Tekken Tag 2 a model of how to handle DLC

Free post-launch characters for Namco Bandai's fighting game respects customers even as they discourage second-hand game sales.

Earlier today, Namco Bandai announced its first wave of downloadable content for Tekken Tag Tournament 2 in the form of four additional characters: Kunimitsu, Ancient Ogre, Michelle, and Angel. In keeping with Tekken series producer Katsuhiro Harada's promise to never charge for extra characters, the quartet--as well as all future Tekken Tag 2 DLC fighters--will be available free of charge.

Kunimitsu is just one of four free DLC fighters confirmed for Tekken Tag Tournament 2, with more on the way.

This marks a refreshing change of approach for Namco Bandai, which has an impeccable track record when it comes to ticking off customers with its DLC. The publisher sold a stripped down DLC-driven version of Ridge Racer for the PlayStation Vita with just five cars and three courses in the core game. It let players pay for level-ups and gold in Tales of Vesperia. It sold Soulcalibur IV with Darth Vader and Yoda on every disc, but charged gamers $5 to unlock one of them depending on which platform they'd purchased the game on.

What Namco Bandai apparently figured out, and what I wish more publishers would realize, is that excessively opportunistic DLC plans may boost revenues in the short term, but inevitably burn through whatever good will a brand has acquired. On the other hand, free DLC works not because it's giving away something for nothing, but because it's treating gamers as a customer to be respected rather than a resource to be exploited.

The trend this generation has been for publishers to use downloadable content to do two things: discourage used game sales, and increase the average revenue per user. The former task is accomplished by giving players new content to look forward to and a reason to hold onto their games rather than sell them back to stores like GameStop. The latter task is accomplished by charging people for the DLC, pushing the total purchase price for the complete experience above the game's full retail cost.

Marketing campaigns have some people so irrationally excited for a game that they're willing to pay more than $60, and this generation has been one long exploration into how much more.

Publishers have seen that their marketing campaigns have some people so irrationally excited for a game that they're willing to pay more than $60, and this generation has been one long exploration into how much more. That's why we see $150 collector's editions, costume bundles, map packs, downloadable costume colors, character progression unlocks, challenge modes, premium subscription services, real-money auction houses (and the anti-consumer always-on DRM that makes such a thing possible), online passes, Xbox Avatar and PlayStation Home items, and toys that interact with games. For every customer and every game, there's a magic number of dollars and cents that they can be convinced to part with, and publishers are doing everything they can to extract that exact amount from gamers, right down to the last dime.

Almost of all of these services, add-ons, or incentives would be fine, if they were implemented with a modicum of respect for the consumer. But they're often combined with one another such that the publisher comes off as a stereotypically sleazy car salesman trying to hard sell a bunch of crap people don't need, extracting money from customers in every way possible. Instead of creating DLC just for the extra revenue, or creating DLC just to keep people from trading a game in, they do both. They make DLC designed to thwart second-hand sales, and then they charge money for it even though it's already serving their interests by keeping the shelves of GameStop from being flooded with used copies.

When publishers charge for DLC that has an unstated goal like stifling second-hand sales, it comes across as disingenuous, manipulative, and disrespectful.

If these same companies would instead just focus on one thing they wanted to do, and did it with a proper amount of care and effort, they would find themselves facing much less anger and resentment from their core audiences. Take Rock Band, for example. Harmonix's rhythm game franchise has more than 3,700 songs available for download. If you want to talk about maximizing the potential average revenue per user, this one's in a class of its own. But at the same time, Rock Band manages to respect the customer in a way few other games have done. The transaction here is always simple, a song or group of songs for a set price. Harmonix gets my $2, and I get to belt out Queen's "Bicycle Race" naked in my apartment at three in the morning. It's a win-win.

And while the Rock Band DLC might discourage used game sales in that you've invested more money in the game and have more reason to hold onto it, that's clearly wasn't the point of the DLC. On the other hand, when a company ships a game with completed DLC locked away on the disc and releases it on a schedule over the course of several months, thwarting trade-ins is a much more transparent motivation.

This gets to a question of being honest with customers. When publishers charge for DLC, their motivation is honest because it's obvious: money. When they don't charge for DLC, their motivation is less relevant, because the customer isn't sacrificing anything to get the content. But when publishers charge for DLC that has an unstated goal like stifling second-hand sales, it comes across as disingenuous, manipulative, and disrespectful.

For Tekken Tag Tournament 2, it appears that Namco Bandai actually gets that, and is being honest with and respectful of its customer base. Now all we need to do is return the favor, and tell them unequivocally that this is the way gamers should be treated.

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Discussion

108 comments
RedboyM
RedboyM

I agree with everything said in this article. Period.

