Microsoft recently announced Killer Instinct’s pay structure; the game will be free and come with one character (Jago) with additional characters available for $4.99 each. The 'Combo Breaker' pack will cost $19.99 and include all eight characters, six at launch, two of which will be added in the near future. Microsoft also announced they have the 'Ultra Edition' pack which will run you $39.99 and will come with the eight characters, alternate costumes, some 'accessories' (no idea what that means) and the original Killer Instinct. They plan to have 'seasons,' each one will add new characters and stages over the course of the coming months and years.
Now this seems awesome, you get what seems to be a robust fighting game for only $19.99, that’s a steal right? Well, here’s the thing. If the game will only launch with six characters, one has to wonder how big the initial install base will be. Getting people in at the release is crucial to a fighting game's success. It will grant the game longevity and make sure it has a community after release. While the price point is a fair deal, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s facing an uphill battle from the get go. The initial install base is where you’ll get most of your players, the people will who be discovering new technology, the people who will keep it in the mind of fighting game community.
What if the game ends up not having a big community because of this? Will they continue to support it and make adjustments based on things that are broken in the game, such as infinites? As a consumer this worries me greatly and as a Killer Instinct fan, it worries me even more so.
Something that has been under the radar is the game has only been in development for around a year -- which is probably why they are only releasing six characters at launch. It’s not as if they are holding out content on the public, which has been done in the past with fighting games. They just don’t have the content ready, which makes me question how balanced the game will be when launched. What will happen if the game is severely unbalanced early on?
We also have to be concerned with Double Helix games and their past performances. They’ve made some titles that I would describe as below average. I know everyone, including myself, was up in arms over Rare not making the new Killer Instinct -- but let’s be honest, the brain trust in Rare left in 2007 with the Stamper brothers exiting.
It’s trendy to bash Microsoft with some of the decisions they make. In some case it’s justified, but the people at Microsoft aren’t stupid. They are in the business of making money and they are damn good at it. If they thought the people at Rare were capable of making them copious amounts of money, they would’ve had them make this game. The people at Double Helix have hired a lot of fighting game enthusiasts and they do seem like a dedicated bunch. From what I've heard, the game plays great -- but I just can’t ignore their shaky past and the games they’ve created.
I realize this might come off as overly negative, but these are real concerns that I have -- and in turn you should have. I can already hear the screams of 'SONY FANBOY!!!,' let me put those to a rest, I am not a fanboy of any console. I want both the Xbox One and PS4 to succeed greatly because in the end, it will only benefit the consumers. I hope Killer Instinct is an awesome fighting game, I want to see it on the main stage of EVO 2014. It’s important to keep your excitement in check, especially in the case of the new KI, so let’s hope for the best and expect the worst.
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