Recently I wrote a post and did a video about the Mortal Kombat DLC praising them for doing “try before you buy”. I spent a good portion of the time advocating for more DLC practices that allow players to try out content before buying them and drew on demo experiences of indie titles I had on the Xbox 360 that convinced me to buy new games. Look, if you want to expand your game and playable characters with DLC, that’s fine, and some of the extra content is packaged that way. And while the demo of DLC is certainly something that should be applauded and asked for, what has been done with Mortal Kombat’s DLC should be called out for what it is: sequestered nostalgia, hurtles and pay walls, and predatory pandering. Let’s take each of these one at a time.
If you’re going to expand on a long running franchise like Mortal Kombat, leveraging faithful fans and brand loyal consumers, the last thing you should do is pit their nostalgia against them by selling “classic” versions of the characters. Angry Joe already called them out for the fact that Goro is all over the promotional and box art and yet isn’t even included the game. And I just defended the Batman Arkham Knight season pass for giving you what looks to be substantial pieces of DLC for roughly $7 a piece, and Gorro, a classic character that many thought was included in the game is selling for a crisp $5. Then to twist the sequestered nostalgia knife just a bit deeper, you can buy a classic Blue Steel Sub-Zero for $2. As I said above, if you want to expand your title with extra characters like Jason Voorhees that is totally fine. But something feels rotten about selling classic characters to consumers who are largely motivated to buy because of their allegiance and faithfulness to your title. This is the type of content that should be included, showing good will to faithful fans, making the rest of your extra monetized content not seem so suspect.
Hurtles and Pay Walls
This is by far the worst type of monetization. As someone who got incredibly burned out and frustrated by how Marvel Puzzle Quest implemented this sinister trickery, I only needed to read the details of how Mortal Kombat’s “Krypt Koins” work to know what’s going on here. Basically you can play through the game and legitimately earn “Koins”, or if that’s too bothersome or slow, which it will almost assuredly be intentionally slow, you can shell out $20 to unlock everything. I don’t even need to play the game to know what this is. If it was as simple as playing through the game and systematically unlocking content then there would be no reason to even offer a $20 shortcut. Holding unlockable content hostage behind slow grinding paths while offering a purchase button is just grimy and hurts the quality of the game, making it feel more like a sales tactic instead of a game.
And no, I’m not done yet. I feel especially frustrated that I took the time to write a post and create a video praising the DLC of a game that is full of every kind of bad monetization practice under the sun. Just when you thought they had done it all, they add one more piece of brilliant pandering. You can buy “easy fatalities”. This amounts to selling someone a cut scene that they can get access to by memorizing and mastering the right button combos or have to do the embarrassing hop-hop-hop-time-runs-out ending. Trust me, I’m horrible at fighting games and would always get irritated at my inability to recreate practiced combos when actually playing against a live player in Killer Instinct, so I get it. But making money off of someone’s lack of ability or frustration is exactly what is wrong with so much of the monetization in games like Candy Crush and the like. And people are paying money for what? Nothing. It isn’t tangible content they can experience and come back to or replay, it’s a token they spend on a cut scene. So to quote Bob Newhart, “Stop it!”
Seriously, whoever is in charge, freaking stop this nonsense. Evolve learned their lesson with a DLC content dump and lack luster sales, and I hope Mortal Kombat learns the same lesson with their cheap sales tactics. You guys are just embarrassing yourselves. Create real content with real value and sell that. Stop leveraging your fans nostalgia and loyalty against them to make a buck. Stop creating intentionally slow unlocking paths to motivate purchasing shortcuts. And stop being predatory on the lack of skills or patience of lesser skilled players who will spend money out of desperation or frustration. Please. For the sake of your own games and gaming. Stop. It.
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