Profiteering and Perversion – The Seedy World of Namco DLC.
I fucking hate Namco.
It’s okay though, the feeling is mutual. Namco hate me back and have absolutely no problem with letting me know that. They hate me because of past sins committed, namely buying their games. Yes, fuck me for buying Namco games.
Okay, slightly emotional introduction aside I’m actually being serious here. Something has gone wrong in the relationship between Namco and their customers. Not just a breakdown in communication but also in respect. Namco seemingly have stopped respecting their customers which in this industry is a problem because customers are also fans and trust me, you don’t fuck with the fans.
The presenting problem here, and the main thrust of the article, is their downloadable content (DLC) pricing which, at times, is pure greed in micro-transaction form. I’ll be documenting these travesties in this article but bear in mind that I began this article last week, before the Tales of Vesperia DLC was announced. Talk about adding fuel to the fireâ€¦
It’s not just the DLC, although that is what I’ll be focusing on, but also the way that Namco re-release the same games over and over. How many times can you bear seeing Dig Dug re-released for example? Or New Rally-X in classic and re-arranged modes. Namco Classics, Namco Museum, Namco Anniversary, Namco Anthology, Namco Galleryâ€¦ call them what you like, you’ll still be playing Galaga.
DLC has been a thorn in gamers’ sides since it first reared its ugly head but, if used right, it can be a good thing. Adding extra content to a game after most people have completed has been going on since the 8-bit days with data discs/tapes and is a good way to extend the life of a game. In recent times content such as the ‘Shivering Isles’ expansion (Oblivion) or ‘Getting Busy’ (Crackdown) have added to the lifespan of those games and whilst neither were particularly cheap there did seem to be some value for money there. Other DLC packages have been less good value but none have been as cynical as the content that Namco have made available and when you see it laid on the screen before you, you can’t help but feel that Namco need to have a word with themselves.
RIDGE RACER 6. Ridge Racer 6’s DLC offers you a mixture of free and ‘premium’ content. The ‘premium’ stuff is a choice of 41 pieces of background music at 80M$P ($1/68p) each. Background music, traditionally, is part of the game you are buying. Selling it is frankly a wanker’s trick. Also, as this link shows. The music is generic dance music dogshit.
The complete set will cost you 3280M$P ($40.98/£27.88). Yes, really and it costs just 11p less than most iTunes music but at least you can play iTunes music on the media player/device of your choice.
Ridge Racer 6 does also come with free content, namely 36 extra cars. At first this seems like a fairly sweet deal but if you look at the size of this content (108kb each) it becomes apparent that this is content that is already on the disc. You are simply downloading a key to unlock. So, my question to Namco is WHY FUCKING BURY IT IN THE MARKETPLACE? What, I’m meant to select each car individually and download it when it’s already on there? I hate this even more than them charging for the music and currently I hate that more than I hate Hitler, Jade Goody and family bereavement.
BEAUTIFUL KATAMARI. The old Katamari Damacy games rank up there as some of my favourite things of all time so when a 360 sequel was announced I was very excited but my excitement turned to piss pretty quickly when the DLC was announced.
The game shipped at a budget price, fair enough as the Katamari games were always pretty short and a bit ‘indie’ in their feel and presentation, but it became apparent pretty quickly that Namco had shipped a feature-crippled game.
The content available includes six levels (five of which are 200M$P, the other is 300M$P), four character packs (200M$P each) and six accessory packs (five are 200M$P, another is 250).
This content is all on the disc already. You are paying to unlock it. Remember unlocking content before these dark days? It used to be a reward for beating a level or completing the game, yes? I’m not imagining that am I?
Also, the five 200M$P accessory packs contain ten or more accessories. The 250M$P one contains one, a formal outfit. Oh do fuck off Namco.
To make matters worse, the DLC bumps the game up to 1250 available gamerscore which in itself is standard stuff (achievements enabled by DLC isn’t a Namco-only thing) but if you add together the points unlocked by DLC you get 330.
