Why Killer Instinct's Business Model Isn't as Bad as You Think

Killer Instinct is trying a different way of doing things, and it's being heavily vilified in the FGC, but it really isn't nearly as bad as people think.

Killer Instinct is Xbox One's launch fighting game, and a grand revival of an old fighting favorite. It turned a lot of heads at E3, but then lost a lot of support when they announced their business model: the game will sell in pieces.  Each pack or season of the game will include a small number of characters and stages.

The first pack, available at launch, will include six characters, as well as two more post launch included in the price. A second pack  will include 8 more characters. The game will also have a free demo that gives players access to one character, Jago, and other characters can be purchased on an individual basis, as opposed to in packs.

Why this isn't bad

It seems pretty crappy that the game is going to be so small at release, right? Well, it's not, necessarily. First of all, the price point is right, the initial 8 character pack costs $20, which by no means is expensive, and is actually cheaper than most DLC characters in fighting games. If three packs of eight characters release at that price, you'll have a $60 fighting game with 24 characters, 5 more characters than were in the initial $60 release of Street Fighter 4.  

The time offset is a bit irritating, but they are still building the game, and it seems like they plan to work on it for a while. The time offset also offsets the cost; it's not $60 all at once, but over a period of time.  Plus, $20 to see if you like the game isn't a bad deal, and you can also play the game for free so long as you don't mind being stuck only ever using Jago.

On the note of characters, another interesting thing is that the game only forces you to buy characters you want. Though we don't know individual character prices yet, if they meet the average for modern fighters and are $5, you could essentially have a $10 fighting game with the ability to play Jago and two other characters you actually like to use. While this doesn't work if you play a lot of couch pickup matches with friends, it's great if you only play online. Though finding out who you want to play might require a friend who buys the initial pack.

Things to keep in mind

Of course, the business model isn't perfect. Everyone wants the whole game now, and the devs likely want to give it to you.  However, the game has been in development for less than a year.  They're having to keep the initial roster small and use a weird business model due to extreme pressure from Microsoft to have the game ready for Xbox One's launch. This business model came into place as a result of that, and while it's getting a lot of hate, there are a lot of reasons to be interested in it.

Keep in mind one other thing, too: a lot of non Street Fighter fighting games have trouble staying relevant.  Great fighters like Persona 4 Arena and Injustice: Gods Among Us slide under the radar of the fighting game community fast if they aren't as perfect as Street Fighter, despite being a much-needed breath of fresh air to a genre that always has to fight to be different.  

Killer Instinct's current release model is going to help keep it relevant for a longer period of time, and the mentality going into developing it might mean that it also becomes a very large game as they introduce new characters to the 15 characters the Killer Instinct franchise already has.  Of course, at present we have no confirmation they'll go past the second season of eight characters, but I feel pretty confident that they will, since a 16 character roster is almost pathetic by today's standards.

What do you guys think about Killer Instinct's business model? Sound off in the comments, and stay tuned to Gameskinny for more Xbox One and fighting game news.

Featured Correspondent

Lifelong gamer, heavily dedicated to Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Sonic, and Pokemon. Will also flip out over hardware related stuffs.

Published Aug. 29th 2013

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