Capcom’s next installment in the popular Street Fighter franchise is expected to arrive early next year. As is common these days, the developer and publisher will offer a wealth of post-launch downloadable content (DLC) to give Street Fighter V fans a reason to keep playing after the newness of the game wears off.
DLC is considered by many to be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it introduces additional gameplay elements like new characters, maps and weapons to keep the action fresh. Over the years, however, developers have exploited the spirit of DLC, tarnishing its reputation and leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many.
DLC’s lineage can be traced back to user-created PC game mods. A number of PC games developed sizable modding communities, something that game makers took note of. Soon enough, we started seeing official DLC emerge – much of which was offered for a fee.
I wouldn’t classify DLC as “evil” but like a lot of people, I do believe it has had an overall negative impact on the industry. Many contend that developers intentionally leave content out of their games with the intent of later selling it as DLC.
Fortunately, this won't be as big of a concern for Street Fighter V buyers.
Capcom has revealed that it is taking a new service-based approach with regards to post-launch content for Street Fighter V. It’ll be the first iteration in the franchise in which players can earn all gameplay-related DLC for free simply by playing the game.
In a blog post announcing the strategy, Capcom said the initial release is the only disc you will ever need to own. Furthermore, all balance and system adjustments will be available for free.
The company added that it plans to make new characters available on a continuous basis instead of bundling DLC into large packages that are released years apart. Along with making the DLC earnable for free, Capcom believes a constant trickle of new DLC will prevent the fan base from getting split up while simultaneously keeping the competitive environment from becoming stale.
While it’s refreshing to see a company offer its DLC for free, the program is still a bit flawed in my opinion.
Gamers will be able to unlock DLC in one of two ways. Players will earn Fight Money as they play the game. Once they accumulate enough Fight Money, it can be used to purchase post-launch content like new characters.
Where the model falls short is option number two. Zenny is a premium currency that is purchased with real money. If you’re willing to pay up, you can have access to post-launch content without having to wait and “earn” it.
As I said, the model is already flawed but what will be interesting to see is just how much play time / online matches won / matches fought will be required to earn, say, one new character. If it requires an absurd amount of time, I imagine that few will opt for the free DLC route.
Even diehard Street Fighter fans that would eventually earn enough Fight Money to unlock a character probably aren’t going to want to wait weeks / months / however long it takes while everyone else is just buying new characters the moment they become available.