CSG Editorials: A Letter to Arc System Works Regarding BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle
Dear Arc System Works,
Last year you announced BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, a 2v2 crossover fighting game consisting of four franchises: BlazBlue, Under Night, Persona 4 Arena, and RWBY. I was ecstatic, as both a fan of BlazBlue and Persona, but also as a fan of RWBY. You see, I love fighting games, however I am also a die hard RWBY fan. I’ve been watching continuously since the beginning of Volume 3 (catching up before said volume began). I listen to the soundtrack repeatedly, own clothes and merch, and have even bought the poor character action game Grimm Eclipse…twice…with all the DLC. Laud me as a fanboy if you will (you’d probably be right doing so.), but I want to make the point clear how much I enjoy this franchise so that you understand my excitement at Tag’s announcement with said franchises being revealed. The excitement was palpable, and it was one of my most sought-after games of 2018. I say was, because the hype has died.
Recently, you revealed a trailer for Blake Belladonna, a core member of the main cast of RWBY (she’s what the B stands for). While the character looked amazing, there was something off. Previously with your character trailers, multiple characters were shown off (roughly 3-4). I know, because I followed you on Twitter and YouTube sometime shortly after the announcement, so I could keep up with relevant information regarding this and Dragon Ball FighterZ. However, this was only a trailer for Blake. No BlazBlue, no Persona or Under Night, not even any other RWBY, just Blake. And then the reason hit: “Available as downloadable DLC”. The words sprawled in the lower left-hand corner of her trailer portrait read.
This trailer was released alongside news that your base roster would consist of twenty characters, and with twenty more on the way as DLC (Blake most likely being the first). You also revealed the release dates of the game for Japan and the America’s as May and June respectively, alongside information about collector’s editions for PlayStation and Switch owners (according to Gematsu.com).
This is disheartening, not only as a RWBY fan, but as a fighting game fan in general. When one makes a crossover fighting game, time needs to be considered as to whom you represent from said franchises in the game’s roster. Frankly, this facet has been handled poorly. While I understand your first and foremost focus is BlazBlue (as it is your flagship franchise for Team Blue), the roster is heavily skewed and off putting for other fans. Ten characters for BlazBlue, four for Persona, four for Under Night, and a mediocre two for RWBY. For the four franchises represented, one is being put on the first-place podium, two are tied for second, and the last is wallowing in the filth with a participation trophy. RWBY is underrepresented to the point where you only have RW. B and Y (Blake and Yang for anyone reading this that may be unfamiliar) will come down the line as DLC.
I wouldn’t be as upset at this, if it weren’t for the marketing of this game making it seem like franchises were going to get equal treatment. You cared enough to not only give Ruby (the protagonist) her own spotlight in the trailer, but her face on the box art, indicating to all consumers that this game is going to have RWBY facing off against the casts of the other games represented by their respective protagonists on the game’s cover. However, with the roster in it’s current condition, it would have been more honest to say “BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, featuring Ruby and Weiss from the RWBY series.” The level of representation a series has when making a crossover is important, hence why Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne isn’t labled as SMTxDMC. There isn’t enough RWBY to warrant such a spotlight in the first place. Those who don’t follow the news of the game after it’s initial announcement would be none the wiser, and as such, severely disappointed upon release. However, the lack of BY from RWBY is only one of many issues.
As previously mentioned, you have a plan to release twenty characters as DLC fighters down the line, in various packs (or the “all in one pack” if consumers so prefer) featuring Blake Belladonna and nineteen other mystery fighters (we could also guess Yang being on there, but I thought they would have been in the base game to begin with, so I’ll side with uncertainty). There are three ways to slice this information. The optimistic consumer will say “Wow, that’s double the cast!”, the negative response will be “Wow, that’s half the cast!”, and the realist will say “That’s more money I’ll have to pay out of pocket if I want the “full” experience.” How is it that a game such as Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, a game that released over a decade ago, has a total of 56 characters that can all be unlocked through gameplay? This is all without discussing that your game is 4-5 months away from its release. Is it truly too late in development to add at least some of these characters to the base roster?
Credit to Afterimage Gaming-Arc System Works Goes Further Beyond!
The most disappointing part of this entire fiasco is that the public praised you for being better than your competition. When you announced Dragon Ball FighterZ and Cross Tag Battle, the internet raced to stand by your side against “The tyranny of Capcom” who were preparing for the launch of Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite. Videos were made showcasing you as Goku, obliterating the evil competition. Fans were waiting with bated breath for news about anything and everything to do with these games. Now they’re left wondering who they can trust. In an economy where the consumer can’t trust their company to deliver quality product without some underlying fee or catch, what are they supposed to do? The answer is they’ll cut costs where they can to ensure they’re making the best deal for themselves. It means waiting for the inevitable “Complete” edition you’re so fond of releasing, it means waiting for pre-owned copies to eventually find their ways to stores and playing more economically sound games while they wait for yours to go on sale.
If you think I’m wrong in this assumption, then look at sales figures for games like Street Fighter V, Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, and Street Fighter X Tekken (another crossover fighter that shared similar with yours). Look at the press that games such as Battlefront 2 have received recently, and tell me that you still feel satisfied with what you plan on doing. Word of mouth travels incredibly fast, as is seen by the massive outcry through social media. I’ve encountered coverage of this controversy (and those displeased from it) on the RWBY Nation page on Facebook, outlets on YouTube such as Jim Sterling, and multiple personalities on Twitter, such as Core A Gaming, and other fighting game players (not to mention the commenters on the Rooster Teeth’s Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as your own). If you don’t want to remain in this state of public disapproval (and you shouldn’t), then please allow me to direct you to some solutions you can take.
If you want to regain your fanbase and its trust in you, then you must make a change. Fortunately, you should have enough time to do so. You need to add Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long to your base roster, so that each franchise can be at least somewhat equally represented. You need to detail what consumers can expect to see in the DLC packs you plan to release, so that we know whether we want to buy a la carte, or bundled (if at all). You need to reduce the amount of characters as DLC, and put them in the base game (instead of twenty, we need a maximum of ten as DLC). You need to understand that when consumers are shown a product, they want that product to deliver. Practices as egregious as this can no longer be tolerated in the 2018 marketplace. They won’t be when consumers begin finding alternatives and voting with their wallets. You have roughly four months to stake the flames and fix your problems Arc System Works, otherwise you’ll be losing many valuable customers (myself included). You’re left with one question that only you can decide: Heaven or Hell?
Christopher Nickalas Koep