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Tekken 7's paid frame data DLC sets an odd precedent but is not worth complaining about

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • October 27, 2019 at 7:41 p.m. PDT • Comments: 186

Game development in the current landscape is a complex and tricky subject to tackle especially from the outside, but there's always limitations going on behind the scenes.

Bandai Namco revealed earlier today that Tekken 7's paid DLC mode in the season pass will add in the highly-requested frame data component missing for multiple years now.

Fans and players quickly came out to criticize the decision to charge money for what many other fighting games include for free or in base releases, and while that sentiment is understandable, much of that displeasure seems at odds with what benefits the game and those still playing it.

Tekken 7 wrapped its major production cycle back in 2017 which means that its post-production budget and staffing almost assuredly largely dropped off and made the developers choose very carefully what would end up in updates and season passes.

It is a bummer in the current climate that Tekken 7 would launch without the option to see frame data in-game, but longtime director and producer, Katsuhiro Harada, originally felt it would too much work for what it would mean for a small percentage of players.

"Tekken is a game [with] 'a lot of animation files per character in the history of video games,'" said Harada on Twitter after he was asked how hard the feature was to implement. "In addition, the number of characters is huge. This is one of the reasons I originally opposed the frame data feature."

Adding brand new features to games post-launch is something that a lot of players want, but is still not something we see all too often in bigger productions due to shifting focuses and lowered financial push.

Games like Street Fighter 5 added frame data and other modes after initially hitting shelves, but that's still a big decision that had to be made within the production staff.

Paying developers, producers and testers takes time, money and other resources that need to be weighed out for what benefits the product as a whole because it is a commercial release made to make Bandai Namco money.

"Now, Tekken 7 will have among some of the best tools in fighting games even discounting the addition of frame data considering it will teach you how to properly punish each character's individual attacks as well as go back over match footage and give players personalized feedback to improve upon."

We can't know for sure since we are not in those production meetings, but Bamco likely stands to make less money off of developing these new features even after charging for them rather than making what everyone gets most excited about: new characters.

Season Pass 3 is only priced at only $5 less than Season Pass 2 despite containing half of the new characters suggesting to me at least that these new modes were probably a little pricier to create post-production than the company was probably hoping.

Creating these new tools was a conscious decision by the developers and one that was listening to player feedback, as to what they believed would make the game better than it already was.

One of the Tekken series' greatest weaknesses was its inability to effectively teach newer players the mechanics and flow of the game from within its included options. This made the need for outside tools and guides a must for those looking to learn.

Now, Tekken 7 will have among some of the best tools in fighting games even discounting the addition of frame data considering it will teach you how to properly punish each character's individual attacks as well as go back over match footage and give players personalized feedback to improve upon.

The game's frame data offerings aren't the best in the business since they will not include some nice features like hitboxes and hurtboxes, but it's still a step in the right direction going into the future with the team.

Hopefully this means future Bandai Namco-developed fighting games will include these offerings from the start where they're easier to work in with standard production, and if it doesn't, then everyone can voice their complaints nice and loudly.

Producer Michael Murray said the frame data DLC will probably cost $3–4 though most players that will likely be taking advantage of the new systems won't be paying anymore than they already did since it's part of the Season 3 Pass.

It does mean that we probably got one or two fewer new characters this year because of those features, but I'd argue the game is better off overall with the current plan than if we got another six-fighter season. These are tools that everyone can take advantage of even if they just want to use the free inclusions.

This idea of including frame data as DLC even dates back to at least 2016 where Harada and Murray said at EVO that year it is not a feature that everyone wants or needs though it does serve a purpose and a crowd.

Of course, it's perfectly fine to be opposed to this practice if you so choose because it is optional. There are still third party apps and programs to help players with frame data freely available to fill that void and some of them even may include more information than the official source.

Separating these modes into paid components is an odd precedent to set, and hopefully it won't be something we face much going forward in the future with new titles. Right now, however, the team had made its stance apparent for years now, and Tekken 7 as it is now will be better for it. Tekken 8 though better have this out of the box.

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