DOA5 goes Freemium?! – A Potentially GOOD Thing?!

I think it has been well established that I like DOA5. A lot. As such I have had an intense interest in the upcoming “Ultimate” edition that promises to add 5 new characters, new stages, new moves, and multiple tweaks and enhancements. Billed as getting both a boxed and a digital release, I was curious as to if it could be downloaded as an expansion Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition-style.

As time goes on that is starting to look less and less likely and I do find it disappointing. I find it even more disappointing that they just confirmed that DOA5 Ultimate will not be compatible with the recently released DOA5+ on Vita.

But perhaps the most eyebrow raising thing is how they’re handling the digital release of the game: DOA5 is going Freemium.

Called Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate: Core Fighters, players will be able to download the game for free with four playable characters: Kasumi, Ayane, Hayate, and Hayabusa. These characters can be used in every mode except Story. This includes Training and Online play against people who own the boxed release of DOA5 Ultimate. Additional characters can be tried out in Training mode and purchased at a cost of $4 per character (amusingly less than the cost of a costume pack) and the story mode can be purchased for $15.

At first this is likely to cause fan outrage, especially since Team Ninja was very vocal about how they would never charge money for DLC character…and now they’re building an entire game around it!

However, I think this is a good thing.

How so? Well, you see, no one played DOA5. Even amongst the hardcore fighting game community, DOA5 was barely even a blip on the radar. Injustice: Gods Among Us recieved more attention than DOA5! The DOA name is, in a way, tarnished and there is seemingly nothing that can be done to resolve this. It doesn’t matter how much they improve the game or fix all of its flaws, people don’t even want to give it a chance.

So, giving the game away for free complete with online play might turn the tide. Now it’s a “Why the heck not!” sort of thing. I mean it is a fighting game completely free. Why not give it a chance? If nothing else you can go online and “show everyone what a scrub game it is”…and then find out there’s a lot more to it than you think.

It also means that if you have a favorite choice character, you could just purchase them and it’s essentially a $4 game. Most folks tend to stick to one or two characters anyway.

It also means there will be a steady stream of competition for people to fight. When you give away free online play, it tends to attract people.

Perhaps this will cause people who previously ignored DOA5 to actually give the game a chance and allow it to gain some degree of popularity. Really it’s about the only chance the series has at this point.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen people turn down free awesomeness many many times before. It’s not like I’m bitter or anything about Dungeon Fighter Online closing down!

Having said that, they are currently making no guarantees about a 360 release of the freemium version. Most likely because of all the hassle they went through in the past. Judging from the website it’s clear they are going to try, however the plan could fail on 360. Microsoft’s way of handling such things has traditionally been…irritating.

On a related note, Tank! Tank! Tank! has also gone freemium on the WiiU. Fascinating.

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