The surge of downloadable content has become a staple in the gaming industry for years now, with constant debates circulating around both the morality and necessity of charging players extra for additional features, characters or story. Mortal Kombat 11 may be the latest game to fall under scrutiny for doing this after announcing prices for its most recent DLC, Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath.
In a recent Reddit post, fans of the game noted just how extreme the pricing was for the upcoming expansion. One expansion pack has already been released for the game, which featured 6 additional characters and a few bundles of cosmetic items; it retailed for $39.99. The Aftermath expansion will be another $39.99, bringing along new story chapters and three new characters.
All in all, players who bought the game on day one, and who picked up the DLC as it dropped—including Aftermath, will have spent a grand total of $140. As expected, many weren’t thrilled over this revelation.
“I’m not going to spend upwards $200 or more (which it will come out to be with future content) on a single game. That’s absurd,” said one comment. Another called it “a kick in the teeth for everyone who supported the game from the start, especially when you see what the other offers are.”
One look at the bundles being offered for Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath reveals why some players have been irritated by the pricing. For those who have yet to buy Kombat Pack 1, a bundle that includes both it and Aftermath, is available for $49.99, effectively slashing off $29.99. The biggest savings for newcomers is in the Kollection pack, which includes the base game and both expansions for only $59.99.
This means diehard fans—who wouldn’t want to wait a year before playing—are paying more than double the price of the base game to keep up with DLC releases, while more casual players—who might not have an issue putting off the purchase—only have to pay a fraction of the price.
There are some players who don’t have an issue with this. “I’m not afraid to pay $140 total for Mortal Kombat, [a] game that I’ve gotten hundreds of hours of entertainment out of,” read one countering comment. “If I get another 50+ hours out of each one it’s worth it to me and reasonable.”
Longtime fans of the franchise will be no stranger to this type of controversy. In 2011, Mortal Kombat: Komplete Edition was released a year after the reboot’s original drop date. No doubt due to the success of its predecessor, Mortal Kombat X did the same thing with Mortal Kombat XL, this time facing an increase in backlash from fans who had already invested heavily in the game.
So will things be different this time around? Will players decide to boycott this new expansion or demand some kind of discount for buying early?
Chances are heavy that answer will be a firm no. The Mortal Kombat series has been one of the most popular and longest running video game series in history, leaving a mark on the industry that will never fade away. With Mortal Kombat 11 easily becoming one of the best-selling games released in 2019, there’s no doubt that players will continue to support NetherRealm in whatever they do with the franchise.
Despite the debates around cost and DLC, it’s clear the creators behind Mortal Kombat have a special connection with their fans most developers can only dream of experiencing. Ed Boon’s Twitter presence remains one of the most fun aspects about being a Mortal Kombat fan, and from releasing love-letter stages to incorporating cheeky fan-servicing elements into their games, it’s evident NetherRealm loves their fans just as much as they love them. With such a strong bond between player and developer, you can see why something like a grand total of $140 for a single game—extras included—might be overlooked.
However, this type of trust can be incredibly easily to manipulate.
It may never be revealed who exactly is behind the pricing of Mortal Kombat’s DLC. While it’s more likely Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment—who publishes and therefore profits off each iteration of the franchise—is the driving force behind setting costs, there’s more variables now than ever. Video game production is only getting more expensive, meaning studios like NetherRealm face roadblocks if their publisher expects any dips in profits.
Still, who’s to say this type of release strategy isn’t the only thing keeping developers comfortable, creative and as confident in what they create as they are now? Without the massive amounts of success—and money—brought from both the base game and DLC, perhaps NetherRealm wouldn’t be as capable of making such quality products were they distracted by the looming fist of a massive publisher like Warner Bros.
Or maybe it’s just greed.
One thing’s for sure: gamers are starting to notice. Whether or not they act on it remains just as uncertain as the reasoning behind WB’s recent business decisions. Unfortunately, controversies like the one sparked by Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath could soon become nothing more than another change in the gaming industry we’ll all have to grow used to. That is, unless consumers push publishers to start thinking differently. Even then, we may see consequences emerge towards both fans and developers should earnings sink.
Do you think it’s worth it?
Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath arrives on May 26th.