 

Post Scriptum: Good on you, Namco Bandai, well done, remember this my friends, I'll get Tekken Tag Tournament 2 for Christmas, because I enjoy Tekken, and may I say how happy I am with your friendly gifts, we'll repay you, I promise. Can't wait for the next batch of free-DLC, TTT2, the game that don't stop giving, here's to the next ten years!

derceto
derceto

Although this is certainly a step in a better direction.   This whole "online" age has only opened doors for these companies to make you think you're getting something extra, when you're actually getting nothing extra.   I love Tekken, I love TTT2 even.  I've boughten every single one, and this is a rare occasion where the DLC isn't terribly bad.  For the better part, DLC has been the bane of gaming this generation of consoles.   Had this game or any other "DLC" based games come out last gen, people would have gotten the "complete" game on day one.   Though it's nice that all this DLC will be free, it was completed during their alloted production time for TTT2.  It's part of the complete game in essence, yet, they dangle these things over our heads to make us think we are getting something "free".   All these characters they are releasing are staples of the Tekken series, and really, I couldn't have imagined this compilation game being released without them.   Was there no option for DLC, the full game would have been sold complete on the disc.   Sadly.   This is what the industry has become and it will yet get worse.  I think the better part of my gaming future will reside in the "retro" section.  I'm not terribly sure how much more of these "deals" I can stomach.

TroyTrojanGamer
TroyTrojanGamer

I may buy this just because they are doing the right thing.  DLC honestly sapped away the enjoyment from many fighters like Mortal Kombat.

Gameismylife530
Gameismylife530

In my country if i pre order tekken tag 2 i will only get standard edition of the game, will i ever get snoop doggs stage, bikini bundle in the future

Rsoub
Rsoub

imagine how can ne funny bikini dlc in snow map

eetz
eetz

Katsuhiro Harada is the best!!!!  :D

Dragoonfou
Dragoonfou

yea that's my Harada!, However i do know capcom has that type of issue when it comes to DLC

Virtua_Souls
Virtua_Souls

Too bad that the DLC characters are pre-order exclusives for a while though (at least in europe. so far). I understand why they're doing that, but still some people will have the characters, some won't. I wonder how long it'll be until everyone gets them?

soulless4now
soulless4now

I was sold at seeing the words "free characters." I'm starting to like Namco Bandai again. 

istuffedsunny
istuffedsunny

This is a good example to follow, but no one will follow it. DLC will only get worse and publishers have only themselves to blame when people turn to piracy because of it. The last game I bought was FF13, years ago, because they promised no DLC. I've yet to play FF13-2 with it's $100 worth of DLC.

GreenBronco
GreenBronco

KUDOS Namco Bandai, I have much respect for you for choosing this path. Hopefully this decision will reflect good sales for this game and future titles from other companies will follow your example.

shovel238
shovel238

DLC is horrible, but what I find worse is the ``Upgraded`` versions of almost all fighting games. It`s the EXACT same game with a couple more maps or characters, and maybe one ore gameplay element. Mortal Kombat: Komplete Edition is one of the worst examples, and it is one of the mos annoying things ever.

PhattyWilkoman
PhattyWilkoman

It appears that all developers are going through a lot of pain at the moment trying to get return on investment and appear not to have taken into account the consumer (and their ability to rant endlessly on the internet) this is true right across the board from MMO's and retail console games. Fair play to Namco for actually realising that gamers arent stupid and will not buy content for no reason.

DrBhup
DrBhup

So true, so true!

 

Just look at how Crapcom is struggling with the sales of Streetfighter x Tekken. They had to come up with all kind of excuses for the poor sales.

 

That company takes the cake in exploiting their loyal fanbase. First they release an incomplete, unbalanced, bugged game (StreetFighter IV, Marvel vs Capcom3). About half year later you have another updated version of that same game (Super StreetFighter IV, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3) with a few more costumes, stages, music or whatever and you have to buy the same game all over again!!

 

If that wasn't enough they continue to make new versions of the game (Super Streetfighter IV Arcade Edition) and they continue to take money for DLC such as new costume-packs, stages, modes, characters and so on.

 

Now finally people have had enough. I will never buy a Capcom title again and more and more people are thinking the same way! It topped off after we busted them trying to sell us characters that were already on the disc in SF x T. What other purpose than milking the consumers and making a few more bucks was it to do such a thing??

 

I'm glad SF x T didin't sell well. Hope they learned their lesson. I'll be buying TTT2 on day 1 of release! No question about it! 

catoblepas
catoblepas

Great article, hopefully other publishers can start seeing how blind their greed is making them, as long as they're not completely blind theres still hope for the gaming industry.

rey2
rey2

Getting 100% completed content on games purchased.   Those days are over.

 

I appreciate the honesty on DLC issue.  If only most gaming companies have been truthful with it to begin with.  Most of them did was give us the circus treatment all the time whenever a hyped game comes out.  The disrespectful part comes thinking that we are suckers to support their products to death.  It doesn't work that way obviously when we start holding back our wallets back from them.

ShadowOfKratos
ShadowOfKratos

To those saying that DLC games are NOT a big deal...

 

It is a big deal in some country. Mine for instance has ISPs that charge not only the speed and monthly fee, but the preset amount of download size. Example: 1GB/month = $40 (I sh** you not) (1GB recharge for the unfinished month is $30)

 

Now imagine if I'm a DLC freakazoid and need to download 20GB/month on a regular basis. Do your maths and you'll see if DLC is a big deal or not in some countries.

