In 2013 video games are platforms. A new title releases and within months or even mere weeks a wealth of additional content is available for purchase for said title. From characters and costumes to games modes and story campaigns, all kinds of DLC is available for all kinds of games. Except for fighting games, that is. The typical bulk of DLC released for fighting games includes additional colors or costumes. Just ask Tecmo about Dead or Alive 5’s $100+ in add-on costumes.
You’ll see the occasional DLC character here and there (which is greatly shunned by the genre’s competitive fanbase), but for the most part fighting game DLC enables us to play a bit of dress up with the characters and not a terrible amount more. However, things do not have to be this way. A select few fighters have introduced truly meaningful and unique content, and most of the time it’s included right on the game disc. Let me make it abundantly clear that there are far more interesting DLC possibilities for fighting games than costumes and characters.
Single Player Game Modes
Nowadays very few fighters launch with the entire single player suite. In addition to the arcade mode, I like to see a challenge mode, a score attack mode, a survival mode, and a time attack mode. I can hardly think of any new fighter that has launched with all of these modes. New single player modes would make for exciting add-on content. The SoulCalibur series has long been reputed for offering a variety of single player content – until the release of the latest installment SoulCalibur V. The game’s single player pickings are decidedly slim and I understand that development costs can be quite high, so why not sell us our Chronicles of the Sword mode? I’d buy it.
Something like the Tekken Force mode from the Tekken series (say what you like about those modes, I have enjoyed just about all of them), Guilty Gear Isuka’s GG Boost mode or the Blazblue series’ abyss mode (above) would also compel me to open my wallet. Most people who buy fighting games buy them to play with other people, and as a result we end up with more scant single player offerings than you would in games of other genres.
The GG Boost mode could even be played cooperatively, giving it an addictive arcade action game feeling. Cooperative game-play in a fighting game must sound laughable, but me and my mates played that mode for hours trying to clear all of the stages. If something like that was sold as DLC for the next newest Blazblue title, I would buy it in a heartbeat.
Multiplayer Game Modes and Features
Capcom released a free (yes, I said “Capcom” and “free” in the same sentence) tournament mode for Super Street Fighter IV. Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend introduced a fun team battle mode. If the online suite comes with all of the standard goodies, then it is reasonable if extra modes like these are sold as additional content. This is meaningful content that truly adds to the game, giving players more options and ways to play.
Observe the way King of Fighters and Capcom vs SNK 2 allow players to choose three characters and fight with each of them, with the characters recovering only a bit of health in between each round. It seems like it would be fairly straightforward to add a similar mode to any 3D or 2D fighter. The Heroes and Heralds mode (below) in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 allows players to customize their characters with unique skills and abilities. Of course a multiplayer mode like this wouldn’t be ideal for serious competitive play, but it would still be a lot of fun to see how my friends equipped their characters and play some casual matches with them. The specifics seem simple: only players who purchase the modes should be able to enjoy them.
New multiplayer features would also make for some interesting additional content. Tekken Tag Tournament 2’s World Tekken Federation recently shut down. The free service kept track of an insane amount of stats, ranked you with players around the world, connected to social networks, highlighted weaknesses in your game-play and much more. Maintaining that kind of data for hundreds of thousands of players surely got costly at some point and thus the service is now dead.
If players were to pay a small premium for a service like that, then the service could last longer and probably be even better than the free WTF. Memberships could be sold as cheap DLC or in the same way as EA’s Battlefield Premium.
Character Voices and Music
The vast majority of fighting games are developed in Japan. The big budget fighters have English dubs recorded for the characters and the dialogue and more often than not the games have dual audio right there on the disc. This doesn’t have to be the case. Would anyone have a huge problem with paying $1 or so for a character’s Japanese dub? After all, many people find English voice acting to be a joke compared to Japanese voice acting.
Now I’m not advocating for developers to withhold this content precisely to sell it to us separately (although I’m sure if they’d do it anyway if they thought there was much money to be made), but I am saying that I wouldn’t be opposed to it. If they go through all the work of funding an English dub for the game just to satisfy the western market, then that’s really all we’re entitled to unless we buy a Japanese copy of the game. As it stands, in Persona 4: Arena and the Blazblue games, you can choose to use English or Japanese character voices. This is a feature I’m certain several players would pay extra for.
Since we’re on audio, soundtracks or character themes would also make for great DLC. I believe we saw this once with Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition. Most fighting games released these days are part of a series. Take Tekken for example. With six numbered entries and several spin-offs, hundreds of songs have been composed for the Tekken games. It’s unreasonable to think we could have all of this music in one game, but what if we could buy some of the older themes as DLC? I want to hear Xiayou’s theme from Tekken Tag Tournament while I’m playing Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and I will gladly pay for that option.
Even better, this content would allow developers to use assets that they’ve already created – something many developers simply love to do. The costs would surely be quite low, there’s potential for some sort of profit and the players get more options. Everyone wins.
Character Portraits and Unique Taunts
Every fighting game has a character select screen, and the most of these screens use character portraits to represent the characters. This art is usually lovely, but what if we could choose from a selection of portraits? It isn’t as farfetched as it sounds: Tekken Tag Tournament 2 offers exactly that option. You can earn in-game currency and use it to customize the character portraits at the character select screen (check this feature out in the video below).
I think it would be a great idea if more fighters offered this option, but they could profit from it with DLC. Let’s look at the perfect opportunity for this feature: the Blazblue series. The character portraits have been changed between each of the main games. Have a look at Litchi’s portraits from Calamity Trigger, Continuum Shift and Chrono Phantsama. Out of these my favorite is the Continuum Shift portrait and I would happily pay some amount if I could use the same portrait in Chrono Phantasma.
They could even draw up some more portraits and give us a variety to choose from, no different than a PSN avatar. It seems like a small thing and it is, but players being able to be unique and individual, even if it’s with something minor.
Unique character poses and taunts are another possibility. If shooting games can do it, then why can’t fighting games? Maybe you want an even sluttier taunt for Tekken’s Anna or for Dead or Alive’s Ayane to use one of her taunts from the earlier series installments. If there were a variety to choose from, this could be another area where players could be individuals and customize their taunts. Most characters only have around two or three taunts, but how much would it cost to create a few more and then sell them as cheap DLC?
Fighting game players are quite passionate and very serious about the deep combat systems in fighting games. Any DLC released for a fighter should be exclusively for vanity purposes and it should have absolutely no impact on the dynamic of the game-play, but there are still many more options than overpriced costumes and colors. The only DLC I’ve ever bought for a fighting game was Makoto Nanaya for Blazblue: Continuum Shift. That’s it.
If more compelling content like new game modes, remixed character themes, or new character portraits were available, I can say without a doubt that I’d buy a lot more.