What’s old is new again…again

There’s a lot of grumbling out there about pricing schemes for downloadable content, some of which is perfectly justified. No one wants to pay extra to unlock content on a disc they already own, for example, and can be frustrating to feel like game companies are squeezing you for money by splitting their product into tiny installments. So, to be honest, I was a bit irritated when I heard about the DLC for Mega Man 9, which seemed to do just that. I’d buy the Proto Man Mode, the extra stage, and Endless Mode, but there was no way I would pay for the extra difficult Hero and Super Hero Modes.

At least, that’s what I told myself until I realized the new difficulty levels were only 100 Wii Points each.

[[image:cg_megaman9.jpg:It’s getting a little crowded in here.:center:0]]
At this point, I’ve downloaded all the extra content for this game, and I regret none of it. Not only that, but the higher challenge modes have far exceeded all my expectations. As you can see in the screenshot above, the difficulty is increased by flooding the screen with enemies and changing their placement to be more imposing, not simply making Mega Man weaker or making enemies more resistant to your attacks. Instead of just making the game tedious by adjusting damage values, Capcom took the time to rethink how the levels actually play.

So far, Hero Mode has kept me on my toes, letting me experience these stages again as if I were playing them for the first time; the revisions seem designed explicitly to trick overconfident players into making stupid mistakes. The first time I fell into a bottomless pit because the timing on a disappearing block puzzle had been slightly adjusted, I couldn’t help but smile. It never feels cruelly difficult, but it’s been altered just enough to force me out of relying on old patterns.

Even harder versions of Mega Man 9 definitely aren’t for everyone, but I think 100 Wii Points is a pretty great deal for making this game feel new again.

16 thoughts on “What’s old is new again…again

  1. The initial download was the complete game.

    Most people will have no desire to use any of the DLC that is offered (which is essentially extra difficult modes).

    Had they not offered the content as DLC they would’ve included that content in the original purchase…and they *still* would’ve charged you for it…even if you had no desire to use that additional content. The game’s purchase price would be more expensive than $10.

    With the DLC you can get the entire game (again, you get the entire core experience with the initial purchase) for a cheaper price and then decide for yourself whether or not the extra modes are worth your hard-earned cash. This is better than being forced to buy a more expensive “total package” with the additional modes, most of which will never be used anyone other than the most hardcore of Mega Man fans.

  2. It’s a tricky call to make. I recognize that the fees involved are so minute – $1 here, $2 there – which when combined with the original low, low price of $10, makes all of this griping sound like pointless belly-aching. But I can’t help but worry about the precedent this sets. When I first heard about the “downloadble content” concept, I thought it was meant for patches to fix bugs and upgrades to customers who bought the original product. But now I see that everything they’re offering to sell as DLC would have been expected as normal inclusions in the past. These aren’t enhancements coming down the road to reinvigorate interest in an old game, these are clearly being developed in unison with the original software and then being transparently packaged separately. What if a developer decides to sell new Achievements or Trophies, or access to online play or user-generated content?

    Maybe it’s irresponsible to look at this and imagine a forthcoming nickel & dime apocalypse, and maybe anyone who attempts these kinds of rip-off tactics will be soundly rejected by the marketplace. But in a world where Xbox charges a subscription fee for what PSN users get for free, the Wii Internet Channel goes from free to fee-based on a whim, and new themes on my PS3 now cost money even when they are clearly marketing tools for their software (that is, I’d be paying for a BioShock ad on my own screen), I feel like there’s nothing video game consumers won’t pay extra for. That’s not the message I want Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo to hear.

  3. the person above me said exactly what i came to say whenever anyone bitches about how they did mega man 9. not that you were, the way most people do.

    Capcom would not have released Mega Man 9 with all of the DLC it’s gotten for $10. it would have gone for $20. thus, for the many people i know who haven’t even gotten past three stages on normal, they didn’t get ripped off.

    i, for one, would be more than happy to pay $10-15 less for a game that lacks its multiplayer component. depending on the game, of course.

  4. “But now I see that everything they’re offering to sell as DLC would have been expected as normal inclusions in the past.”

    Please. Quite apart from hinging the argument on something we simply can’t speculate about (would we have ever seen Endless Mode? even on a $50 Mega Man 9?) expansion packs are basically just bundled DLC in every way that matters – they’re packages designed to raise interest in a game consigned to the dustbin of history, and justify extra development time on it.

    I am ambivalent about the “unlocking content on the disc” argument as well – it was well-know in World of Warcraft circles that the Caverns of Time were in the game files well before those dungeons were released as an expansion. Doesn’t mean they were done. And the extra difficulties for Mega Man 9 are relatively small, but transformative. It’s hard to say how big the “content” has to be in order to be usable, given that in most modern games the “content”, by megabyte, is overwhelmingly graphics and sound.

  5. OK. Regardless of how you feel one way or another about DLC in general, I don’t see how you can make the argument that Game X would have had a higher price tag if the DLC for it was initially available. That logic simply doesn’t hold up. The production costs on any downloadable content I think we can safely label as non-existent. No discs are being pressed, no packaging is being assembled, and I don’t think the bandwidth usage to send a tiny little file which in many cases just contains something along the lines of “purchased=true” is going to hurt anyone.

    The only cost a given company has to deal with to create their extra DLC is the labor cost, which is a one-time thing, and exactly the same regardless of whether anyone kicks in for it, and even then, we’re generally talking about something as simple as an extra skin for a character model, or an extra map file, or even less. So the cost here is negligible too.

    Even if it weren’t, that’s not going to influence the final price of the game. That’s a marketing based decision. MM9 for instance costs $10 because someone estimated that $10 times the number of people who would pay $10 for it would come out as more money than $15 times the number of people willing to pay $15. Development costs don’t factor into this.

