Whether you're a fan of DLC, or simply remember the day when they were free and called “patches,” they're part of a trend in modern gaming that doesn't appear to be going away any time soon. The second a new game is given a release date, we're told about special editions with unique DLC, day 0 extra content and season passes for all the upcoming add-ons the developer has planned. There's a whole argument for both camps of that issue and nobody is likely to give ground, but one developer that's drawing a line in the sand and pledging never to cross it, is Pokemon maker Game Freak. According to some of its high level developers, Pokemon will never have paid DLC.
Speaking with 4Gamer (via Siliconera) both art director Ken Sugimori and director Tetsuya Watanabe were very clear that they believed no Pokemon should be stuck behind a pay wall: “When it comes to business, the one thing I’ve always said ‘no!’ to is ‘the act of buying Pokémon with money,’” says Sugimori. “That is something that has been said since the days [Satoshi] Tajiri was completely involved in everything.”
Tajiri was the original creator of the Pokemon franchise, his own experiences of bug collecting as a kid inspiring the character of Ash Ketchum. Today he's the executive producer for the franchise, but his philosophies and influences can still be felt in each game's release.
But it's not just a loyalty to an ideal that is keeping Pokemon from using DLC, part of it is about realism within the Pokemon universe. This was part of the problem I had with Warface's unrealistic female soldiers: whatever fantasy world you create, you have to stay within the boundaries of it.
“The reason being, is because it’s one of things that could ‘ruin the worldview’ of Pokémon,” Sugimori continued. “I believe the reason we don’t simply commercialize [Pokémon], is that it’s a way of protecting the brand, and for this purpose, we have the speciality company called The Pokémon Company. Therefore, suppose we sell a Pokémon for 100 yen, then we must prepare something that is worthy of that 100 yen, along with a reasonable consent for doing so.”
To 4Gamer's credit, it did bring up the fact that some Pokemon do require real world actions to collect. For example, legendaries made available as part of movie releases. The developers ultimately felt that this wasn't too world breaking and added to the experience. They also said that the feedback they had gotten from the public for the feature, was good, so they ran with it.
This is perhaps Game Freak's way of saying that if it could find a way to do DLC without making everyone mad in the process it would, but there doesn't seem to be any near future event that would make that happen. But how much would a potentially sold pokemon be? Around 100 yen, or £0.60.
KitGuru Says: I like a developer that doesn't force me to pay extra after the release to get the full experience. Not because I resent having to pay for the content, I'm happy to do that, but reminding me half way through a game that I need to get my credit card out or tap in Paypal details, is just one more immersion breaking moment I'd rather do without.