You can’t get to 1000GS without buying content?
Die in a fire, Namco. Die in a fucking fire.
ACE COMBAT 6. Ace Combat 6 was the game that started the anti-Namco feeling for many gamers. In all the previous Ace Combat games (of which I was a fan), extra planes were unlocked by completing missions, but now, predictably, you pay for them.
There are some free planes but also plenty more that’ll cost you. These range from 100M$P to 400M$P (yes £3.40/$5 for one fucking plane) and if you total them up it’ll cost you 11000M$P ($137.45/£93.50).
Now, before we collect the pitchforks and flaming torches and literally storm Castle Namco let’s at least look at their explanation.
When 1up.com interviewed the game’s producer, Hiroyuki Ichiyanagi, he described the whole process as an â€œexperimentâ€ and came out with the following bullshit.
â€œWith the explosion of information available to gamers through magazines, online sites and message boards, it’s hard to keep a players attention for an extended period of time, let alone attract new users who might be unfamiliar with or had little interest in certain titles in the past. By regularly releasing a diverse selection of downloadable content, we’re trying to keep the game interesting for fans who picked the game up on day one as well as the constantly expanding gaming audience that probably isn’t familiar with Ace Combat at all.â€
Hiyoyuki Ichiyanagi is a cunt.
It gets worse than charging over twice the price of the game to unlock all the planes though. Also available are various extra single and multiplayer levels which add up to another 2000M$P. These are essentially more maps (although why a game set in the sky needs fucking maps I’ll never know) but there is an even more sinister side to some this content.
The ‘Ace of Aces’ DLC offer a harder difficulty level for existing levels. Think about that for a while. Paying real cash money for an extra difficulty level would already be the act of a serial motherfucker but this is even worse. These are charged PER LEVEL. 350M$P PER LEVEL.
Real cash money to play a harder version of an existing level.
Think about that for a while. I’ll be round tonight to pick you up. Bring weapons.
I used to love Soul Calibur. Only the Dreamcast one though. The sequels were yawnsome but that old Dreamcast game was ace. Namco released it onto Xbox Live Arcade recently for 800M$P which is fair enough, although it was stripped of its main quest mode thus rendering the game utterly pointless.
Soul Calibur 4, the most recent PAL release from Namco, doesn’t have much in the way of content for it but the stuff that is there is pure, distilled cuntitude of the highest order (yes, I know I’m swearing a lot. It’s either that or self-harm at this point).
First up was the ‘Customization Equipment 1’ pack which gives you nine pieces of equipment for your customisable characters for a reasonable 100M$P. I say reasonable but, yet again, this content is already on the disc. Sigh.
This was followed by ‘Customization Equipment 2’ which for 200M$P offers you one piece of (already on the disc) content. This time it’s a maid outfit, the first warning sign of a darker side to Namco’s psyche.
200M$P to dress up a female character (an overly big-chested one at that thanks to Namco taking a leaf out of Dead or Alive’s ‘how to degrade women’ manual) in a maid outfit? Or the fact that the Limited Edition gives you a schoolgirl outfitâ€¦
Namco? Fucking NAMBLA more like.
If you look at the picture pack DLC available there is another sign of something being terribly wrong with Namco. These are priced between 80 and 120 M$P and are individually described as new, sexy, cute, mysterious, dark and good-looking.
The 60-80M$P packs have four-five pictures each in them where as the 100M$P have six. The 120M$P one also has six. Same number of pics as the ‘good-looking’ pack, so why 20M$P more? Can you guess which pack it is?
Yes, the ‘sexy’ one.
Before I wrap up the Soul Calibur IV hate, there’s also the small matter of them selling more background music. This time it’s the music from the original Soul Calibur and it costs 80M$P per tune. There are seventeen of them but you can get them all in one download for the price of 1200M$P.
