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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mario Kart: Product-Placement!! *Updated 9/10/14*

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - MK:PP!!! I wish we could return to MK:DD!! instead.

Continuing our series of Mario Kart 8-related puns for article titles, this time I have a strong OBJECTION! to the way the Mario Kart 8 DLC is being handled. (Click the link in the past sentence for more information on that DLC.)

TAKE THAT!

The character selection screen after the Mario Kart 8 DLC was updated.
Wh-What's that at the bottom?!
 
The cup selection screen after the Mario Kart 8 DLC updated.
Wh-What are those at the sides?!

Let's review the facts surrounding these disgusting displays of dissemination.

If you waste $12 on buying both DLC packs, you get to basically reserve the contents of those packages until they come out. (One at the end of 2014, the other in the middle of 2015.) You also get alternate Shy Guy and Yoshi colours. By comparison, you get multiple colours of Yoshis, Shy Guys, and a lot of other characters in Mario Superstar Baseball for free. It was right out of the box!

After you make those online-only purchases, however, the tantalizing (and ugly) boxes marking the future appearance of the DLC contents will still remain. In other words, they do not go away. They will remain there forever.

If you never purchase the DLC, they will be there forever in their current forme. If you do purchase the DLC, then when the first package is released half of the boxes will be replaced with usable things. The other half will stay ugly for another half a year.

There was no choice on whether or not to accept the update. The only way to prevent it was to not connect your Wii U to the Internet, which is a terrible idea to begin with. Seeing as how there was no way to know this was coming to begin with, every Wii U owner has just gotten screwed with this unappealing visage. Imagine the little ones who are not even allowed to make purchases online! They don't have a choice but to receive this and suffer!

I just finished getting all 90 stamps in Mario Kart 8. I played the Battle Mode online twice. More than enough to figure out that it's unplayable (people were literally hiding behind rocks in Dry Dry Desert the whole time until the timer ran out). I haven't gotten 3-stars in every cup in every engine size, but that seems like an exercise in the RNG anyway. I haven't gotten every vehicle customization part, either.

And I never will, because even if I do manage to keep playing/grinding until I do that, there is one thing I'll never be able to obtain through skill or luck: The courses, vehicles, and characters obtained through the DLC packages. And to remind me of that every time I play the game are these wretched placeholder boxes that you cannot get rid of.

Update: There are some possible common objections to this article that are within the scope of this article to talk about. These include that the DLC is good value, and that this is much hysteria over nothing.

People claim that the DLC increases the game's content by 50% for 1/5 of the price. This is a dishonest argument. When, at any point in Mario Kart history, did we judge the game's content solely by the quantity of courses? We've never done that before. Why are we doing that now? Mario Kart: Double-Dash!! had only 16 courses. They were all new and well-designed. Mario Kart 8 has 16 new courses and 16 old-but-revamped courses. I am not going to sit here and say Mario Kart 8 has 50% more content than Mario Kart: Double-Dash!!. That would be excluding all the features stripped from then to now, such as a fun Battle Mode. Quantity over quality has never been the Nintendo way, and yes, Mario Kart 8 does focus on quantity over quality. Look at the roster! While some of the courses in Mario Kart 8 did impress me, the majority of the courses in the game aren't that memorable or great. The DLC could change that, but then you have to think something is fishy behind it. Remember, half of the DLC courses are going to be "retro" courses.

The DLC is not increasing every aspect of the game by 50%. Therefore it is not increasing the game's content by 50%. Understand?

The other complaint is that this really does not matter, or Nintendo is allowed to ruin the game's interface for a few screens because it's their game. Yes, they are allowed to do that. It's not elegant at all (which also goes against another Nintendo user interface value) but they can do it. This does show the danger of the always-connected world that people complained against Microsoft for. Back in the day of Mario Kart: Double-Dash!!, Nintendo could not, even if they wanted to, ruin the interface of the game. They couldn't "improve" it either. What you got out of the box was the final product. This meant they had to get it right the first time. And they did. Now with this always-connected stuff, developers are encouraged to rush their products to market because they can always patch it later. And hey, it means the team can stay together after a product is shipped! Their work isn't truly done! They can still get paid as a team making patches and DLC! It's good for the developer, and it only burdens the consumer. I may be known for my supposedly pro-business anti-consumer stance on these pages, but this really hurts the developer too. It ruins the nature of videogames as an art forme. You can't automatically "patch" movies, books, television, or any other forme of art. Well, for television you can come sort of close, but once it's aired that's the whole product right there and no one can take that away from you.

From a marketing ethics perspective, this is absolutely terrible. You spring up this hideous design on people because you want their money. They miss the old, elegant design they had when they last turned their Wii U on. So suppose they have the ability to make micro-transactions. Which, again, not everyone can do. After all, many people, including myself, bought a physical copy of Mario Kart 8. That "traditional" way of purchasing games is still a major part of the industry. It makes sense that those who wouldn't buy a game digitally wouldn't purchase digital downloadable content, either. 

But I digress. Suppose you can do that. You want to buy this because you think you will get your old menus back. You spend $12 to buy both packages at once, because you need to buy both of them at once to completely get rid of both of the sets of ugly intrusions. You buy the DLC just for that purpose, really, but you convince yourself that a future of Pink Gold Peach is something you want. You don't really want that, but you delude yourself anyway to not regret your purchase. Once you do make that buy, to your horror, the product placement boxes are still there.

You were fooled by Nintendo. In economics, this is the classic information dis-balance. One party has a lot more information than the other party in a transaction. It's either too costly or impossible for the information-deficient party to get that information. So the more powerful party can engage in a predatory relationship. This means they can exploit you for profit and other reasons. Again, Nintendo is usually honest in their business practices. This is a glaring and disappointing exception.

So I'm done with Mario Kart 8. It's not worth $60, and it's certainly not going to be worth another $12 on top of that.

I will say that the opportunity to play as myself was awesome, though.


If you would like to discuss this on Miiverse, the Miiverse post where the pictures from the start of the article came from is here. Posted by Ludwig at his NNID PrinceOfKoopas! Perhaps you should Follow him! If you send him a Wii U friend request, you might even be able to race him. If he ever plays the game again.


For another article on Mario Kart 8 DLC, click here. (It's about the Mercedes-Benz.)
Over a year later, Ludwig returns to Mario Kart 8 for some screenshots for the Cars vs. Planes Splatfest.
It's not just intrusive menus nowadays. It's also intrusive characters.
The economic asymmetry is happening with the Expansion Pass for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, too.

5 comments :

  1. Replies
    1. Yes they are.

      ...also I just updated the article with several more paragraphs. As in, just now. As in, the time between your comment and this comment.

      Delete
  2. wow. i weep for humanity. i have an empty spot on my shoe rack by the front door that haunts me. What do you want from me shoe rack!?! Am I destined to stare at the vacant space forever or must i buy a pair of shoes to fill the void??? why, oh why cruel world??? oh wait, it's a shoe rack and it's doing it's job. that's my problem if my uneven number of shoes create asymmetrical abominations (consequently a great band name). At least a shoe salesmen doesn't come into my home with a handgun and 'make' me buy shoes.. whew! that would be too far.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Relevant:
    http://www.gamefaqs.com/poll/5635-how-do-you-feel-about-publishers-selling-additional-power-ups-gold-lives-items

    ReplyDelete

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