Treating the Customer with Respect

To knock out some spare time and to help in my pursuit of procrastination, I popped in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 for a few quick matches. I usually go back to a fighting game frequently enough to shake off any permanent rust, but something special happened on this occasion: I got some free stuff. A lot of free stuff actually. Not just a costume or a hat for Panda (although let’s face it, that would be rad), but a slew of seven actual characters, a gigantic pack of costumes, and a stage dedicated to Snoop Dogg (I’m not calling him by his new sellout persona). I never asked for this, but it dawned on me: Namco Bandai maybe doesn’t see me as a cheap whore, one they can push on the street corner in order to milk a few dimes out of. I feel like a respected consumer to them.

A take like this is refreshing. This generation has been filled with moments of economic struggle, which tends to bring out the worst in companies. Online passes, DRM, on-disc DLC (we should just call it ULC), and other controversial practices have shown the cold side of business over the warm, cozy feeling that few studios exhibit. Even though plenty of publishers publish fantastic titles, I can’t help but feel that they are trying to squeeze me for everything I’ve got. I don’t liken EA or Activision to the likes of Hitler or Osama like a good chunk of narrow-minded half-wits on the Internet, but I feel like they only see me as an exploitable prostitute and I see them as an entity that doesn’t care much about PR or good vibes. I buy their games that interest me, but don’t spend my day thinking about how awesome they are. I get in, then I get out without much extra thought.

The Snoop Dogg DLC was for frizzle. Forget I said that. I hate when people do that when they reference Snoop.

Since Tekken‘s game director Katsuhiro Harada came out and said how a vast majority of the DLC would be free, I instantly felt the need to actually care about them as a company and developer. Because they have the positive mindshare, I’d be more likely to buy their DLC even though they said it was going to be free. I like helping out individuals with kind souls, so why not mirror the same respectful reaction for a company that demonstrates a similar appreciation for me, their loyal patron? People may be quick to pounce on EA, Ubisoft, or Activision, but they’ll also be somewhat swifty in jumping on the love bandwagon for “good” companies with admirable practices. Look at Valve. Gabe Newell is practically a deity among a big chunk of gamers.

The positivity that is sure to spread after this can be helpful in the long run. Players are more likely to not immediately write a company like that off or have some sort of inherent bias against them. Capcom rings a similar bell with me. In all actuality, I literally almost wrote “Cunty Shitcom” (not my best wordplay, I know) because I hate the way they treat their customers. Their most loyal players are usually the ones they screw over the most, something I cannot get behind. So, to show my displeasure with their business, I’ve refused to support them in almost every way I could.

If you do the math, it’s well over $100 to unlock everything on the disc.

A more positive company with the same lineup of games could have seen my cash but, given their decisions, I choose not to support Capcom whenever possible. I’ll call out a good game from them when I see it (DmC is looking like a likely candidate even though I’m more excited to help Ninja Theory out) and will honestly and easily separate these feelings when it comes to review time, but there’s always a tinge of discomfort when I see Capcom mentioned. A nasty gut reaction by just a mere name mention is a feeling they’ve worked into me over the years and will take some good PR to wrestle out. They’ve disrespected me as a customer, so it’s acceptable to give them an equal magnitude of dishonor.

Burnout Paradise did a similar thing to Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Not only was it this generation’s best racing title, but it continued with free support after launch, almost to the point of making me feel guilty that I bought it on sale (albeit still new). I was much more likely to buy their DLC since they’d given me so much without any cost and, despite what EA is trying to do with Dead Space 3 (not as much the game, but the “five million units” pressure they’re tossing at it), I’d be happy to send them support for Burnout Paradise. Starhawk was sort of in the same boat and, although it didn’t meet much success, the free map packs did create some positive buzz for a nearly doomed title.

“Take me down to Paradise City where the grass is green and the DLC ain’t shitty.”

In addition to gathering the newest free Tekken content, another noteworthy event happened when I sat down for a session of Tekken. The Playstation Store updated with plenty of paid (and some free) DLC for Street Fighter X Tekken, as it does every single week. This deluge of on-disc DLC is nothing strange for Capcom, but it added to the litany of scummy paid costume and gem packs, something that reeks of greed and numbers in the hundreds when all added together. It’s interesting to observe two companies handling their respective fighting games in the same market. Because of this, I know which one I’d speak less kindly about; the one looking at my nipples, hoping to milk me even more.

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