Hello and welcome to the debut of a new series that I'm trying out called "Do's and Don'ts"(name not final), a series in which I talk about what developers and publishers should/shouldn't do when it comes to games, practices, etc. For this inagural post, I figure I start off talking about Super Smash Bros 4 DLC. If you like this and want to see more or if you think some things need to be improved, please let me know.
So did you guys see that recent Nintendo Direct covering the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. 4? It was pretty awesome, wasn't it? I don't know about you guys, but that Direct did the impossible and actually made me even more excited for Smash then I already was, which is saying quite a bit since I was already pretty excited (I had to change my pants twice during the Direct!). Eight players at once, events and coin matches are returning, Classic mode got an update, Ridley could be fought on the Pyrosphere stage, online voice chat, return of some classic stages, etc. But without a doubt, the biggest news for a lot of people was that Smash was going to have some kind of DLC when the game comes out, starting with return of fan favorite Mewtwo to people who owned both the 3DS and Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. 4.
Now while some people may have lamented Nintendo for making Mewtwo free for people who owned both copies for the time being, the one thing that stood out to me was that Nintendo is doing DLC for Smash; and honestly, that kind of worried me. Don't me get wrong; even though they only just started doing it, Nintendo has been hitting out of the park with how they've handled DLC, with Fire Emblem: Awakening and Mario Kart 8 being excellent examples of them doing it right. Super Smash Bros. is a completely different beast when it comes to DLC; you just can't throw a character into the game and call it a day. You have to make sure they're balanced and not overpowered, making sure that no one has an advantage over another player because they put down five bucks; this also holds true when you talk about including stages, since unlike other fighting games, the stages in Smash actually matter when it comes to who wins (yes that includes flat neutral stages like Final Destination).
So Nintendo, if you're reading this first of all, thank you for doing so. But most importanly, you need to handle the DLC for Smash 4 with a lot more care than you're usually famous for. So here are a few Do's and Dont's of how to DLC in Super Smash Bros. 4.
DO: Make the DLC reasonable priced, and make it worthwhile
An example of doing it right.
As I said earlier, Nintendo is one of the few companies that's been doing DLC pretty well despite them only doing it pretty recently. Still, it should go without saying that the DLC for Smash 4 should be pretty reasonable, depending of course on how Nintendo wants to distribute said DLC. Do they want to do what they did with Mario Kart 8 and have a a pack containg certain characters and courses? Or do they want to do what they did with Fire Emblem Awakening & Mario Golf: World Tour where you can buy characters and chapters indvidually or buy it all at once with a Season Pass? Personally, in the case of Smash, I'd lean toward the former rather than the latter, if for no other reason then you could do some pretty cool stuff with it.
Think about it: for like $8.99 you can buy a pack themed around a series, like Fire Emblem. It would include a couple of characters (which I'll go into later), a few trophies, a stage (though one not necessarily based on the series), and maybe some costumes if it's not too much trouble. Or you could buy three packs (based on Fire Emblem, Pokemon, & Star Fox for example) for a price of say $13.99, give or take. In any case, make the DLC something that's both meaty in content, but doesn't cost an arm and a leg to get.
DON'T: Make the DLC characters exclusive to certain versions
I own the 3DS version of Smash, and I'm currently in the process of seeing how much my non-vital organs are worth on the black market (kidneys are overrated anyway) to get the Wii U version. But some people don't have non-vital organs to sell, or they don't have any desire to play a game like Smash on the 3DS (for the record, outside of the analog nub having a problem with pressing down, which it's had for awhile, I haven't had any problems playing the 3DS version, despite having an OG Red 3DS and big, meaty, claws). This in turn made the news that Mewtwo was going to be given for free to people who owned both versions of the game a hard pill to swallow for some. While I personally don't mind that (since again I'm getting both versions), I can see why some people are little upset by it, especially because Mewtwo is a pretty popular character. So protip Nintendo; going forward, don't make the characters exclusive to one version or the other.
You see that picture I linked above? That's the infamous chart on the Watch Dogs wikipedia page that shows what content was avilable for each version of the game. Obviously, that's an extreme example, but my point still stands; make sure the DLC characters are avilable for both versions of the game. For example, if you're going to include Ice Climbers as DLC, make sure they work in both the Wii U and 3DS versions, or don't include them at all. Speaking of the Ice Climbers, this segways perfectly to my next point:
DON'T: Release only clones and veteran characters
At this point, complaining about clones in Smash is like watching Game of Thrones and getting upset because your favorite character died. The same goes with characters that aren't clones but are still pretty weird like the Ice Climbers. They may be weird and not especially popular among certain players, but they are still a part of what makes Smash unique. That being said, as much as I love both the clones (except Pichu) and the weird, unique characters, I'm not all that willing to pay money to play as these characters, especially Pichu. Because I hate Pichu.
Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't release them at all as DLC, but if you're going to, balance it out with new characters that have never been playable in Smash before. Take Mortal Kombat 9 for example (yes, I know it's a completely different game from Smash, but it's still worth a mention in my opinion); it may have had only four DLC characters, but they were evenly split between classic characters (Kenshi, Rain), and new characters (Skarlet, Freddy Krueger). As an added bonus, since Smash is a game that takes characters from famous Nintendo franchises, you have plenty of characters to choose from. Hell, here are just some new characters that I thought of off the top of my head (in no particular order):
And before any of you bring it up, yes I know a few of those characters I listed are also Assist Trophies, but considering Little Mac debuted in Brawl as an Assist Trophy before being fully playable in Smash 4, I think it's pretty safe to assume that today's Assist Trophies are tomorrow's Smashers.
DO: Release the DLC in a timely matter
This one is pretty self-explantory, but it should still be said. Release the DLC in a timely matter; not too early after release, but not too late that the game is forgotten. Based on the (admittedly somewhat vague) release date of Mewtwo being released in Spring of 2015, it does seem like Nintendo is on the right path. I know that it sounds a ways off, but if you look at other fighting games like Mortal Kombat 9 and the most recent Injustice: Gods Among Us, the release date for the DLC is within reason, as those games were supported with quite a bit of post-launch content; in the case of Injustice, the last DLC character (Zatanna) was released almost five months after the game was initially released. Granted, at this point we only know of one character so far (Mewtwo), but if there are other DLC characters that are coming out, I would hope they come out sooner rather than later.
Anyway, that's it for this inaugral post of "Do's and Don'ts. What do you guys think? Do you agree, disagree, think I missed something? Maybe you think I'm full of it and don't know what I'm talking about? In any case, please let me know. Hopefully this won't be the last one of these that I do, and hopefully I can come up with a better title. I intend to make this be a bit more laid back than what I usually write, hence some of the swearing and the pacing. Thanks for reading; good night and good luck.