Does Splatoon Prove DLC Can Be Done Right?
Downloadable Content, or DLC for short, has been quite a highly debated topic ever since the last generation of consoles introduced us to the concept that a game can be expanded through additional content. Yet as most unexplored business concepts, it was natural that the concept was not fully understood and lead to high prices for specific DLCs, the implementation of content on the actual discs, which only can be unlocked by paying a certain amount of money even after its official release to even the concept that game can now be published within a specific release date and fixed through patched released later on. The digital environment has changed the way we see video games, but now with another controversial introduction of the Season Pass, it seems almost frustrating the way these things are being handled. However, among all those given examples, Nintendo has a little game titled Splatoon that might be a perfect example of how DLC is done right. Let us explore the concept.
A Small Start…
One thing, Nintendo knew from the start was that the game wasn’t going to manage its release date with a massive amount of content. As a multiplayer focused game where you take control of squid-human hybrids that try to settle scores by inking a map, the game was only released with a brief single player experience to learn the ropes, a handful of maps and two types of online gaming modes, regular battles in Turf Wars and the ranked Splat Zone games. While there was quite a selection of weapons and costumes offered in the game, it still could be considered bare bones for a release title.
While people did point out that the gaming was quite addictive and it kept quite close to Nintendo’s way of making games suitable for all ages, probably creating the most child friendly shooter to date, it was criticized for being quite empty. The single player mode was simply an extended tutorial for the controls and one could even only use a specific type of weapons, mostly shooters and rollers, and the few starting maps were constantly repeated, which could get tiresome after a while.
…To An Expanding Future
Yet, as I stated Nintendo was aware of this fact and simply made an early statement that the game is aimed to receive continuous support by adding various stages, modes, weapons and clothing. While it is unsure how long this will indeed be the fact, up to this point they have added quite an amount of weapons, such as the Slosher, a bucket that throws ink, the Heavy Splatling, which is pretty much an ink gatling gun and just recently a new form of sniper rifle titled the Bamboozler 14Mk I. A plethora of various maps were added as wel each with an individual flair and even existing maps were aesthetically changed to even making the revisit of existing maps enjoyable.
What is the greatest part behind all of this? All DLC up to this point, as far as I am aware of, has been for free and is aimed to keep the game fresh and long-lasting. With rumors stating that the next Nintendo console, currently titled the NX, might already arrive next year, it could look well for Splatoon to keep expanding over the course of the coming year. In addition, Splatoon has build up quite a dedicated fan base that keeps everyone updated on what is happening in the fictional city of Inkopolis. This was especially further developed by Nintendo itself by introducing the Splat Fest concept, where the game asks you to join one of two teams and fight for your favorite team to win, the most recent one focusing on Autobots and Decepticons in the United States. Don’t worry any international readers, each country even gets a different theme, which is another brilliant move by Nintendo to keep the interest up internationally to play the game.
Why Is It Effective?
Besides the obvious fact that there were no additional charges to the game for this DLC so far, the best aspect of the way they handle the game is that it is a perfect example of giving a game longevity. Splatoon can be marketed as a suitable game for competitions, but also gives people a reason to constantly return to the game and try out the different weapons or fight for whatever side they stand for. It is the true definition of adding content and value to a game that started off to be quite overpriced considering how much content was available at launch.
Should every game do this? No, this is a concept that requires a considerable amount of dedication from the staff behind the game and also the game itself has to be created with this in mind. Looking at the way set-ups are created for Splatoon, one can easily see how easy it is for them to take an existing weapon, add little design changes and mix-up the set-up, may it be a Kraken with Splat Bombs, or a Inkstrike with mines. The game was already created with this thought in mind. Especially considering the game is focused on multiplayer, it makes sense that new weapons are added that can mix up the gameplay and even create new balances or even fix existing issues instead of just adding a simple patch that maybe makes one weapons weaker than the other. It still is a lesson many games should take, as it doesn’t require a Season Pass of $40 to $50 to receive DLC that mostly isn’t even clearly defined or 100% sure to be released. When creating DLC take into account how it affects your game and if it even is worth the price. Mortal Kombat X has created a Season Pass concept with its Kombat Pack to receive new characters for the game, which are quite pricey in my personal opinion. Yet I have to add that they have added some costumes and Fatalities for free in addition, which might be a sign that we are heading into the right direction on how DLC should be handled.
I could go on and on regarding the topic, but while I am waiting for a potential Nintendo 3DS version of the game, I think many people will appreciate the way it is being handled so far. All information regarding Splatoon is from splatoonwiki.org if you are interested check it out. What have your experiences been? What is your opinion on the matter? Leave a comment below!
 Cf. IGN (2015): http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/07/02/rumors-suggest-nintendo-is-targeting-a-2016-nx-release-date-production-begins-in-october, Dated: 02.09.2015.