Quick Hits: Free-LC

Things might be turning around for our friends at Arc System Works.

Last night’s unveiling of the Evo 2018 games lineup didn’t have a whole lot of surprises; most figured that Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition would be there, as well as the likes of Dragon Ball FighterZ and Super Smash Bros. Melee. But there was one reveal that caught many, present company included, very much off-guard.

BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, a game that found itself waist-deep in controversy with dodgy DLC plans a month ago, was announced as a part of the official Evo 2018 lineup. But in addition to that, Arc System Works announced that RWBY’s Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long were both going to be free downloadable content for everyone.

While it doesn’t answer people’s questions about details like the pricing for both the base game and downloadable character packs, this is very much a step in the right direction. RWBY‘s main quartet making their fighting game debut is arguably one of the larger draws of Cross Tag Battle, and the fact that half the team would be DLC didn’t sit well with many. It’s hard to tell whether or not this was Arc System Works’ plan all along, but regardless, it’s a solid move that should bring back anyone turned away by the initial DLC announcement.

Hopefully, Arc System Works will be just as smart about everything else going forward.

‘Til we meet again,
Tom

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Cross Tag Controversy

Remember how excited I was for BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle a few months back? Let’s just say things have changed a bit.


During this blog’s Holiday downtime, Arc System Works plugged along with announcing new characters for their team-based fighter, a four-franchise showcase following what is arguably their tentpole fighting game for 2018, Dragon Ball FighterZ. But while both games received positive press throughout the second half of 2017, Cross Tag Battle’s general perception went into a tailspin at the turn of the year.

Arc System Works’ Fighting Game Awards earlier in January presented a handful of new information on Cross Tag Battle, including official release dates. The game will release on May 31st in Japan, and June 5th everywhere else, meaning it will be coming out barely a year after its initial announcement at the Evo World Fighting Game Championship last July. A surprise, to be sure, but it didn’t seem bad…at least, until fans heard the next bit of news.

(Screencap courtesy of Arc System Works’ January trailer for BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle)

The game’s roster will clock in at 40 characters from across the BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth, and RWBY universes. However, only the characters revealed between Evo and the ASW Fighting Game Awards will be available from the start, and since 20 characters had been unveiled in that period, it effectively means that the game will release with half a roster. The other half will be downloadable content, divvied up into six packs of three characters apiece, and two standalone characters.

What’s more, it was announced that Blake Belladonna of RWBY would be among those 20 DLC characters, presumably one of the two standalones. That revelation has lead to assumptions that Yang Xiao Long from the same series would be the other standalone DLC character, and that in turn indicates that Cross Tag Battle’s launch roster will only feature RWBY’s other two heroines, Ruby Rose and Weiss Schnee.

Needless to say, backlash came in hot and heavy once word started making the rounds.


Really, what needs to be said that already hasn’t been? Of all the things Arc System Works could have done with Cross Tag Battle, paywalling half of its roster is the most boneheaded decision they could have made. Splitting up Team RWBY at the same time is just as short-sighted, and it’s an especially bad sting in the tail for any RWBY fans that might’ve been looking forward to this game on the premise that the series was getting a moment in the fighting game limelight for the first time.

Yes, there’s additional money to be made, and I understand wanting the game to have legs beyond its initial release. I also get that the RWBY characters take a little extra investment since they’re the only characters being created for this game from the ground-up. At the same time, however, this isn’t the way to go about turning a profit or extending the game’s lifespan. And as someone who was genuinely looking forward to this title, it’s disappointing. Arc System Works always seemed to be one of the smarter fighting game developers compared to the likes of Capcom, so to see them go down this road hurts.

Thankfully, details have come out recently to clear up the controversy. Director Toshimichi Mori has gone on record saying that the base game and downloadable content together would not total out to be that much more than a standard game, which is usually around $60 before any sales taxes kick in. DLC would also cost less than what it would normally, and if there’s enough positive reception on release, Cross Tag Battle may get additional updates beyond the initial DLC.

Arc System Works also mentioned on their official Twitter account that they have heard the outcry from fans, and as of this writing, will present something “very soon.”


Given the nature of this situation, there are a few potential scenarios that could play out. The first is that Arc System Works simply announces the official price points for both the base game and DLC, with the former being around $40 and the latter around $20 in total. Those prices wouldn’t be that bad in the long run, since, again, it would altogether cost about as much as a modern-day game would. While it still doesn’t fix the issue of having half the game’s cast locked behind a paywall, at least people would not be paying an arm and a leg for a complete roster.

Alternatively, Arc System Works could make substantial changes to their DLC plans. In this case, Arc System Works would delay the game’s releases by a month or two, and use the extra time to put Blake, Yang, and characters from two of the six DLC packs onto the main roster.

Personally, I’d argue the second scenario would work best. While it’s not a huge increase, 28 characters is a solid base to begin with for a tag fighter, and Arc System Works would still be able to add to the roster with the dozen DLC characters they have left. Plus, having all of Team RWBY will be sure to sway RWBY fans into purchasing the game early; whether or not they buy the DLC that comes afterward depends on whether or not the BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena and Under Night characters provide a knock-on effect.

