You know, even after beating the secret, ‘true’ ending to Asura’s Wrath, I didn’t feel like I was getting the full game. And I don’t mean because it was too short, or because said ending was really just a huge cliffhanger, but looking back on the story as a whole, it felt like the entire tale hadn’t been told.
Why? Oh, because it hadn’t; there’s another five episodes on the way that Capcom want me to pay for.
Last week, Capcom announced DLC plans for the recently-released title. Out on PSN/XBL now is episode 11.5, bridging the gap between the eleventh and twelfth episodes of the game, which takes a TV show approach to its levels. This coming week sees the release of episode 15.5, providing the same filler service. Neither episode costs all that much – £1.50/160MS points apiece.
That seems acceptable. Cheap DLC for what seems like very optional content.
But towards the end of April, episodes 19, 20, 21 and 22 will be released as a bundle for £5.49/560MS points. According to Capcom, these additional episodes will provide “the true conclusion to Asura’s Wrath.” Ah.
Of course, four episodes bundled together at that price actually works out cheaper per episode than the .5 DLC, but that’s different. That’s harmless, optional content that’s not required to tell the full story. This? This is the definitive ending to a game you’ve already paid for. It’s like walking into a movie and having to pay extra to see the final 30 minutes. Movies don’t do it, books don’t do it, music… sort of does it, and, up until this generation, games didn’t do it either; why should they start now?
But in some ways you can commend Capcom; I can now relate to the relentless anger that the titular character displays throughout the game. No publisher has ever managed to get me as close to feeling exactly like a protagonist as this.
I could let slide charging for more ‘deleted scenes’ or the like. If extra game content that isn’t pivotal to the full picture is there then, okay, I’m not crazy about it, but it’s become the norm of this generation. Said content usually ends up being pretty forgettable anyway.
Publishers putting out questionable premium content is nothing new, but seldom has it left as sour a taste in my mouth as this instance. At the end of the day, I’ve been nothing but a loyal customer. I’ve supported a niche product that didn’t even make the UK’s top 40 chart on launch week, I’ve raved about it to my friends, and I’ve defended its interaction-light gameplay time and time again. And what do I have to show for it? I’ve been cheated out of an ending and asked to get out my wallet again for the full thing.
At the risk of sounding like an overly-sensitive consumer, it actually hurts a bit to be treated like that. It just goes to show that I’m not a valued customer at Capcom, I’m just another dollar sign to exploit. Most publishers see gamers this way of course, but they’re not quite as harshly transparent about it, and let both developers and their games keep a little dignity.
So no, the company isn’t alone in this practice, but this isn’t exactly Capcom’s first offence either; last month the publisher came under fire for its DLC plans for Street Fighter X Tekken. Not only are over ten characters being lined up to come to the fighter, but they’re reportedly all already sitting on the game disc. Buying them on PSN/XBL merely unlocks them.
I’m not enough of a fighting game fan to kick up a storm about this, but I’ve got friends that are and I fully understand their plight. If game content is done and finished, it should be there on the disc, unlocked. Holding back content to charge a little extra for it (to this capacity) is wrong, there isn’t really any other way around it.
What we have in the Asura’s Wrath DLC is the result of a generation’s worth of publishers going unpunished and, if anything, rewarded for taking customers for granted with DLC. If Capcom had gone about this another way, offering an expansion campaign, say, six months down the line instead of a products ‘true conclusion’ just a few weeks later, then I’d be excited for more Asura’s.
Or, heck, why not offer this up as a sort of ‘Online Pass’ for the game? Give some of these episodes away for free to those that were loyal and bought the game, while still providing a source of revenue for a game that’s likely to start coming up cheap in pre-owned stocks pretty soon. But, no, it would seem that having Capcom’s back with Asura’s Wrath gets you nowhere. As it stands, I won’t allow myself to buy into this exploitation.
And that’s a big shame, because Asura’s Wrath was a great game that, in my eyes, has been severely damaged by this unfair and shameful scheme.