On the TEKKEN 6 IGN Blog, series producer Katsuhiro Harada shared his thoughts on unlockable characters and content. Check out the post by following the link below.
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Hi everyone. I apologize for not updating the blog for a while.
The development schedule has been very tight, and I’ve been on several press tours and arcade tournaments abroad. The press tour schedule in Europe was particularly tight with stops in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK. One day I woke up in Italy, went to Spain that morning, and then had to be in France that evening. I thought I was going to keel over. I actually got sick after returning to Japan.
Speaking of the European press tour, one comment I made there seems to be getting a lot of coverage. I think it was “unlocking characters is outdated.”
I think this was blown a little out of proportion. I said “in the arcade mode or online VS, not being able to use all the characters from the start is something that’s not appropriate these days.” The main body of the articles seems to follow this, but everyone was using the first comment mentioned above in their headlines from what I heard. I’m not saying that unlocking as a system doesn’t have its place in any game. I feel I should explain this a little.
Let’s go back a bit. Younger players might not relate, but over 10 years ago the arcade scene for fighting games was much more alive than on consoles. The competition in the arcade business was rough. The operators, or arcade owners desired games that brought in a lot of income, especially over the long term. Of course new games brought in a lot of income at first but it was hard to maintain that income on a long term basis.
At the time, new fighting games appeared often and the competition was intense. The life span of a new game wasn’t long.
From a game manufacturer’s standpoint, it’s better to have arcade operators buying the latest machines. But the arcade operators want to keep earning money on the machines they’ve already purchased. Of course, that’s perfectly understandable, right? That’s where the time release (character unlock) spec came into the game.
Tekken was a prime example of this as it took several months until all of the characters were available. So of course, events and tournaments held soon after release had fewer selectable characters. After several weeks or months, new characters appeared, increasing the attention the game received. Naturally, the overall game balance and character balance diagrams changed as new characters were unlocked. Players had to adapt their strategy.
From the arcade operator’s perspective, the game received more attention every time a new character appeared and maintained their income as players returned to the game repeatedly. So this system was very favorable to them.
From a manufacturer’s standpoint, it was beneficial for us that our machines were well received so that the arcade operators continued to buy our products.
Now let’s look at this from a player’s perspective. Even at that time, there was player feedback that all characters should be available from the start to ensure the game balance was good so that the competitive element of the game was established.
In an RPG, it’s acceptable that party members or playable characters increase. However in a fighting game, all characters should be playable from the start as it is a tool for competition. This was the feeling of many players at the time and a valid point.
Let’s now return to the present. The fighting game scene is not what it once was in the U.S. and European arcades. Friends often play against each other at home, via the internet, or in tournaments. In the advent of networked home consoles, I think it is necessary to rethink the merit of the character unlock system. Up until TEKKEN 5 for the PS2, many characters had to be unlocked before they could be played. I hope this puts the character unlocking system in perspective and why it’s somewhat archaic. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to say there won’t be any unlockable elements in TEKKEN 6. I never said that unlocking content in general for Tekken, or any other game, is outdated. It’s case-by-case. It would be pretty unthinkable if all of the elements of an RPG or action game were unlocked from the start, right? Lol.
In features other than VS fighting, I think there should be unlockable content or other rewards to look forward to. In RPGs and other games, completing objectives rewards you with new equipment, new party members, or a new chapter in the story. The Scenario Campaign mode in TEKKEN 6 is a lot like that. As you progress through the mode, you unlock new stages and routes, demo scenes, and gain customization items. If all of this were available from the start, there would be nothing to surprise the player with as they progressed through the game!
Ultimately, it is important that all characters are selectable when fighting a friend or opponents online or at tournaments so that competition is fair. This is the point that was made during my interviews that perhaps got lost in some of the headlines.
On a different note, we’re really getting into crunch time now. But we’re doing our best!
Oh, I almost forgot. I sometimes have the opportunity to hang out or chat with different fighting game teams from other companies. Also, I’ve played a lot fighting games from other companies over the past 15 years and have often wondered if there wasn’t something interesting we could work on.
You guys aren’t interested in something like that? I wonder if it’s just me. I would love to hear your opinions on the subject, personally.
Source: TEKKEN 6 IGN Blog