News – The Batmen


Now those of you who follow videogame news even loosely will know that Batman Arkham City, the much anticipated followup to Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham Asylum has been receiving a lot of coverage.

Most recently, this is because it’s had a full five new costumes announced that you can dress Batman up in for the Challenge maps. This is, on the surface, quite cool. Now not only can we play as everyone’s favourite feline and the Boy Wonder but six different versions of Batman.

The costumes are based on various incarnations the Caped Crusader has had over the years, and it’s a bit like The Dark Knight’s Greatest Hits. There’s the Batman Beyond suit used by Terry McGinnis, the protege of an aging Bruce Wayne. Then you’ve got an old Batman, the one from Frank Miller’s classic The Dark Knight Returns. Next up is another of Miller’s, this time it’s the suit he wore in Batman: Year One, the massively popular retelling of Bruce’s first year fighting crime with cape and cowl.

Then there’s a traditional 70’s era look that sports the blue cape and yellow chestplate that used to be standard for the World’s Greatest Detective. Finally is a very faithful recreation of the Batman we saw in Batman: The Animated Series.

No love for Adam West?

They're the Goddamn Batmen

Now as the more observant of you may have noted, I earlier said that this is a good thing ‘on the surface’. Now it’s time for that timebomb to go off. You see, not only will you only get one of these suits if you preorder the game from the right store but they’re not even making them all available in every country.

You may think that’s a minor thing, but when a preorder bonus is a purely digital addition to a game like a costume pack or extra weapon instead of something physical like art cards or t-shirts this is almost never later made available as DLC. The kind of people who’ll put in a preorder at somewhere they wouldn’t normally shop or just picking the game up at launch are the type of people who will pay for every piece of preorder content as DLC.

You are missing out on a huge pile of cash. Sure, you don’t want it to be day one DLC, that’d undermine the entire premise of the bonus. And I’m not saying stop the incentivising. But six months, a year down the line? You can easily role this out as DLC for every country. Put all five of them together in a value pack, or price them so low that people think ‘I can afford £1.50’.

Social games have got the microtransaction system down, the mainstream gaming industry needs to learn the lessons it can from social games and other mediums. There’s been a lot of failed schemes like Online Passes and DRM to to convince people to buy your games new, but you don’t make it easy for us. If a book, film or album sells well, they keep making it. Games don’t. Unless it makes its way to digital distribution, you pretty much can’t buy a game new a few months after its release.

If people will keep buying it, keep providing it. That people have to be so reliant on the preowned market for games they couldn’t afford, didn’t know about or weren’t interested in at release means that they’ve become conditioned to buy later and cheaper than buy on release.

Don’t try to force us to come to you, cause that’ll just make us resist harder. Be like Valve, build up a good relationship with your fans, based on listening to them and making business and design decisions not always based on profit mongering.

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