It seems that with modern fighting games, there are two ways to go about adding characters to an existing game's roster--either you can go the route of King of Fighters XIII, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, BlazBlue and Mortal Kombat and have separate characters available for download, or do things like Street Fighter IV (and later BlazBlue and MvC3), and release a separate title update for interested players.
Of course, the third option is to do things like Street Fighter X Tekken, whose controversial timed exclusivity deal has left many gamers feeling betrayed over issues with on-disc DLC.
Seemingly hoping to avoid that exact same controversy, Team Ninja head Yosuke Hayashi explicitly stated that Dead or Alive 5 will not have any characters available as downloadable content.
"We don’t feel that it’s right for fighting games. We feel like this is a kind of sport, and you don’t change the rules for sports. Everybody plays by the same rules. You don’t have a 14-player soccer game versus an 11-player soccer game. That’s just not fair. It’s a similar thing to if certain people have all these characters and others don’t. It makes it an unfair game, and we don’t think that’s the right way to go for fighting games."
I personally think Hayashi's missing the point here--it doesn't matter how many characters there are, it matters how individually powerful each character is compared to the others, and if they have any game-breaking imbalances (like Jann-Lee's kick throw in DoA2, or Helena's amazing amount of staggers and crumples in DoA4, or y'know, the Hold System in general). Granted, it's easier with a smaller cast (like Skullgirls), but this isn't like Sentinel or Phoenix or the seesaw usefulness of X-Factor in MvC3, all of which just required experience and know-how to beat. Using another sports analogy, it's like two guys entering the MMA ring, only one has 4-ounce gloves and another has his hands dipped in glue and glass.
Dead or Alive has never been a particularly competitive game, but it seems like Team Ninja is making the right choices, from nerfing Holds to this admirable focus on making a game with a good existing cast, with no need for add-ons.
What do you think? Between the SFxT on-disc DLC debacle and individual DLC add-on fighters for BlazBlue and KoFXIII not doing well in sales, do you think it's a good idea to go back to the days when "what you bought is what you got" and would have to wait for an actual title update to get more characters?