As many of you might know, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is due to be released tomorrow and, even before the game’s release, I’m of the opinion that it’s destined to succeed. The tag system looks exciting, the battles look intense and it’s overflowing with features; but those factors alone are never enough to guarantee a successful game. What might be more important to it becoming successful is the philosophy behind TTT2; a philosophy that is practically non-existent in developers nowadays. But before we get to that, try this mental exercise quickly: how much would you be willing to pay for a ten character DLC? R50? R100? R200?. Well here’s a Tweet from TTT2’s head developer and here’s what he has to say about it.
Try 0. Read it again once you’ve picked up your jaw because I absolutely struggled to believe it the first time. Is this really a developer going that extra mile to produce a better game? It’s as scarce in today’s industry as a flying cat. It’s actually quite an absurdity when you consider that the game already has 50 characters ready to play off the disc. Think about that for a second, fifty. That’s more than any other fighting game released this generation, more than any Tekken game ever released and there are at least ten more, all downloadable or unlockable for free with Harada promising to work on more in the future. Ten more brings the roster up to 60. Tekken 6 had 41 playable fighters and that was considered ridiculous. Even Super Street Fighter IV’s cast of 35 was considered to be varied and large. 60, and possibly more, just dwarfs it by such a huge factor that its hard to even imagine it. (Full list can be found here.)
It seems too good to be true but in a time when video game developers are too cheap to even include an instruction booklet in their games any more, you have a development team that is trying as hard as it can to fill their game with as much quality content as possible. You can argue quantity versus quality but the Tekken series has always had high quality characters with great models (which have improved since Tekken 6) and between 50-100 moves each so it’s hard to be disappointed as a Tekken fan when nearly every character that the franchise has ever seen is playable in this one game. And that’s not even counting the other free DLC extras. I’m sure the Dead or Alive fans who purchased their Bikini costumes would be jealous when they find out Tekken Tag is giving the exact same thing to its fans free of charge.
I’m actually finding it hard to stay my usual objective self on this and I can’t help but feel the excitement. So many games nowadays are minimalist experiences and once you get through the meagre scraps that they throw at you for about six to eight hours you pretty much have no reason to ever play the game again other than sheer debilitating boredom. Worse yet is the state that the Fighting Game genre is in at the moment thanks to Crapcom. It should come as no surprise to those of you who read this column on a regular basis that even though I am a huge fan of the Devil May Cry and Street Fighter franchises, I hate Capcom and everything they stand for. I actually wrote about why I consider them to be the current generation’s worst developers right here and one of my main reasons for despising them was because of their desire to constantly push more and more paid DLC till it became an industry standard.
And sadly, constant paid DLC is becoming an industry norm. Recently, a BioWare developer spoke up to defend Day 1 DLC (click here) and I quote him saying: “Every game is an ongoing service, almost like an MMO, where on any given day new content shows up. Maybe that’s part of the base package, and maybe it’s a premium feature”. To me, at least, that’s a sad image of the future of gaming. That you can pay R500 to R600 on a game at full retail price (which is already ten times the price of a movie or five times the price of a book) and then still not be entitled to the full experience unless you’re willing to pay an additional 10%-30% premium on your purchase to buy content, some of which might already be on the disc (i.e. having been finished during the standard development cycle). I’m sure it works as a business model, but something about it makes me sick to my stomach.
The most shocking example of this, as many of you are no doubt familiar with, was with Capcom’s very own Street Fighter X Tekken. It was a game that I was really looking forward to, being both a Street Fighter and a Tekken fan, but not even I could deny that it was an un-finished bare-bones experience where you could hardly finish a battle without the timer running out. Within a week I could already see what a flimsy package it was. And then, of course, came the worst shock of all that left everyone who purchased it feeling betrayed; the 12 character on-disc DLC. Twelve additional characters were locked on the disc and could only be unlocked by paying an additional $20 on your original $60 purchase (US figures here). That’s a 25% premium just to fill out a character roster? And don’t get me started on all of the other DLC for that game that’s required to actually make the game feel complete in terms of promised features. Imagine having to pay 25% more on a movie ticket or you can’t see any of the Catwoman scenes in Batman. Ludicrous isn’t it? But that’s essentially what Capcom did.
There were of course ‘people’ (read imbeciles) who defended this strategy and saw the ‘merits’ in it but I felt determined in my beliefs that this was not the right way to do things and that if developers went this route it would be a sad and miserable era for the gaming industry. And now with Tekken Tag’s release, I finally feel vindicated in my beliefs; there are still Triple A developers out there that care enough to produce the best game that they possibly can. Developers whose first priority is to make a great game rather than make a great profit. It really is heart-warming to see developers like Valve and many Indie companies still have the desire to produce amazing games. Even Ubisoft joined the party recently when they decided to finally kill off DRM for good (see here for more).
And now Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is going to show the industry that games don’t have to produced with the intent of milking every last cent from the potential customer base to be successful and, for that, it has my full support. At times, any one of us might feel like a small fish in a big pond with no ability to affect the societal forces at large but remember that a mass of consumers is made up of free-willed individuals. No matter how small it may be, you have a vote. And you can use that vote not only by supporting games that follow practices and philosophies that you agree with, but also by refusing to support those that you don’t. Street Fighter X Tekken was a commercial failure because gamers didn’t like what they saw and didn’t buy it. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom didn’t even sell a million copies. (See here and here but Google it if you don’t believe me). If any other game tries to extort us, we have the power to fail it by simply ignoring it’s existence. What developers need to realize is that we don’t need them. They need us…
See you in two weeks time…