    So, with DLC, basically, it goes like this. The game is produced. Someone says hmm… is there anything we can do to entice that group of people willing to pay significantly more than the asking price toss us some extra cash, but not alienate the more casual buyers? Then someone else goes “what about a play-as-a-different-character mode?” or “what about an extra hard remix difficulty?” or “what about putting the token female character in a bikini the whole time?”

    Now, the case can be made that the greed involved here causes more such content to be created in the first place, which I’m sure is true. The case can also be made that before the days of DLC, these little extras for the hardcore were still being included in games for free, typically as little bonuses for finishing the game, to enhance later playthroughs, which is also true.

    I’m against them personally, but then I’m also running my own game publishing company which is in massive debt because my prices ARE being jacked up by including the shiny bits of extra awesome in ever copy of the game. If I had it to do over again, I might be tempted to break things up and drop the base price to squeeze a few people for extra cash. On the gripping hand though, again, manufacturing costs aren’t a factor with DLC.

  6. you say it doesn’t stand up to logic. and perhaps on a common scale, that would be correct. but the difficulty settings of such as mega man 9 are worth more than a dollar in terms of dev costs. they’re actually well-thought out.

    further, although i cannot find the exact quote, i do recall a quote of some kind stating exactly what i did- mega man 9 was intended to be as expensive as such as braid or castle crashers. ie, not $10, more like $20*. they didn’t do that, presumably in order to drive its penetration rate and furthermore to drive brand loyalty. it’s one of those marketing things no one seems to understand.

    EASIEST ARGUABLE SECTION: as far as post-release development is concerned price wise, perhaps you are unfamiliar with the good ol’ days of game dev where a japanese title would often be refined for the Americas; not just in text but also in terms of bug fixery. Mega Man 9 (especially with Proto Man as a response to fanboy shit) could be seen in the same light in some ways. Although we “didn’t” pay more for it, it would have been paid for at that specific period of time via the exchange rates of the era (for a Japanese company). now that is no longer the case, so we pay now. as i said, this is easily debatable, but think of the pure concept of the matter as well.

    *note that this was also before DLC was even announced for the game.

  7. If nothing else it gives you something to do with those 100-200 Wii points you have left over from other purchases.

  8. I’m still surprised that the same people who have bitched about this since the game’s release have no problem plunking down cash to download new Rock Band tracks. Isn’t it essentially the same thing?

  9. Here’s my take on it (and sorry if some of you have already posted this but damn those are some big posts): When I bought Megaman9, I got a full mega man game, compared to any of the classic mega mans. Absolutely no less. No one is forcing me to buy these extra modes, and they aren’t neccesary for having a fun megaman experience.

  10. Josh – I kind of have a problem with it because I can’t determine what was already finished and help back to put up as DLC, and what wasn’t. Rock Band tracks have been a bare minimum of three per week FOR A YEAR, so I know it’s a “we’re keeping you interested in this game” thing, not a “we’re nickel and diming you to death” thing.

    As it stands, the added value of this stuff is pretty good for someone that wants more MM9, but again, the perception (all this, in less than a month?) kind of irks me.

  11. While I don’t like being nickel & dimed as much as the next guy… Ala Vader SC4… None of this content for Mega Man 9 interests me even in the slightest… maybe that Extra Level mode but nothing else… Proto Man? Psh! Like I’d ruin my MM9 experience with MM3 turds. ;)

  12. @ Calorie Mate
    I admit that announcing all this DLC a week before the game’s release probably wasn’t the best move. So if Capcom started releasing this content, like say, one DLC per month a couple of months after release, it would be a better idea?

  13. If you truly believe that Capcom couldn’t have offered this dlc with the game and keep the price at ten dollars, you are kidding yourself. I would love to see what this game cost to make. In terms of overall development cost vs the revenue its generated, I’m sure MM9 is one of if not the most profitable game released this year. That Capcom is trying to bleed out more money from its customers by announcing this nickel and dime dlc before the game was even released is a joke.

    I think that would have been a much better idea. If you want to leach a few extra dollars from me, I’d appreciate it if you’d at least put on a show for me instead of coming straight out and assuming that I’ll be impressed by the extra garbage I’ll someday be given the privilege of paying you for.

  14. I was really satisfied with the extra difficulty modes in this game overall, but I have to say that I was quite disappointed with the Wiley stages in Hero Mode. The first two levels aren’t much harder than the previous one – they add enemies where there were none, but not in challenging locations. The third level was not hard: it was cheap. You’ll know what I mean when you get to the second no-gravity room there.

    Superhero Mode was much more satisfying, overall. The Wiley stages, in particular, were an epic crawl as I was forced to use special weapons so much that I was on the verge of running out at all times. These were just great.

    It was sad that the bosses were not harder, though. I know in ROM hacking communities, hackers add infinitely generating monsters to boss rooms to spice things up: I was expecting something like this here. They did it with the elephant minibosses in Concrete Man’s stage, if you need an example.

    I think downloadable content in MM9 was a big success, though it seems the game was built with specific downloadable modes in mind. This seems like a mistake to me, as it looks like they can’t add any more now that they’ve run out of preplanned material. It’s a shame.

  15. @PeterH: I just don’t understand the mindset that they’re leaching more money from us. Or ripping us off. First off, the game they gave us for ten bucks is nothing less than what we got when we spent say, fourty to fifty on MegaMan2.

    Then they give us the option to buy some new swag to increase the replay value (not that the game doesn’t already have that in classic-megaman-spades). No one’s arm is being twisted here, the game they gave us is more than complete. This is far more than could’ve been expected back in the Nintendo days, no?

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