How many playable characters should fighting games have at launch?

Over the past week, a controversy erupted as the upcoming game from Arc System Works, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle, announced that it planned to have 20 additional characters to the original roster available to purchase through DLC. Since half the proposed playable characters were locked behind a paywall, many in the Fighting Game community felt betrayed and found ASW to be anti-consumer, even going so far as to boycott the game they were looking forward to.

This brought a lot of questions to mind as I present the following: How many playable characters should a fighting game available at launch. And should the unlockable characters be locked through a campaign or should they have alternate means of unlocking them. For example, in the Super Smash Bros. Series, there are a number of alternate requirements a player can do to unlock hidden characters.

Personal bias upfront; I am very much a casual when it comes to fighting games. In fact, I am planning to buy the upcoming Arc System Works game, Dragonball FighterZ, since I enjoyed the open beta so far. However, I am given pause when I think about the number of additional characters promised to be released later in a season pass.

The idea of adding new characters later is not new as other companies (such as Capcom and their treatment of Street Fighter V) have done this before. Just on the flip side, it would be moot to ask for a plethora of characters if a number of them play exactly the same (which thankfully is more common 3D fighters instead of 2D fighters).

Just the same, how many playable characters is considered 'enough' for a 60 USD purchase?

All of them. if you need to announce more characters than you have developed to sell your product, you don't have a very good product. So why should I be giving you more money because of this?
That is considering they arn't day 1 DLC, which is just bullshit.

I mean, the only real answer to this question is "enough", though I gotta admit: having half your announced roster be DLC is super ballsy.

Like, if they add more characters later, fine. I'm even okay if they let you know what they're working on. "Hey weird planning on making X number of DLC characters in the future" is one thing, "hey, wekre selling A B and C characters as DLC, here's our marketing for them before the game is out" is another.

I appreciate the wording here.

How many playable characters should fighting games have at launch?

All of them. As in, don't plan to include new characters after the game's released. If you want to add more, delay the game and include them before release. If the devs/publisher have to get the game out the door at a certain time wait until the game's actually successful before announcing new content.

It always feels like the game's incomplete at launch. Plus early purchasers get the worst deal value-wise because it's always so predictable there'll be a complete edition of some sort in the future. Though that goes for AAA games in general.

As with the Cross Tag Battle thing, holy shit, do devs actually think announcing DLC before release gets people excited? I guess so, otherwise they wouldn't have done it for both that and DBFZ.

Enough that all of them achieve a decent spread across the four qualities of mobility, power, range and control, met by sufficient capacity to reward individual understanding of characters even after roughly 10+ hours of playing competitively online against the multiplicity of other choices.

Though this second aspect can be achieved through customizable elements of potential gear choice-amalgamated systems.

All of them, from every fighting game ever made, including the secret costumes,

It will be the ultimate fighting game.

I don't really care how many to be honest, heck the first edition of Street Fighter II had 8 fighters. And that was plenty enough for the time. But if you showcase intention to release the same number of fighters that the game released with as DLC, then you're doing something wrong. Or just looking like a bit of an asshole, at the very least.

As many as you can get without creating to broad of an imbalance or duplicating concepts?

That could be 8, could be 50, depending how creative you are I suppose.

The thing with DLC character in fighting games is that they're generally a competitive scene. With the idea that everyone has the same options. Even if everything's all in balance and there's not some absurd pay to win character out there, you could still be the guy without the DLC who can't pick a counter-play character because that character was in the DLC (or even better, your opponent uses a DLC character whose counter was also in DLC, possibly even a separate pack.).

At least two.

I think it is fine to have character DLC - that seems to be more the issue being inquired about than the literal question itself.

But when those DLC characters are half of all characters, things become a bit sketchy. A big part of fighting games is competitiveness and because of that - balance. How can a game be any balanced if such a massive amount of characters are being added along the way? Is it even possible?

I was pretty much fine with GGXrd adding Dizzy later. It's kinda nothing new having a handful of characters added later on. Like when Street Fighter games get a Super version - which is pretty much a 'DLC update' by today's standards, they come with a few new characters.

What baffles me is why they thought revealing the fact was a good idea at all. If they released those characters over time without saying a damned thing, people would have probably bought and played the game all this backlash at once. People would probably be pissed later on, but it'd likely be a more thinner spread out sort of hate and the game would have sold already. In trying to market the game, they've kinda shot themselves in the foot.

All of them. if you need to announce more characters than you have developed to sell your product, you don't have a very good product. So why should I be giving you more money because of this?
That is considering they arn't day 1 DLC, which is just bullshit.

What about a DLC after launch, that is free, but the characters need to be unlocked, like old 90s era fighters? You still get the characters for free, but they're made after launch, and you have to put in a little work to unlock them?

The number varies depending on the game and it's series history. That being said, planning 20 DLC characters upfront, including splitting Team RWBY in half just to sell Blake and Yang later WAS a dick move by ArcSys.


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