Sunday, 10 November 2013

CAPCOM - Dodgy DLC, Over Pricing, and why they need to change.

I recently read an article online stating that Capcom are suffering financial difficulties and don't have the funds to enter the next generation of consoles. Many years ago this news would have filled me with a deep sadness and may even have inspired me to rush out and buy all their new products as a sign of support. But, unfortunately that is no longer the case. For Capcom have been asking for this for a long time now, and many lifelong fans will simply stick up their middle finger and mutter "serves you right".

A love affair begins

Ever since I first set foot in an arcade and experienced the delights of their games, I have been a huge Capcom fan. I loved Ghosts 'N Goblins, adored Final Fight, Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, The Punisher and Captain Commando, and couldn't get enough of Strider, 1943, Commando and all the other classic arcade games with their name attached. It was due to Capcom (and also Konami and Taito) that I started to become very interested in who developed a game, with any new title by my favourite companies going straight to the top of my Christmas list. Classics like Mega Man 2, Bionic Commando and Duck Tales (as well as all their other Disney games) on Nintendo's NES console only served to cement Capcom as my favourite developer.

The first Capcom coin-op I ever played

Then Street Fighter 2 arrived in 1992 and I was a fan for life, purchasing pretty much every single Street Fighter game for various systems over the years. As I grew older I became much less of a 'fanboy', but the developers who I grew up with in my 16-bit and 32-bit years would always hold a special place in my heart. Konami and Taito have, unfortunately, slipped off the radar slightly, with the former apparently concentrating on arcade dance machines, and the later releasing rehashes of Puzzle Bobble, but Capcom are still with us, released many new titles, as well as HD updates of their classics for the modern download services. Things couldn't be better, right? Well, no.

Christmas 1992 was a good day!

Change is in the air

Capcom have had a rough ride this generation. Over-pricing and shady DLC practices, coupled with the arrogant and defiant press releases that follow have led to them alienating and angering their fans. Disappointing 'by-the-numbers' sequels to their best known franchises have also lead to a widespread Meh! with each new release. 

Resident Evil 6 was one of the many recent sequels that failed to live up to their former glories.

A two-fingered salute to the fans

Capcom almost seem to hold their fans in contempt, and also seem to believe that their games are worth more than their competitors - something that has actually been going on since Street Fighter 2 on SNES was released with a £60 price tag back in 1992 - with HD updates of their old 2D fighters retailing at 1200 - 1600 points (£9.99 - £13.49), rather than the 800 points (£6.75) their competitors at SNK charge for equally excellent games such as Garou : Mark of Wolves. While games like Marvel vs Capcom 2, Darkstalkers Resurrection, and JoJo's Bizarre Adventures are still as enjoyable as ever, the addition of an HD graphics filter to smooth the pixels, and online play, do not justify the large price tags. 

The excellent Darkstalkers Resurrection on XBLA - worth the price.. just!

Roll up, roll up. Get your additional costumes here

High entry cost aside, it is great that these classics are brought to a new audience, and I have purchased Street Fighter 3, Darkstalkers Resurrection and Marvel vs Capcom 2 via XBLA. These titles have given me a great deal of enjoyment - as long as I stay offline and avoid the humiliation of being consistently owned by every opponent. I really want to buy JoJo's Bizarre Adventure too, but I am not sure I can bring myself to pay the huge asking price for it.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (XBLA) - Fantastic game, but obscenely over-priced!

What I really cannot abide by, however, is the sickening DLC practices continually employed by Capcom. It started with all the costumes, gems and other superfluous nonsense for Street Fighter IV, and Street Fighter X Tekken being made available to buy separately. This didn't really annoy me that much, as I couldn't give a shit about extra hats and scarves for my characters. Street Fighter X Tekken seemed especially extreme, with bundles of new costumes costing more than a new game itself. 1600 points for some different coloured coats and boots? Fuck off! Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 took the piss too, with an Ultimate Edition coming out a year later - after fans were lead to believe this not to be the case, and even then Capcom kept two characters as separate DLC purchases.

Ultimate MvsC 3 adds loads of new characters, except Jill and Shuma Gorath, 
who you have to pay extra for. Sigh!

Retro fans receive a slap round the face

Then Capcom Arcade Cabinet came out, and I was very disappointed to see that the games were being bizarrely released in bundles of three - inevitably, and quite deliberately, with one decent game matched with two far less appealing titles. We were told that all the games would be released as a bundle at a lower cost, but this would not occur for many months. Why were we being penalised for wanting to purchase the whole product in one go? It was simply that Capcom wanted to milk their biggest fans for the highest cost, before letting everyone else come in at a lower price point. This is when I really started to question what Capcom were playing at. I did indeed purchase the whole bundle for 2000 points, only to find that less than three weeks later, it would be reduced to half that price in a sale. Doh!

