Thursday, August 15, 2013

I Don't Like SMT4 or DLC

Let me talk about why I hate DLC.

I hate DLC because I could see Shin Megami Tensei 4 coming from five years ago.

SMT games have always been grindfests. I bought the others - I didn't beat any of them because they are a gajillion hours long, but I enjoyed them.

SMT4 has extremely limited money and experience. Enemies don't drop money, and you can only get it in tiny drips and drabs. You can regenerate MP faster than you can get XP. It's a starved game.

That's been true forever - SMT has always been on the "hard" side, which is one reason I always liked it. The other reason I liked it is that you're free to experiment by building custom demons and playing around with different builds, just like in Persona.

But SMT4 takes that scarcity up a few notches, and I was confused as to why. At first I thought it was just during the tutorial section, but it turns out that the tutorial is when money and XP comes easiest. After that, the pacing turns into something a high-level grinding MMO would be ashamed of.

This makes it almost impossible to customize demons. A level 3 demon costs about 1500 macca to re-summon. 1500 macca is fifteen fetch quests, or five of the fetch quests you get at level 10. Each fetch quest requires a not insignificant number of monster bits. This makes the fun part of the SMT series - remixing demons - a serious chore. A huge burden. I have demons in my inventory that cost ten times more money than I have ever had to resummon. So I can't mix them, because I'll never get them back.

They also raised the random brutality of the game, turning into less a game of skill and more a game of avoiding ever taking any chances or you'll have to pay the reaper. Literally.

Why did they make these mysterious changes? Well, let's see.

Real money DLC is aimed at giving you scads of money, XP, and broken weapons. And resurrection? You can use real money for that, too.

So $2 in real money will net me a basically unlimited amount of cash. 1500 macca in one drop, minimum.

Oh? Is it clear why they poisoned their own game?

I paid these guys full game price and they gave me a broken game, expecting I'd get so annoyed that I'd pay them more money to break it in the opposite direction.

Let's be clear. I am not "choosing not to buy" DLC. Nor am I "resisting their attempts to sell me" DLC. No, I would never buy DLC for this game. Ever. It was never even on the table. Never.

But in their desperation, they tried to push me for more money. In the process, they broke their game. They don't even pitch the DLC until pretty late in the game, but the broken-ness is there from the start.

They also broke their franchise: I bought every SMT game. I'm not going to buy SMT5, if there is one. I've also bought every Persona game. I'm going to have to think reeeeeal hard about the next one, though, because this is bullshit.

Can DLC be done right?

Sure. Kerbal does DLC right. There's a huge amount of Kerbal DLC. Much of it is higher quality than the original stuff. Because the Kerbal developers don't make any money off of it, they didn't break their game to try and sell it.

Can DLC be sold without breaking the game?

Sure. Batman: Arkham City has that awful Catwoman campaign, along with scads of other content. None of it is very interesting to me, but I paid full price for Arkham City and the reason I eventually got tired of it had nothing to do with it being broken for DLC sale purposes.

But you have to be careful. When there's money to be made, it's easy to get into the mindset of "this is how to monetize well, so just do more like that".

And then you break your game and your franchise and alienate gamers that have plenty of money they would be happy to give you if you would give them the game they paid for and not some bullshit money siphon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you really don't have any money then you are doing something wrong. I've played through the game a couple of times and the only time I ever needed money was at the main beginning. Once you hit Tokyo you should never run out of money. I almost never did a fetch quest twice and when I did it was never for money, I just wanted to get rid of the crap in my inventory.

Demon Summoning is never worth it until you get the discounts so you shouldn't bother with it until then or you probably will end up strapped for cash. You focus on YOUR equipment and you can pretty well ignore what demons you have. By late game they should really only be there to heal you should something go wrong. And once you hit the best bought equipment (or get better equipment through sidequests) then money basically becomes obsolete. You will NEVER use it unless you're trying to complete the compendium or summoning a high level demon that you don't have the components for on hand (which you never have to do since you can simply go and get one of pretty well everything.)

Yeah, the game is hard in the beginning because you are incredibly flimsy compared to any boss demon but once you hit Tokyo it's not that hard since you can get better demons and equipment.