With that being said, however, it’s more likely that Arc System Works will simply announce that the game and the DLC will be sold at lower price points than normal. It feels like this game is being made on a smaller budget than Dragon Ball FighterZ was, and a delay to implement more characters might not justify whatever is left. And while this is dipping more into tin foil hat territory, there could be internal pressure to get this game out as soon as possible to be in the running for this year’s Evo lineup, which is taking place in early August as opposed to the usual middle of July timeframe. It’s not like Arc System Works doesn’t already has a spot at Evo all but assured with Dragon Ball FighterZ’s staggering success, but that’s neither here nor there.


Regardless, Arc System Works needs to be smart about how they address their DLC plans. They already assured fans that they are aware of the backlash, which is a good start. Now it’s on them to prove to fans that they actually listened. And I hope that they have, because as a long-time BlazBlue fan and a more-recent RWBY fan, I want this game to succeed.

Whether or not they do rests squarely on what they do next.

‘Til we meet again,
Tom

Can’t Escape From Switching Fate

(Video courtesy of Arc System Works’ official YouTube page)

One of the most pleasant surprises to come out of last July’s Evo World Championships was the announcement of BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle. Hot off the heels of Central Fiction’s Top 8 finals, Arc System Works revealed that BlazBlue would be stepping into the world of crossover fighters for the first time. It was revealed that the series would be teaming up with characters from two other Arc System Works properties, Persona 4 Arena and Under Night In-Birth.

But to the surprise of many, ASW pulled out one last surprise that day: Rooster Teeth’s animated web series RWBY would be making its fighting game debut here, which meant Cross Tag Battle would be an unprecedented four-way crossover. On an afternoon full of tournament upsets and surprise reveals, this game stood as one of the best of the latter.


Following its July unveiling, ASW has been slowly snowballing momentum with new info. Three more characters were announced in September, and a playable demo was at New York Comic-Con earlier this month.

(Video courtesy of Arc System Works’ official YouTube page)

The real juicy news, however, came the week after Comic-Con. At Rooster Teeth’s inaugural RTX London event, Arc System Works revealed the systems the game would be featured on when it launches next year. These include Sony’s Playstation 4, Steam, and most-notably, the Nintendo Switch.

So. Show of hands: Who saw that coming?

Nintendo has already been having a monster year with the success of the Switch. 2017 has seen an embarrassment of great titles for the system, and there are even more on the way between the rest of this year and all of 2018. This now includes Cross Tag Battle, a title that most would’ve expected to not show up on a Nintendo console.

(Then again, nobody was counting on DOOM and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus to show up on the Switch, either, and yet both are on their way to the Switch.)


What does this mean in the long run? A few observations:

  • Cross Tag Battle gives the Switch another high-profile fighting game franchise for its portfolio in the form of BlazBlue. There’s already a decent array of fighting games for the Switch that include the likes of Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers and Nintendo’s own ARMS, as well as smaller upcoming fighters like Blade Strangers. But Arc System Works is considered by many to be one of the best non-Capcom fighting game developers in the industry. They’re responsible for three of Cross Tag Battle’s four franchises, as well as the upcoming Dragon Ball FighterZ (which could also see a Switch release if the demand is there), and their legendary Guilty Gear series. That’s a helluva feather in Nintendo’s cap.
  • Similar to the previous point, this reaffirms the notion that third parties are willing to work with Nintendo again. A nagging issue during the Wii U’s lifespan was the sparse third-party support, which forced Nintendo to rely on its own franchises and smaller indie developers to fill out the system’s library. Now, developers and publishers like Bethesda, Square-Enix, and Arc System Works are willing to bring the big guns to the Switch’s library. This could even attract developers and publishers that Nintendo didn’t mention last year when the Switch was first shown off.
  • Finally, while I might be reading too far into things, I believe that Cross Tag Battle on the Switch could open the door for future communications between Nintendo and Rooster Teeth Games. Obviously, it doesn’t mean we’ll see a Red vs. Blue Switch title or Team RWBY being in the mix for the next Super Smash Bros. entry, but if all goes well, Rooster Teeth may be keen to call on Nintendo for future game developments. In addition to Rooster Teeth web series properties like RWBY, Camp Camp, or next year’s Gen:Lock, original titles in the vein of Super Rad Raygun and BattleSloths 2025: The Great Pizza Wars could also find homes on the Switch. It’s all just conjecture, of course, but if Rooster Teeth Games and Nintendo strike an alliance, it could make for some interesting stuff in the future.

Nintendo, for the most part, has been hitting all the right notes this year. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2, and ARMS have been home runs, and Super Mario Odyssey is primed to put an exclamation mark on the Switch’s first year in the open. But what’s more, the fact that they managed to get a massive crossover fighting game like BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle on the Switch is a testament to how they’ve turned their fortunes around from the Wii U days. The only question that remains is where Nintendo could go from here.

Nobody truly knows the answer at this point, but I’d say the future’s looking pretty bright.

‘Til we meet again,
Tom