I absolutely love Nintendo’s approach to downloadable content. Be it Mr. Iwata himself or some programmer who worked on Nintendo Land, it seems the idea of only offering DLC that adds substantial value has permeated everyone and everything in the company. I can attest to it personally, too – I purchased every single DLC pack in Fire Emblem: Awakening, and it was by far the most fun-for-my-dollar DLC I’ve ever sprung for. You mileage may vary, but not by much.
In a recent 4Gamer interview with Pokémon art director Ken Sugimori on Pokémon X and Y, the man who draws Pikachu was very clear about how he, Game Freak, and The Pokémon Company feel about the prospect of charging a fee per Pocket Monster.
When it comes to business, the one thing I’ve always said ‘no!’ to is ‘the act of buying Pokémon with money.’ That is something that has been said since the days [Satoshi] Tajiri was completely involved in everything. The reason being, is because it’s one of the things that could ‘ruin the worldview’ of Pokémon.
I believe the reason we don’t simply commercialize [Pokémon], is that it’s a way of protecting the brand, and for this purpose, we have the specialty company called The Pokémon Company. Therefore, suppose we sell a Pokémon for 100 yen, then we must prepare something that is worthy of that 100 yen, along with a reasonable consent for doing so.
He makes great points, and I can’t help but agree with his comment regarding the series’ “worldview.” Think about it – Pokémon games are often rife with feelings of discovery, opportunities for adventure, and characters who kindly offer up their idealist takes on life. Imagine Youngster Timmy down on Route 1 telling you to always work hard and let your bonds with your Pokémon prevail, only to offer you up his shiny Pidgey for a cool $2.50 a moment later. It feels wrong just thinking about it.
Mr. Sugimori stopped short of denouncing DLC for all future games in the series, stating as per usual that it would need to provide a significant value proposition.
If we ever get the idea of ‘this could be fun if we could sell it for real-life money,’ or something similar during the planning of a future game, then perhaps we could sell them for 100 yen.
As interesting as truly great Pokémon DLC could be, I personally find the concept too scary to really wish for. For now I’ll gladly sink 250+ hours into Pokémon X and Y sans downloadable extras, thanks.