When I was writing up Microsoft’s press event yesterday, I mentioned that I was genuinely excited that Killer Instinct was coming back. I was far from alone in that; it has a small but rabid fan community. Microsoft, seeing this, and following what appears to be a new policy of bludgeoning any goodwill from the gamer community to death with a lead pipe, has casually announced it’ll be a free-to-play game. And unless you pay for other fighters, you’ll only be Jago.
Normally I’d assume that this just somebody trolling us all for those delicious, delicious fanboy tears, but this comes from IGN:
Killer Instinct is a day-one digital-only release on Xbox One, and features — get this — one character. Jago is free to play on launch day. Everyone else — unspecified returning characters as well as original fighters — will cost money. Price is to-be-determined (of course).
What makes this particularly surprising is that it’s fairly clear the fighting community hates policies such as this. And free-to-play games themselves are fairly controversial in the gaming community, so Microsoft had to know combining an unpopular pricing model with an obscure but fairly beloved franchise was playing with fire.
It’s unfortunate Microsoft has chosen to nickel-and-dime fans mostly because they can. Fighting games are ultimately games you play with friends; the entire point of having a large roster is so that every player can find a character that suits their style. And part of the fun is that you can try them out with your friends, usually screwing up hilariously.
Hopefully this is not a sign of the model the Xbox One will be following for its digital-only games. The free-to-play model is not necessarily bad, but it has to be used with an eye for what makes a game fun, and it has to be a matter of not turning into a case of paying to win.
UPDATE: Commenter Roddy Piper has pointed us towards a confirmation that this is true and a more detailed explanation of what Microsoft is thinking, courtesy of Eurogamer.