E3 2015 showed that the AAA market will be getting back on its feet with exciting new games being steadily released for the forseeable future. That all starts with Rocksteady's highly anticipated Arkham Knight, which is the first big release following E3. The Arkham series has never really been an innovator (outside of the "superhero" sub-genre) but it has always perfected mechanics made famous by other franchises, for example the combat is an evolved version of Assassins Creed mixed with a Dynasty Warriors style combo counter, the free flowing running, jumping, climbing trees is taken from Tomb Raider and Prince Of Persia, the stealth is taken from the Splinter Cell guidebook. Before E3 this article was pencilled to ask if Batman could save the games industry in 2015 and I concluded it would be a helping hand but needed other big titles to back it up, now with Fallout 4, Just Cause 3 and all the other exciting games named at E3 on the horizon I don't think that question needs to be answered anymore but as its release date gets closer I start to think of the huge Gotham I am going to explore and all the potential this open world holds, I have to ask, can Arkham Knight change the games industry?
Downloadable content is becoming a dirtier concept by the day with games like Evolve trying to import the tricks of mobile gaming into the AAA world but a couple of companies have shown us how it's done. Bethesda have shown commitment to producing high quality DLC with their open world games providing new smaller maps with a dedicated story arch also adding new items, they basically add the same quality and depth as the full game but on a smaller scale in size and price. The best example is Grand Theft Auto IV which had Liberty City as its existing open world and used DLC to add new story elements, new items and gameplay aspects. I feel that this practice could help evolve DLC in open worlds into a more episodic release pattern across a consoles lifespan. Imagine if Rockstar released a game that spanned across their three open worlds (Liberty City, San Andreas and Vice City), you pay £50/$70 for the full game, which has it's own story, characters and items, you install the worlds on your hard drive, finish the game and then the cities are waiting for a dedicated team to keep adding cheaper, episodic content to a world already built. This could see Rockstar have a steady income and the fans have something fresh in a game world that's familier throughout a generation.
Rocksteady are in a perfect place to test the waters with this as they have Gotham to play with. A place that is already familier with a lot of people but has never really been mapped out, a place where characters are already established and there is a ton of lore to explore from the DC universe, on top of that the Arkham series already has a solid framework of gameplay mechanics. Then there is the obvious connection of episodic releasing with a comic book superhero, Batman has been doing this for decades and is the prime candidate to evolve this idea in the AAA market so it has a generations worth of support for the map rather than a few months support or until the publishers next AAA title takes all focus. So the city and game mechanics are saved to your hard drive and at the end of Arkham Knights story the city still lives, full of potential to be used again and again. Apart from keeping combat animations fresh and mechanics for new characters or items most of the work is done for Gotham to be used for other Batman stories. With the amount of old Batman material and a huge fanbase containing many talanted people wanting to create new material for their favourite character, this could see no end. It could even be given to other trusted developers or indie developers with good track records if Rockstady can't handle the workload or just want a break.
At the end of it all this will only work if the episodes had quality content for a cheaper price while still being profitable but with Warner's previous poor DLC practices, Catwoman missions last time round, Arkham Knights marketing driven by the same pre-order garbage as their last game and WB's wish to be equal on git points with Ubisoft and EA, if this did come about I think they would want to charge full price per episode and I don't think that would be healthy for either party. This game has the potential to change DLC practices but I think Warner would rather have Gothem destroyed and rebuilt so they can justify a full game release, even that is wishful thinking though, they will probably copy and paste the city and release a new full game annually for full price.