About a month ago, I wrote a column criticizing Capcom for some of its recent decisions. Among other things, I was particularly grumpy about Street Fighter X Tekken's on-disc DLC. I mean, a lot of us paid $60 for a game disc that includes characters we're not allowed to use without coughing up additional money. That's just wrong. In fact, this decision was so controversial that Capcom was reported to the Better Business Bureau over it.
Capcom's initial response was that the DLC was stored on the disc to save hard drive space and download time for users, as if they were doing us all a favor. I think it's safe to say that Capcom completely missed the point here. I mean, no one's mad over the fact that the content is on the disc, we're mad at the fact that we can't access it even though we paid for it. The fact that it's on the disc only serves as evidence that this content was complete before the game was pressed to the disc, solidifying our case that by paying for the disc we actually paid for this content already.
Now, here's a statement from Capcom's response to fans over the on-disc DLC complaints: "There is effectively no distinction between the DLC being 'locked' behind the disc and available for unlocking at a later date, or being available through a full download at a later date, other than delivery mechanism."
Oh, Capcom, but there is a difference. The difference is that this content was part of the initial package we paid $60 for. See, if the content was fully completed before the disc ever got pressed, it's not DLC. It's part of the game. That's the issue here. Gamers don't take kindly to seeing the games they love get partitioned into sellable mini-chunks, as if we're too ignorant to see the value of these products diminishing before our eyes. No, we can see through this gimmick, and it doesn't make us happy. In fact, it's ruining a lot of great games.
Now, I've said this before: I'm a huge supporter of DLC. I think it's a great way to add value to our favorite games and increase their playable lifespan. I mean, the upcoming Skyrim DLC sounds exciting, and will definitely have me going back to Tamriel whenever it comes out. But DLC naysayers have this argument to make: The very existence of DLC means developers/publishers can hold back content from paying customers in order to squeeze extra money out of them. And Capcom is effectively proving this argument right.
Okay, so Street Fighter X Tekken didn't do so hot at retail. Was this because several gamers realized that by paying the full price, they'd only be getting a portion of the actual product? Maybe. But do you want to know what Capcom blamed this on? Cannibalism. No, they weren't blaming actual people-eaters, but the metaphorical type of cannibalism caused by the oversaturation of the fighting game market. Too many games that are too similar being released in too short a time period.
Now, that's an interesting case to plead for a company who continues to release multiple versions of their fighting game franchises, fully expecting fans to keep paying for them. I mean, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3? Was that really necessary? And how many versions of Street Fighter IV are there now? I've lost count. Needless to say, as far as fighting games go, Capcom is the biggest "cannibalizer" of them all. So, essentially Capcom is blaming itself for SFxTK's poor sales. In a roundabout way, of course.
I can't help but get the feeling that Capcom is one of those companies that underestimates the intelligence of its audience, convinced we'll believe anything they say as long as there's the tiniest hint of logic behind it. And this is something that could eventually bite them hard. I mean, the company definitely has a strong legacy of great titles, so perhaps they deserve to puff themselves up once in a while. But this arrogance they've been displaying as of late is just astounding. Cannibalism. Ha!
Now, Capcom has realized that their approach to DLC is a mistake. Their very own Chris Svensson has admitted this, and has promised that Capcom's DLC delivery model would be changing as a result. While some titles are too far along in development to change the way their content is handled (Dragon's Dogma, for instance), future titles will scrap the whole on-disc DLC thing. So that's a step in the right direction.
Then again, this isn't the first time we've seen Capcom have to undo a horrible decision just to go on and make some more a few months later. There was that snafu last year dealing with the PC version of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition's always-on DRM. Capcom quickly reversed the decision in response to an overwhelming amount of fan complaints. But then they went on to make several bad DLC decisions in 2012.
My prediction: Capcom has this history of pushing their fans to the limit. In some ways, the game industry needs Capcom to do this, to prove to everyone else where the boundaries should be drawn when it comes to marketing a game. Other game developers should be watching them closely and taking notes. But Capcom's résumé is starting to read like a list of industry "don'ts." It's a good thing that Capcom can admit to its mistakes and attempt to fix them every now and then, but their willingness to continually butt their heads against their fan base in the first place is baffling.
I have this feeling that Capcom needs to start focusing on winning back fan support at this point, or they may see their fan base get so fed up that they stop supporting the company altogether. I mean, as I've stated earlier, it's undeniable that Capcom releases great games. It's just best if the greatness of these games doesn't have to come with a list of caveats. Agreed?
Editor / News Director
Date: May 17, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*