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Gaming: Are Capcom Milking Their Games?

Old games?

Old games?

In recent weeks we’ve had news of two re-releases from Capcom, both of 2009 games.  A new Street Fighter IV, incompatible with the old version, will be released next year as Super Street Fighter IV, containing new fighters and gameplay/balance tweaks.  Resident Evil 5 will also be getting a new version next year, adding support for Sony’s upcoming (and still unnamed) PS3 motion controller and containing ‘a brand new campaign’, with the content also coming to the 360 in some form but without the motion controls.

It’s worth pointing out first that both re-releases are fairly substantial.  Super Street Fighter IV, as well as introducing eight new characters (some classic, some brand new), will also tweak  the existing characters and add some new moves, as well as further balancing the game and improving the online play.  That would be a lot as a DLC pack, and Capcom clearly feel it works better as a standalone release, and have said it won’t be a full-priced title.

T. Hawk and Deejay are known fighters returning from previous games.

T. Hawk and Deejay are known fighters returning from previous games.

Resident Evil 5, meanwhile, will be completely overhauled to support Sony’s motion controller, something which wouldn’t really be fair to expect them to do for free or hidden away in an addon (where any new gamers attracted by the motion controller won’t be aware of it), as well as adding a new level/mission.  On the 360 I’d guess the extra content will just come as DLC rather than have a fresh release for what is likely a relatively minor addition, but that’s not been revealed yet, nor has any price point.

For people who already have both games though (especially for RE5 on PS3, as there’s been no mention yet of a separate DLC release for the extra mission) it seems like this would be a bit annoying.  After being among the early adopters buying the games for full price, they’d now have to buy the game again as a budget re-release (more expensive than the average DLC) one year later, when all they actually want is  the additional content.  With SFIV, the release of SSFIV will actually take people away from the original community, as the two versions won’t be compatible online, and it’s not clear yet if the two RE5 versions could play together either.  Back in the SNES/Mega Drive days Capcom were seen as a developer very fond of milking their products for all they could, especially Street Fighter II, in ways other developers didn’t seem to, and this news seemed reminiscent of that.

RE503

In addition to Chris Redfield, the new content is supposed to also feature Jill Valentine instead of Resident Evil 5's Sheva Alomar, and takes place in a mansion owned by Umbrella. It sounds a lot like the first Resident Evil in that respect.

For somebody like myself, who wasn’t overly impressed by the RE5 demo and not a big fighting game fan, it’s delayed my plans to buy either game once they were cheaper (which I was planning to do with RE5 before the end of the year), as I may as well wait for the re-releases now, or at least wait to find out if the 360 version of Resident Evil 5 will get the extra content as DLC.  I must admit to being interested in finding out how well the game works with the motion controller on PS3 now, as it would probably make for a decent ‘hardcore’ game to come bundled with the controller, especially as Capcom already have experience incorporating similar controls into the Wii version of Resident Evil 4.  Making the older versions less attractive to late adopters also harms the resale value of the games, but I doubt that’s of particular concern to publishers like Capcom as they don’t generally receive money from those sales.

So overall then, I don’t quite know what to make of this news.  Outside of a few key releases like the Grand Theft Auto IV DLC and map packs for some major multiplayer games, it’s unclear quite how successful DLC generally is, and from a traditional retail perspective such things are almost wholly invisible to consumers (which is perhaps why more and more DLC and downloadable games are also becoming disc-based products), and publishers are entitled to release extra content in whichever way they feel will bring in the most money.  Having not yet bought either game I can hardly claim to be personally affected in any meaningful way either, and it could be argued that this is little different from a “Game of the Year” release.

I guess my only real concern then is that I’d rather not see every game take this approach, releasing additional content as an upgraded retail product so that people are having to buy the game first as a £40-50 new release, then again one year later at a budget £20+ to get extra content.  That almost seems like raising game prices by stealth.

Image Sources:

Game Covers: Assembled from Amazon product shots.

T. Hawk image: Eurogamer

Chris and Jill: Siliconera

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