There are a lot of talks about companies monetizing their games. We hate on loot boxes. We talk about what kinds of microtransactions are and are not okay. But there is a certain sort of DLC that can kind of fit comfortably into the realm of normal DLC and microtransactions. While it is controversial, it is not for the reason we tend to expect. I am talking about fanservice add-ons. These are the cosmetic extras that appear for a game, often eliciting groans because they are so ridiculous or unnecessary.
But the thing is, these sorts of cosmetic add-on can actually benefit people. I mean, not all people, since some people do not care for them. But they are the sort of item that you can get if you want or avoid if you prefer. By existing, they provide companies, usually smaller ones, with a revenue option. Not only that, but it gives people who really do love a character or game a way to enhance their experience and support a company. Fanservice can make things work for a great many people.
I mean, let’s look at a recent release that helps support this thought. Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash just came to PCs, bringing with it all of its DLC. There are tons of extra outfits, as well as some more characters like Sonico and some girls from Dead or Alive Xtreme 3. There is over $300 worth of costumes available. These add things like more swimsuits, school uniforms, and maid dresses. All of which are sexy, because that is how the whole fanservice thing works. In this case, these kinds of add-ons suit the theme of the game. Plus, it provides funding to XSEED, a company that has a tendency to take chances on niche and unusual games. People who like the game get more costumes, XSEED gets more money to keep on doing what it is doing, and even people who do not want these costumes benefit, because that money helps a company they like. Maybe that money from Senran Kagura costumes helped put XSEED in a place where it made it easier to localize the Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns DLC.
Gal Gun: Double Peace is another prime example of this situation. Now, this is an incredibly niche, on-rails shooter where you hit young women with a special sort of pleasurable gun in order to keep them away from you so you can reach your true love. It has almost $215 worth of DLC, with $125 of that being costume sets and accessory items. The $90 Pheromone Z item gives you X-ray vision, so you can see through clothing to the underwear underneath. Now, this is absolutely a game for a very specific crowd of people. (Which is great for them. You do what makes you happy in your games.) Inti Creates is a smaller developer which, aside from Gal Gun, makes Azure Striker Gunvolt and Blaster Master Zero. People who like this game get more varied characters to see. Inti Creates gets more funding for its projects and is able to stay afloat. People who like Inti Creates, but do not enjoy Gal Gun, maybe get more games like Blaster Master Zero or Mighty Gunvolt Burst.
Finally, we come to one of the most famous fanservice DLC games. It is Dead or Alive 5: Last Round. This is Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo’s free-to-play fighting game. Now, Dead or Alive is a great series, though it might not quite be at Street Fighter or Smash Bros. levels of popularity. This game has $1,290 worth of DLC. Most of that is costumes, though some are characters like Marie Rose, Akira, Gen Fu, and Zack. Now, while those kinds of costs may seem outrageous, this is actually a rather positive situation. This is a free-to-play game, to start. The 31 DLC characters are $3.99 each, coming out to $123.69. Mai Shiranui is $16.18 with her costumes. The story mode is $14.99. You can buy who and what you want. All of that other content is supplemental and cosmetic. People support it as much as they do or don’t want, with ultimate control over their experience. Team Ninja gets money to keep supporting this game and stay open so they can make other titles like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Nioh. Everyone wins.
Fanservice is not for everyone. Some people do not appreciate pandering in games, and that is okay. But then, there are those who do enjoy it, and that is okay too. What is important to realize is that this sort of add-on can be good for everyone. People who buy it get items that are completely optional and often cosmetic, enhancing the game for them. Companies get more money that helps keep them afloat and allows them to continue releasing niche games. And, when you think about it, people who do not buy the DLC benefit too, as it means companies and developers like XSEED, Inti Creates and Team Ninja get to keep on doing what they are doing.