NEW YORK — Reviewers have raved about Batman: Arkham City, the action-packed superhero game that publisher Warner Bros. released on Tuesday for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
One aspect of the Dark Knight’s latest adventure that has found itself the subject of controversy is the way it handles the Catwoman segments of the game. These are unlocked with a “VIP Pass,” a redemption code printed on a sheet of paper inside new copies of the game. Gamers who rent, borrow or buy a used copy of Arkham City will have to pay an extra $10 for the code. And those who can’t connect their consoles to the Internet will be unable to experience the story of Batman’s feline rival.
Wired.com spoke with Arkham City director Sefton Hill at the New York Comic Con in Manhattan last weekend, where he defended this decision, calling Catwoman a “guest star” and emphasizing that her segments make up less than 10% of the game’s total content.
“I certainly understand and appreciate the concerns of the DLC issue, but that was the decision that was made,” Hill said, noting that developer Rocksteady Studios had specifically created the Catwoman content with an eye towards distributing it in this manner.
“Everybody who buys the game new and has access to the Internet is going to be able to get that full experience,” Hill said.
Locking renters, borrowers and used-game purchasers out of major chunks of game content, then charging them extra for the privilege, has recently become a popular move for game publishers looking to earn extra money. Last year, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello went so far as to name his company’s version of the initiative “Project Ten Dollar.”
‘I guess it is pretty overwhelming, becoming the Batman.’
At Comic-Con, we also asked Hill about feature creep, which early reviewers including Game|Life editor Chris Kohler criticized in their takes on Arkham City last week. Kohler noted that Batman’s extensive arsenal can be overwhelming, particularly in the midst of a fast-paced brawl or boss fight.
Hill said it’s all in the name of making you feel like Bruce Wayne himself.
“I guess it is pretty overwhelming, becoming the Batman,” Hill said. “That’s part of being who he is. We didn’t want to duck away from any of those things that it meant to be Batman.”
Arkham City is all about building upon its predecessor, Arkham Asylum, Hill says. For the team at Rocksteady Studios, that meant giving the Caped Crusader all the gadgets he had in the previous game, and more.
“We wanted to take those things that people enjoyed and really add to them,” he said. “When you’re becoming the Batman, he is such an omni-faceted character that we really wanted to represent all those different sides of him.”