Sakurai on the State of Modern DLC: It’s a Scam

Masahiro Sakurai

Despite worries that he would not be able to make DLC for Super Smash Bros. beyond Mewtwo, Masahiro Sakurai has surprised players with the promise of just that, beginning with Lucas as a downloadable fighter in June. Rumors have also pointed to even more playable characters like Roy and Ryu within the game’s data. One has to wonder, why the change of heart?

In the latest Director’s Column in Weekly Famitsu (translated by SourceGaming), Mr. Sakurai had some choice words regarding mordern DLC, its potential to be abusive to players who paid top-dollar for the core game, and how he believes the Smash Bros. DLC plan has true value. It’s a long quote, but important.

These days, the “DLC scam” has become quite the epidemic, charging customers extra money to complete what was essentially an unfinished product. I completely understand how aggravated players must feel. After all, a game should be 100% at the time of release, and I would be livid if it were split up and sold in pieces.

Why, then, do you think so many titles provide premium DLC on or shortly following a game’s release? It’s because that’s the easiest way to make money.

After all, if you wait too long after a game’s release to distribute additional content, players will already move on to the next title. Even long tail titles–that is, ones that perform consistently well over an extended period of time – make more money the earlier they come out.

The same goes for Sm4sh. We could have easily reserved a few characters on the current roster and later sold them as premium DLC. A considerable amount of work went into development, and the game would have already featured a ton of content. Plus, if you were looking to make a profit, DLC would be the way to go. Development is more costly than ever, yet the price of games has remained the same, so more income would help offset that imbalance.

However, the DLC we are releasing for Sm4sh is authentic, developed only after we finished working on the main game. Of course, said content will come to you at a premium as compensation for the work put into developing additional content post-production. Nintendo has the final say on the price, but given the number of man-hours spent on the creation of this DLC, I’d say it’s a great deal.

Moreover, we decided to release other characters as well because part of the fun of Smash is the anticipation: “Which character will join the fray next!?” If we keep distributing content, we can maintain that excitement, and I think that’s a really great thing.

Our team may have shrunk in size, but I’m still just as excited as ever to be pouring my heart and soul into my work every day. Given the different types of content we’re producing, it wouldn’t be surprising for the planning of one item to coincide with the development, balancing, and finalization of several others. We also have version updates, online features, and additional modes to worry about. It can be quite overwhelming, but it’s all about making players happy.

Fighters take an incredible amount of work to develop, so I don’t think we’ll be able to produce that many. Part of me would also love to finish up the project and finally enjoy some rest and relaxation. That said, we’ve already begun development, so I would like to provide as much additional fun and excitement as possible from here on out. We’ll continue working for a little while longer, so please stay tuned!

This change of tone is surprising. Consider that in January’s Famitsu, he answered a fan letter with the premenition that he might quite game development altogether.

It was very tough this time around… I doubt I’ll be able to go on making games if it continues like this. But, I consider myself lucky that so many people seem to enjoy [Smash Bros.]

Could this whole DLC stance be a case of Mr. Sakurai being coy or frankly honest? In the iterum, he’s working with a smaller team to get this DLC content, including Mii costumes, out the door. Let us know how you feel about Mr. Sakurai’s stance on DLC in the comments.

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Editor-in-Chief (Former)

A man with a plan. My favorite video game franchise is Pokemon, but his favorite video game is Resident Evil 4. I can also tell you trivial cartoon factoids.