Splatoon’s On-Disc DLC Is Actually Good for the Community

Splatoon Wii USplatoon landed on the Wii U last week, bringing multiplayer inky goodness to Nintendo’s little console. And, while it’s not a flawless game by any means, it proves that Nintendo is still capable of inventing new IP with loads of charm; Splatoon is a ton of fun.

However, it’s been suggested that Splatoon’s upcoming DLC packs (a substantial amount of content) are already on the game disc, and Nintendo is holding them back from paying customers. There are vocal members of the gaming community who are pretty upset about this. (I’ll admit there is some ambivalence toward this as well.)

Now, I can relate. My hair follicles stand on end when I hear the phrase “on-disc DLC,” and I’ve been burned more times than I can count by publishers who try to shakedown their customers by hiding day-one content behind a paywall. It’s a disgusting practice, and it diminishes a lot of the things I love about the concept of DLC. (Capcom is especially guilty of this, and I spent more of 2011 and 2012 complaining about that particular company than I did actually playing their games.)

Splatoon Wii UBut in this case, I’m actually on Nintendo’s side. Splatoon‘s DLC is a brilliant idea that’s going to keep the game fresh for much longer.

The prime factor here is that all this content (new game modes, costumes, weapons, etc.) is supposedly going to be free; we’ll just have to wait a bit before it’s available. If Nintendo were charging for this stuff, I’d be a part of the mob screaming at them, but they aren’t doing that. They’re simply staggering the release of their content.

Ultimately, this is good for the community. Instead of releasing all the content at once and spending the next several months working on an update, Nintendo can release several small, free updates, each granting new items to be available through gameplay. This gives players more incentive to come back to the game once it’s been out for a few weeks, and it discourages players from spending 3 days unlocking items and then putting the game down forever.

And, when a game’s main draw is online play, having a player base that keeps coming back is a huge boon for the long-term health of the community.

Splatoon Wii UOf course, some people are complaining about the fact that there is additional content that can only be unlocked via the purchase of an amiibo, and those people have a valid point. However, the locked content is merely the option to play through the single-player campaign with a different weapon in order to unlock a single outfit. The gameplay content is tedious, and the only benefit of completing it is that you’ll earn an exclusive new outfit. While the outfits are admittedly pretty awesome, they’re small enough bonuses that I’ll forgive Nintendo for locking them behind an amiibo.

Of course, amiibo scarcity is absolutely a problem, and I don’t blame people for their frustration over this. (Though, to be fair, I’ve seen the Splatoon amiibo figures in stock at several locations already, and I had no trouble purchasing both the boy and girl. That three-pack is pretty much impossible to find, though, and that’s a legitimate problem.)

Still, Nintendo’s plan of spreading out content updates over the summer is one that I think will pay off for the Splatoon community, and I hope it leads to the development of even more Splatoon content in the future.

  • xPhoenixMoon

    Only with Nintendo will you hear anyone make up such dumb excuses for crap like this. Any other developers releases a game like this and they get bashed so hard, Nintendo releases an extremely bare bones game with locked content and all the sudden it’s a good thing?

    Sometimes I really hate being apart of this fan base.

    • Josh Wirtanen

      Not true. The Witcher 3 did essentially the same thing, and CDPR is being praised for it. (16 free DLC packs post-launch, 2 per week). You could argue that the difference is that Splatoon’s content is on-disc and Witcher’s isn’t, but since all of it comes with the purchase of your game, it’s part of the game that you just have to be patient and wait for.

      And Nintendo doesn’t get a free pass from me just for being Nintendo. I’m actually in the middle of recording a podcast episode in which I spend at least 20 minutes complaining about how “anti-fan” Nintendo is becoming as a company.

      In this particular case, though, Splatoon dies as soon as its online community does. It has a single-player campaign, but its meat and potatoes is its online mode. By staggering content release, N is ensuring that it has a longer shelf life. That means that if I buy the game 3 months after launch, I can still enjoy a thriving online community. By releasing the entire game at once, N would be encouraging people to blaze to level cap, get all the collectible goodies, and then leave. The hardcore community would die after a few weeks, and most of the rest of the community would slowly drop off over the next few months. That means that people who get Spatoon for an autumn birthday present, say, would get just a fraction of the product that everyone else got who bought it day one.

      If N were charging extra money for this content, I would be mad as hell. But they’re not. It’s free. It’s a part of the game you paid for; you just have to wait for it.

      The bottom line: This isn’t a way to gouge people for money; it’s a way to keep a long online lifespan to ensure that latecomers can enjoy a good online experience. It’s simply better for the game’s community.

      The knee-jerk reaction is to be automatically upset about “on-disc DLC,” but in this case, if you plan on enjoying Splatoon for a good portion of the summer (and you should; it’s a pretty great game), this is a way to ensure that you actually get your money’s worth and have people to play with/against for the foreseeable future.

    • FirestoneX .

      refer to my other comment on why the locked content is a good thing.

  • FirestoneX .

    I am very much in favor of how Nintendo is doing the time locked “dlc” ( Yes, I know it’s not really dlc).. I really don’t see what people are bitching about. It is a great business move and great for the community. First off, it’s free. But more importantly, it makes you want to keep playing the game. I look forward to logging into the game every week and seeing what new weapon, map, ect that has been unlocked. It makes the game world feel more alive and less like just another game, like it’s a community event, and not just a game.. It also makes the game a whole lot more fun. I got to level 20 in a week. I have all the cloths I want and working on getting the stats that I want for the cloths, but other than that, I am pretty much finished with the game. But now I have ranked mode to play on, and just recently Tower Control just came out, which switches thing up. New content and modes will shortly follow.. The point is, that I would probably already be bored of the game because I have seen and done everything in it. But with all the new content coming, it keeps me coming back for more. I can’t believe some people are actually angry by this. It was the best possible way to release the game in my opinion.

    • Josh Wirtanen

      Excellent!

      Yes, I think this was the mindset behind the decision. Rather than make something that would get stale over a week or so, it has a long-term lifepsan that keeps throwing new angles and details at you that make it worth returning to. I love it!