 

Some of you should consider yourselves lucky to afford being ignorant.

GameSharpLad
GameSharpLad

Well said sir! - I couldn't say it better myself.

If Namco get that then i'll trust my money to them, no problem.

And Capcom may also have good games...but they left a 'bad taste in my mouth' and i don't think i'll trust them anytime soon.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

Good to see Namco Bandai getting back to customer satisfaction. I remember that DLC for Ridge Racer 7 was some of the first available and it was all free. Hopefully this won't be a one-off example for the publisher.

UndertheArchway
UndertheArchway

While Tekken Tag 2 has already been released in Japan it is not carded for a release in the West till Septemember this year as far as I am aware so rather than making a big song and a dance about "free DLC" just package it with the game.

 

 

Jerome911
Jerome911

Harada what the hell why DLC 

tachsniper
tachsniper

This makes up for the crapfest that was Tekken Blood Vengeance.

Ajheyhey
Ajheyhey

this is why tekken is the best

 

zennmezz
zennmezz

how does this work? we dont have internet in the middle of the desert, when i purchase the game will it include a code that i need to redeem by connecting to xbox live or psn? or is it already included in the game?  just using gprs  on my phone

thebloodytenth
thebloodytenth

Finally somebody gets it...developers want to charge 60$ + additional DLC Costs AND they're wondering why the gaming industry is in the crapper. I don't want to fork over 100+$ just to get the full experience of a game. I just don't get their approach to that matter...game sales are down, so lets make 'em more expensive and less userfriendly by destroying the second hand market

NeoIostars
NeoIostars

chalk up one sell for me then, Harada. Tekken + free DLC = win!

GalvatronType_R
GalvatronType_R

I'm a huge fighting game fan.  Unlike Capcom, whose recent games I have bought secondhand, I will be more than happy to pick up T3/2 brand new.

 

Now please, Harada, improve the graphics.

BSEE10
BSEE10

DLC is not bad this way. Nice Harada

Jmoolah95
Jmoolah95

 @Gameismylife530 Namco Bandai already stated that all of the pre order DLC will eventually be put in the gaming stores, but you will probably have to wait a while. They will still be free though so that's good news.

joshhi
joshhi

@Virtua_Souls free4all after 90 days

Dragoonfou
Dragoonfou

 @shovel238  i agree with you and that would be the street fighter series the most

Dragoonfou
Dragoonfou

 @rey2  capcom took a total of 160 dollars out of my pocket from SF4, MVC3, AND SSF4

joshhi
joshhi

@ShadowOfKratos where do you live? Sounds like the equivalent to hell.

spoonybard-hahs
spoonybard-hahs

 @ShadowOfKratos Again, the tried and true retort for any such an argument: You don't have to buy the DLC.

 

That should really go without saying. If someone is a "DLC freakazoid" on crap data plans such as that, they shouldn't be allowed to make any sort of financial decisions on their own. Does it suck to be cut out of the fun? Hell yes, it does. However having content you paid for held hostage on a disc so a publisher can get all rapey with your wallet is just as bad.

 

Which by the way, in some - if not most - cases, the DLC is only partially on the disc. From Ashes for Mass Effect 3 had part of its resources on its disc and the DLC was still over 600MB.

 

Now, having re-read your comment, It occurs to me that you might be arguing for a discontinuation of all DLC. If that's true then the first part of my argument still stands.

Dragoonfou
Dragoonfou

 @Ajheyhey  i remember tekken 5 that came out it had the tekken history and other game modes features in it with no dlc that was a awesome merchandise and yes best fighting game with a amazing deal agree it's a 10

ExplicitMike
ExplicitMike

 @GalvatronType_R what's wrong with the graphics. It's a great improvement from that awful demo I played in Tekken Hybrid.

ShadowOfKratos
ShadowOfKratos

 @spoonybard-hahs 

It occurs to you wrong. Read it again until it sinks in.

 

I was referring to people that say that it is not a big deal. Those who say so imply that it is ok to release DLC in any way. SF X Tekken for instance had the full DLC content in the disc. Is that ok?

 

I think it's ok to release DLC, as long as it makes sense to do so. Most DLCs do NOT make sense to release, like those that could be in the CD if production is delayed one week.

The ones that make sense and I support are the ones like for GTA and the Elders Scrolls.

 

Now let me re-use the expression "lucky to afford being ignorant" on you pal, because the only data plans available in my country are those crap ones (not much choice to be made here except for not having any internet Einstein).

 

So yes, you are lucky to afford being ignorant.

Dreizel
Dreizel

 @spoonybard-hahs I do agree with you in to a certain extent on the fact that there is DLC that you don't have to buy, because i myself chose not to buy most of DLC since most of it are just a scam to rip off more money from us, nevertheless, you do have a choise.

But when there is DLC that affects the story of the game and if you don't play it then you won't be able to fully experience and understand the story of the game then it is another story, you kind of are forced to buy it since you already invested your time and money on that game and you will probably want to know how it ends and so it arrives that problem, for some, like ShadowOfKratos mentioned.