Think about that for a second. 1200M$P. That’s the cost of Braid on XBLA or three coin-op games. Or, more tellingly, 400M$P more than Soul Calibur on XBLA. Which contains that music already.
Do you see?
THE IDOLM@STER. Getting back to Namco’s frankly worrying attitudes towards young girls, I took a look at the content for their Idolm@ster games. This game is, from what I can tell, a rhythm action title that follows the efforts of several young hopefuls in a Pop/American Idol type competition.
Aside from the musical sections themselves the game has you managing and styling the competitors and, of course, giving them various accessories and costumes. Many of which are available from the Marketplace at a price.
Before I get into the costs of this content. Here’s a little bit of information on the characters;
â€œShe manages good grades with minimal effort, and was born with good-looks that belie her age. She even receives around 20 confessions of love per day from boys.â€
The girl in question, Miki (apparently), is 14.
â€œDespite her age, she has the smallest bust out of all of the characters, which makes her the subject of many jokes in fan material.â€
Her age being 15.
Namco need to be destroyed.
Anyway, the DLC. It’s all in Japanese of course so I’m not sure what it all is but I totaled it up and the final combined price was 29380M$P.
$367.10. £249.73. With none of that costing more than 1000M$P I don’t think it includes a ‘buy everything’ option. Some of the items cost 1000M$P each. Some of it as low as 100. The 1000M$P predictably includes the schoolgirl outfit. But you guessed that already didn’t you?
This is Namco’s latest effort and is a J-RPG that features a lot of grinding (don’t they all?).
The DLC was announced this week and makes for frankly shocking reading. Instead of the usual extra costumes bullshit, Namco have managed something even worse.
â€¢ LV Up +10 (1) 300 Microsoft Points â€¢ LV Up +5 (1) 200 Microsoft Points â€¢ 300,000 Gold (1) 300 Microsoft Points â€¢ Skill sets 80 Microsoft Points â€¢ HP Recovery Cuisine Recipe Set 100 Microsoft Points
Buying levels and in game money? This is low even by Namco’s standards. Fuck, this is low even by Josef Fritzl standards. Of course, the fanboys of GameFAQs who can barely write their own names are already giving it the ‘Namco aren’t holding a gun to your head and making you pay’ excuse.
Well fuck them and fuck Namco. This is Namco saying ‘fuck our customers, how can we charge them more money’. Sell cheats. That’s a good idea, Namco. Not at all game-ruining.
There are other examples from Namco (80M$P to listen to in-game music in Eternal Sonata and the ninety download keys on ‘Love Football’) and you know things are going to get worse. Trust me, the Soul Calibur IV DLC is only just getting started.
All we can do as gamers is to ignore this content and purchase our Namco titles pre-owned. Sure, it’s putting money in the hands of greedy gaming shops but rather them than Namco getting your hard earned cash.
If this is the ‘experiment’, then Namco clearly feel they’ve gotten the result they wanted. If we’re ever going to get back to the days of paying for a complete game from Namco, then we all need to make a stand now.
Darth Vader is already on your Soul Calibur IV disc. You already own that data.
So are you going ignore him when he shows up on the Marketplace? Or are you going to support a company that is clearly run by cunts of the highest order and has been fucking you ever since they started making games for the 360?
Namco apologists will tell you that it’s your choice to buy or ignore this content whilst missing the point. If gamers could choose they’d choose for the content, that they’ve paid for, to be unlocked. They’d choose for their game discs to not be feature-crippled. They’d choose to get the complete experience when they pay full price for a game. They’d choose to not have to unlock free content when it’s already on the disc. They’d choose to not have to pay for fucking cousins and presents on Katamari games because they never had to before.
Yes, we don’t have to buy extra levels, vehicles and costumes. But when your online opponents are buying better fighters and vehicles, that fucks the online balancing. That lets people buy an advantage and you just have to look at the number of people glitching on Xbox Live games to know that, for some people, winning is everything and is worth money to them.
Namco are trying to ruin gaming. Do the right thing. Fight back.