How much!?

I have recently gotten back into 2D fighters in a big way, so have been rinsing Super Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter X Tekken every day - both will appear in my forthcoming 'Top 10 2D Fighters' article. I even (foolishly) spent an extra £10 to upgrade SSFIV to the Arcade edition, only to get a measly 4 new characters. Never again. Then a few days ago I noticed that there were some new faces in the SFxT roster - slightly greyed out, and unavailable for selection - including some of my favourite Street Fighter characters, Blanka, Elena and Dudley. My inner Capcom fanboy sudden got extremely excited again, and I immediately rushed to the Xbox live store to see if these additional characters were available to buy. They were! Amazing. Then I noticed the price. 1600 points. £13.49. WTF?

12 new characters are added to an already sizable roster of fighters

On-Disc DLC

I went online to do some research. Surely, there would be more than just 12 characters for my money? Well no, there wasn't. I almost, almost, went for it - after all, if it gave me hours more enjoyment on a game I adore, then it could be worth it. Then I noticed the kerfuffle online, something about on-disc DLC, and I was genuinely shocked and disgusted to discover that this wasn't new content developed for fans, but part of the game that has always been on the disc that we purchased. Capcom actually produced a game, locked some of the content, sold it to us, and then later told us we would have to pay more money to access the locked material. I don't know about you, but I find that absolutely disgraceful. What happened to the days of earning new characters by beating the game, or discovering a cheat in a magazine that would unlock secret levels and playable characters? Don't get me wrong, I totally understand DLC - it offers more longevity to an existing game you love for a small price - but to block content included in a finished product, only to expect people to pay, the not inconsiderable, amount of £13.49 for it later (actually more than the full game costs on Amazon now) is complete reprehensible.

Ooh! A panda costume. You want it? Then pay up!

Not a chance Capcom

I really wanted to add those characters to my Street Fighter X Tekken roster, and may have even considered doing so had I not found out it was on-disc (fairly obvious when you see the DLC download size is 108Kb), but there is absolutely no way I will support this kind of business practice. Capcom tried to defend their actions by stating it was to save hard drive space and for compatibility reasons - making it easier to play online against those who did not wish to purchase the additional characters - but this simply does not wash with me. 

Psst! Wanna buy some DLC?

You lose! 

I also see that another edition of Street Fighter 4 is coming out in the new year. Dubbed, Ultra Street Fighter 4, it will include all of the previously released DLC and new characters in the shape of Hugo, Poison, Elena and Rolento, with a fifth to be announced soon. Not really that exciting, seeing as those characters are from Street Fighter X Tekken. Why couldn't they have produced some brand new characters - maybe more from Final Fight, or other Capcom brawlers like Captain Commando (How cool would Jack The Knife be!?). They even have the fucking audacity to offer pre-order exclusive costumes, meaning anyone who doesn't sign up early misses out on more content - defeating the point of an ULTRA version of the game.

Come on you bastards! Pre-order now, or we won't give you four additional costumes!

Being a huge fan of the game, as well as a complete mug, I will most certainly be picking up my copy when it comes out, just to have the definitive Street Fighter 4 experience. But after that. I'm done (honest). After my OCD tendencies have forced to to get hold of Ultra Street Fighter 4, Capco will have lost me - a loyal customer and fan of over 20 years - for good. They wonder why their finances are in trouble, yet belligerently refuse to lower their prices or change their appalling DLC practices. Capcom are clearly the architects of their own demise, but are blinded by their own hype and past successes to such a degree that they cannot see it - choosing instead to blame the customers they clearly hold so little regard for. In press statements, the top brass at Capcom have even stated that they intend to further pursue the business model of DLC and micro-transactions. So, I fear, it is only going to get worse, before it gets any better.

Yeah, Yeah! You'll be back for more. You can't resist our games. Cough up foolish nerds!

Fingers crossed

I sincerely hope they do get their act together, as it would sadden me to see them disappear after such wonderful contributions to the world of video games. You cannot deny that Capcom make some damn fine games, and are the undisputed masters of the 2D fighter, but they are also capable of making some extremely poor design decisions that end up ruining games that had the potential to be great. Worse, however, is their battered reputation. If they cannot change, then I fear that Capcom's days could be numbered, and they will not be missed. Hopefully they will use this switch in console generations to reassess their business practices and concentrate on producing excellent and innovative titles, as well as more HD updates of their older IP (fingers crossed that the new Strider reboot won't disappoint), and offering them at fair and competitive prices. Lose the ego and the fucking awful on-disc DLC nonsense Capcom and I am sure you will be fine. I am looking forward to holding you in the same high regard I did before.