While at no point in my life would I ever have called myself a Capcom fanboy, I certainly had a lot of respect for the company when I was growing up. Mega Man stole my heart in the NES era, and, being a huge DuckTales fan as a kid, I loved Capcom's 8-bit take on the DuckTales series. And then, in the PSOne era, they introduced me to the Resident Evil series. Though RE and I have since had a bit of a falling out (RE5? Really?), RE2 still stands out as one of my favorite games on the PSOne. So I've been loving Capcom's games for about two decades now.
But so many of their decisions have been rubbing me the wrong way lately that I'm tempted to just give up on the company. I mean, I made it clear long ago how I felt about the tragic death of Mega Man, but that really just made me sad. It's Capcom's more recent decisions that have me peeved right now.
I've recently complained about their bad decisions regarding DLC in both Asura's Wrath and Street Fighter X Tekken, but it's the latter that I want to focus on today. To make a long story short, SFxTK has over seventy dollars' worth of DLC on the game disc, a move I think all fighting game fans should find horribly offensive. Now, because I'm a forgiving guy, I'll cut Capcom a break for all the merely cosmetic knickknacks they've put on the disc. But playable characters? That's cheap. Shame on you, Capcom.
Now, we first heard of these on-disc characters when some hackers managed to crack them open and begin playing them illegally. Wait, illegally is a poorly chosen word. Why would it be illegal (or even immoral) for players to get to use characters that are already on the freaking disc they paid for? What should be illegal is charging players for content that's included on the disc. Capcom fully completed these characters before the game shipped. There's no reason we players can't use them except that Capcom found a way to make a quick buck of its fans. To me, that's just dirty, and, as I've said before, it's one of the absolute worst possible implementations of DLC.
Now, in response to these hackers, Tomoaki Ayano, producer on the game, told GameSpot this:
"Personally, I was really surprised when I heard the news that the characters had been hacked, basically. So I was pretty disappointed by that. I was really surprised at how skillful the hackers were, basically. But I was really kind of disappointed that it created this kind of environment where a bunch of players were playing the characters but a bunch were unable to play with them."
Classy, man. Real classy. You see, the problem with this statement is that it wasn't the hackers that created "this kind of environment;" it was Capcom. This situation arose because Capcom decided to hold back content that legitimately should have been included in the $60 asking price for the game in the first place. Selling us 76% (yes, I did the math on that percentage based off the Xbox 360 character roster—it would be about 78.18% if you count the Sony-exclusive characters) of a game for 100% of the value of a full game is just shady. It's a quick cash grab. Those hackers who broke into the game's code to pull those remaining characters aren't the ones to be blamed for this. In my not-so-humble opinion, these hackers were only accessing content they had already paid for.
Now, let's shift the focus off Capcom for a brief moment here. Tekken series director Katsuhiro Harada has become one of my favorite people recently. And not because of his rock star grand entrance at NAMCO Bandai's Global Gamers Day last week (though, I assure you that was suitably epic). He actually weighed in on this DLC issue himself in an interview with Edge Online that was posted earlier this week.
You see, Harada feels that every character in a fighting game is essential to the complete experience. He even said that they were "like chess pieces." Though I'm not opposed to the idea of offering new characters as DLC down the line, I have to agree with Harada on this, at least as far as on-disc characters are concerned.
Let's take this chess piece metaphor a little further here. Say you went out and bought yourself a chess set, only to find out that the knights and bishops had been removed. Now, you could purchase those pieces individually, or you could simply play a knight-and-bishop-less game of chess. Honestly, would you feel like you had been ripped off? I know I would.
Now, I should probably make it clear that Harada wasn't hating on Capcom here. In fact, in the same interview, he explained some legitimate reasons why these fighters may have been included on the SFxTK disc. Still, it's hard to not be upset over having to drop an additional $20 to get the complete game you already paid $60 for.
My prediction: Capcom needs to reconsider its fans, especially those in the fighting game community. The recent surge in fighting game popularity is a precarious thing. By ripping off the very fans that make this whole thing work, Capcom could potentially be shooting itself in the foot. When players simply stop buying fighting games because they're tired of having to pay $80+ in order to get 100% of a game that—let's be honest here—probably isn't evolving the genre in any meaningful way, we could see the fighting game community start to dwindle once again. Capcom needs to take a serious look at how far off the map the fighting game community had fallen before its recent explosion in popularity, and they should thank their lucky stars that anyone at all gives a damn about the genre in 2012.
Editor / News Director
Date: April 19, 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.*