Back in March 25, 2014, Marie Rose launched onto consoles. A lot of good was to be said, considering she is a new character ported from the arcade onto console via fan demand. As far as playing the character, she runs a more defensive slower paced style, and her natural movement implements some ambiguity. She’s a fitting fighter that mixes well with the rest of the cast, and as far as fairness goes, she is far from broken. From a design standpoint, we applaud Team Ninja for making such a character.
Marie Rose costs $5.99 as a character, and each of her DLC outfits are $1.99 each. A bundle for $12.99 exists for her and all her current DLC outfits, which overall saves about $3 than buying separately. These prices may look expensive in a way, especially when comparing to the base cost of Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate as a full game, but as far as just DLC pricing goes, it’s rather understandable since the costs to port an arcade exclusive character is by no means cheap. Since Marie Rose is brand new, her character and DLC outfits are more expensive than other characters.
What we wanted to point out in this post is about how reception of how Team Ninja handled the discrepancy between consumer expectation that Marie Rose would free and how they answered to the complaints.
Back in June 2012, Hayashi basically spoke out against the concept of paid character DLC. This was after CAPCOM’s Street Fighter x Tekken came out with locked on-disc characters, which he clearly claimed Dead or Alive 5 Vanilla would not have. The article that features this interview resonated extremely strongly with people because it looked like Team Ninja was showing a strong stance against a paid character DLC concept. Considering the Dead or Alive 5 series was undergoing a revival after being effectively dead, the potential buildup was very exciting. Fast forward to today, and Marie Rose appears to break this trend at first glance.
After seeing Team Ninja’s Facebook response a few days ago, they claim the 2012 article’s context was in regards to applying paid character DLC in Dead or Alive 5 Vanilla. This coincides with what we often say here: Team Ninja technically never lied. It’s very easy to misread or believe inaccurate news, but the key words were not confusing. The real issue we find isn’t that Marie Rose is paid character DLC, but rather Team Ninja inadvertently gave people the impression that Marie Rose would be free. It became rather easy for people to instantly think Team Ninja is pulling the CAPCOM moves they were frowning on in the first place, when subsequent actions such as releasing Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate already spawned doubts.
Sure, the original releasing of Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate was to supply literally what the fans demanded: certain desired characters, stages, and the ability to add in more planned characters such as Marie Rose recently. One reason why Dead or Alive 5 Vanilla couldn’t do this was because the game wasn’t programmed to be so versatile with changes. Although Dead or Alive 5 Vanilla is technically a complete game, the actions in releasing Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate not even a year after release provided a large share of backlash. This is all despite the fact that Team Ninja literally appeared to do their best in fulfilling fan demand, without breaking any promises either.
Could the bad reception of Marie Rose been avoided? We believe so. For marketing purposes, it is desirable to promote the benefit of what people may be getting, not the costs. In a way, Team Ninja is damaging their intellectual property by flooding the market with DLC which appears to target the wallet rather than impress as new content. No matter how accurate news articles may be, Marie Rose was not known to be $5.99 until much closer to release date. This is not unusual, but the timing of disclosing a price for her was rather late, making the news a bit of a shock.
Unlike costume DLC, the implementation of an additional character does change the balance of the game no matter how small the impact. Balancing a game is hard since there are many variables to consider. Only owners of Core Fighters correctly reflect Marie Rose’s implementation as intended since you buy characters to use. For Xbox360 owners, her availability to buy came a day before the patch update, causing the game to be unable to function for a full day. Making the game unplayable due to a new release and mandatory update is among the worst inconveniences to go through.
While people can likely live with the fact that paid character DLC exists, their trust in Team Ninja has taken a hit as well. Never does anyone who was certain the DLC would be free turning out to have a cost will like the news. What’s even more unfortunate is that Team Ninja finds they did nothing wrong, which is indeed true. When one really thinks about the strategy company-wise, all of their moves are completely normal. In fact, making Marie Rose free would have been more favorable to the people, but less profitable for the company. We are not even including the myriad of other issues that compound this issue.
However, is charging for new DLC characters worth the negative reception? Team Ninja does the right things, continuing to actively deliver content the fanbase wanted. Yet they execute in a way that makes them look like a follower in the DLC-infested modern trend, rather than being a serious fighter that stands out above the rest in their practices, actively delivering what the fanbase has demanded. Part of the appeal of this game is the potentially large variety of looks a character can present, instead of a wallet grubbing product. Team Ninja should focus on the game being stronger and more popular. We already know DLC is a double edged sword, but we never would have thought delivering what the fanbase has demanded has its own share of bigger downsides.
Now what do we expect next? We’re not sure. Back on May 9, 2013 was when Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate was announced, so some news may spawn next month. Although Team Ninja has been active in doing their best to provide fan demanded content, it came at a cost. Their execution and marketing has been largely misleading, even though the methods themselves are quite normal. We’ve seen cases of people doubting and wondering if a Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate Arcade Edition would exist. Considering how Ultimate originally came to exist, along with how Marie Rose didn’t appear with the smoothest of implementations, people simply doubt anything Team Ninja appears to say. This is a perception and handling issue, not a content and release issue.
The concept of the periodic releases are good, but the execution has been rugged at best. With our observing with how Dead or Alive 5 as a whole game has evolved thus far, there’s plenty of good, but nothing we see to make Team Ninja truly stand out as a fighting game.
The work to implement Marie Rose and her DLC outfits likely was a big reason why there had not been periodic DLC releases for DOA5U recently. Also, with a new costume design competition recently, we will not expect new costume DLC anytime soon. We suspect that the winners of the costume design will likely be implemented as new DLC.
As of right now, Team Ninja has set up a limited time discounted deal for 3 weeks in the month of April. To celebrate 1 million Core Fighter downloads, for $19.99, people who have Core Fighters can obtain the full cast (minus Marie Rose) and all of the past DOA5 and DOA5+ DLC. The ratio of cost to content quantity is really in the buyer’s favor. For full game owners, the 81 DLC costumes that came out before DOA5U’s release is available for $19.99. Team Ninja already acknowledged that the Core Fighters deal is an incorrect input, and that it should be $29.99. Until then, it’s $10 cheaper until the correction happens.
For active DOA5U news down the road, we only know that future characters are in the pipeline, such as PHASE-4, a Kasumi clone. The projected release date for future paid DLC characters will be around September 2014, one year after DOA5U released. The 6 month delay could be due to needing to use this current time period to develop the kinks and implementations, as well as setting up paid character DLC bundles, which will be cheaper per character unit.
Us personally, we’re going to refrain from purchasing Marie Rose out of principle. Why buy a character on a game we hardly play right now when we’re expecting a better deal down the road?