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The controversy of BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle's DLC announcement - Why is doubling the roster post-launch being seen as a bad thing?

BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle has gotten into some hot water, and this will help you understand why

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • January 17, 2018 at 7:45 p.m. PST • Comments: 233

Last week after the ArcSys Fighting Game Awards, the release date and full 20 character launch roster for BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle was announced.

While this is normally something to celebrate and be happy about, there was a very dark cloud hovering above this announcement as well.

The trailer shown was for the character Blake Belladona from RWBY, and that she'll be joining the battle... as DLC after release.

Not only that, but it was also announced that the roster would be doubled post-release, eventually going from the 20 characters in the base roster to a large 40 character roster.

So what's the controversy here? A lot of people will think it's obvious, but in case you don't, look no further than right below for some more insight into what's causing such a ruckus across the internet.

Downloadable content, or DLC, is a pretty controversial subject in gaming. The point of it is to extend a game's lifespan by delivering additional content to the game after its launch, to keep players engaged.

While that sounds like a pretty neat thing, the unfortunate reality is that many games end up taking advantage of their consumers, by withholding already completed content from the initial release and locking it behind a paywall, essentially forcing consumers to pay full price for an incomplete product, and then being asked for more money later on to unlock the full experience.

In fighting games, the by far most famous and egregious example of this was back in 2012, when it was discovered that 12 characters that were eventually added as DLC to Capcom's Street Fighter X Tekken were already fully functional, and in fact even on the game's disc, but locked out from consumers behind a paywall.

Since then, no scandals of the same magnitude have surfaced, although a recurring theme that has soured players on DLC is it being announced before a game's release. Just in recent memory, we've been told by developers about Season Passes and Character Packs and all sorts of things ahead of release for Injustice 2, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite and most recently Dragon Ball FighterZ.

That's enough out of you, Capcom.

Although DLC is something that is often being mishandled by developers, it's an unfortunate reality for anyone who does not like it that as long as it keeps selling, which it clearly does, it is not going to go away, so this practice is simply something everyone will have to get used to, and the best we can hope for is that companies improve their way of going about DLC.

Unfortunately, although Arc System Works have done a stellar job in the past with their games, although they might be a bit too re-release heavy at times, they don't seem to have gotten the DLC memo for their upcoming title BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle.

There are a lot of missteps in their approach to DLC, based on what we can see so far, and it's no surprise that consumers are reacting with frustration.

This actually relates back to an article I wrote a few months back about the DLC practices of companies, and how they should be kept fair for both consumers and the game development companies behind the projects.

In my previous piece, I listed several things companies should ideally try to avoid if they want their playerbase to feel fairly treated and satisfied when purchasing DLC.

The very first point I brought up and tried to hammer home was that for consumers to not feel duped, which is the worst thing you can make them feel, you need to produce the content post-launch, or at the very least make it seem like you have. It's business, we can't always get what we want, but at least market it in a way that players feel like you care.

Announcing that there will be 20 DLC characters and showing gameplay footage of one of them 6 months ahead of the game's release is a perfect example of how to do the complete opposite of that.

The following point I articulated back in November is that it's important for players to not feel that the core game, which they are paying full price for, has been cheapened, but rather that the DLC enhances an already complete game.

From the company's perspective, it's going to be hard to argue this, because while this is an interesting crossover concept between 3 fighting game series, and newly added RWBY franchise characters, it's hard to ignore the fact that 90% of the launch roster consists of characters that have effectively been copypasted from their respective franchise.

The value of blending popular franchises cannot be understated, but you still need to put in work for your fans.

Crossovers are always fun, and seeing your favorite fighters engage with eachother in new ways is interesting, but the novelty can only go so far. With a roster that only has 2 new characters, Ruby and Weiss from RWBY, and a promise of doubling the roster via DLC, it's not hard to get uneasy about the game itself.

Another worrying factor is that when you look at the DLC, it's highly likely that much of that will be brought over from the previous games as well. If you're getting charged premium rates after already having bought the game for franchise veterans like Bang, Carmine or Naoto, it's bound to leave a sour aftertaste.

To be clear, doubling a game's roster via DLC is definitely not a bad thing at its core. It's great to engage players and bring them more of their favorites as time goes on.

However, the handling of it has been abysmal. If Arc System Works want to keep DLC as a cornerstone for their fighting games moving forward, they need to be much smarter in how to go about it.

DLC is a tricky subject, and one we aren't going to be rid of in the near future, but it's important as consumers to take a stand against dishonest practices.

Hopefully Arc System Works put out an amazing game that makes it feel worth it at launch, and the DLC ends up only enhancing the game further. Even if this ideal scenario occurs, though, let's try from now on to not announce any DLC half a year before the game is even out, okay?

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