my disc, then proceed to whine why I don't have access to those 12 and completely ignore the fact that nobody from Capcom said I was going to get those 12 for free or right now. Ever.

So with that in mind, I simply cannot fault Capcom for this move. They promised us 38 characters + DLC, and we didn't complain. We found out that a simple line or two of code (Simple as it may be, 99.99% of you reading this, like myself, wouldn't know how to write it, much less where to put it, anyways.), and all of a sudden Capcom is the devil? Really? For what? For wanting to save a little money since they pay for data storage whenever they make DLC available, when this on-disc thing doesn't really affect us any which way? I mean, seriously.

And sure, of course people have a right to complain. Nobody has the right to stop them. But if you really, really hate Capcom and all that they stand for, maybe you should stop buying their games then whining afterwards? Being critical of Capcom's business practices is one thing. Being a hypocrite while you're at it is another.

Case in point: "Freemium" games on iOS, particularly those that come from Glu. If you feel compelled and swindled to pay your way to play their games, then yeah, maybe you shouldn't even be playing those games if you weren't willing to pay for it in the first place. I learned this the hard way when I plunked over $100 into that stupid Blood and Glory game, which, while free to download, was impossibly hard without making in-app purchases. What made this thing even worse was the game was a ripoff of a game I already had: the infinitely better Infinity Blade, which wasn't a free download, and cost an astronomical $7.

$7 versus $100? Yeah, I think that taught me quite a lesson, all right, and I have no reason to ever blame Glu games for it, because I willingly walked into that trap, hook, line and sinker. It just means they're never seeing another cent from me ever again, because hey, I actually hate their business practices, and am letting my wallet speak for itself, although $100 too late.

Otherwise, I'd continue plunking money into Blood and Glory while whining about Glu's unfair practices, and wouldn't that just be the height of not just hypocrisy, but stupidity?

But still, screw you, Glu Games. That felt cathartic to say.

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