A Role-Playing Game That Makes You Pay For Your Party Members

During my playthrough of role-playing game Hyperdimension Neptunia I am delighted to welcome a new character into my party, but the NIS America-inspired Nisa won't fight with me or gain experience. She just sits there, until I pay.

Nisa is one of two game developer-inspired characters (along with Gust) that join your party on a pay-to-play basis in Hyperdimension Neptunia, a role-playing collaboration by some of Japan's top RPG makers for the PlayStation 3. After running into the characters on several occasions, both eventually decide to join up, accompanied by one of every RPG fans' favourite phrases, "XXX has joined your party."

But they aren't actually joining. Sure, they're both listed in your party roster, but you can't do anything with them until you go to the PlayStation store and buy their activation packs for $US1.99 apiece. Until then they sit in your start menu, not doing a damn thing.

Once you pay the fee for Nisa or Gust a file is downloaded to your console, likely containing the skill and equipment information needed to integrate them into your party. Restart the game and you can add them to your line-up, outfit them in the latest equipment, and start lugging them around while they level up (they both start as level one characters.)

I understand that NIS is somewhat downloadable content crazy. Each new release is followed by piles of character enhancement packs, costumes, new missions, and other such game-enhancing fluff. They even release new missions free-of-charge as a service to their devoted customers. This is just taking things a bit too far.

Gust and Nisa are not hidden characters. They show up on the back of the game's box. There are wallpapers of them at the official website. I was under the impression that both were playable characters in the game. Not a pair of placeholders filling spots inn your group roster until you drop $US1.99 to set them free.

Sure, Hyperdimension Neptunia is just an obscure role-playing game for the PS3 aimed at a very narrow audience, but it sets a dangerous precedent. Square Enix already loves to nickel-and-dime players with downloadable content (its WiiWare titles are some of the only Wii games with DLC). How long before we have to pay to unlock new characters in Final Fantasy?

I've reached out to NIS America for comment on this story, and will update should they respond.


Comments

    Been playing it and enjoying it. The dialogue and a fondness for the characters drive the game more than the rather bland gameplay. I'm just a sucker for these games, no matter the faults.

    Wait so let me get this straight. You buy this game...which should come with everything unlocked and yet two party members are unsuable until you pay money for activation of two bits of content that should be already unlocked....

    The only way that we (as gamers) can try to stop the "nickle and diming" of players with poor dlc (some are welcome and reasonably priced, but rare) is to stop buying it. I remember seeing dlc available for a Ninja Gaiden game in the marketplace before the game was released at one time. Not to mention the DLC that unlocks something already on the disc. I felt that DLC was meant to bring extended life to a game once it has been played through, not to milk consumers that want to play the games how they should be in the first place. This is why a lot of my game purchases are when they are discounted or are an edition with the extra content included.

    If idiots keep buying crappy DLC, there's no incentive for the likes of SE to stop, especially when it's so profitable.

    Some do it better than others. I thought the Dragon Age one was particularly tasteless in that if you didn't buy it with the launch DLC, or for whatever reason, wasn't playing it online, there would be a zone, NPC you can talk to etc to start a quest which... you couldn't complete unless you had it.

    Adding characters to your party then barring them until you pay is even more shameless.

    that should be illegal. dlc is meant to enhance the original game NOT enable locked away content on the disc.

    when you plan the dlc for your games like that - it just upsets your customers and why do developers insist on doing that?

    Meh. Means I can focus on grinding my main, and not have to spread the good loot with my party.

    That's appalling, they should be ashamed for that. Japanese companies have really taken to bending people over with their DLC. I think it all started with The [email protected]'s $500 worth of DLC...

    Not that western companies are immune to it, Ubisoft are probably the worst, with their on-disc DLC in HAWX etc...

    Let me ask something here. Are Nisa and Gust intergral to the plot the way that say Etna or Flonne are in Disgaea 1? If so, then yes this is complete BS and should be protested. If not then this is just more whining IMO. If you don't want to pay for them then don't. You can kick them out of the party can't you? Or just choose to ignore them? The only difference between this and other cases is that they are already in the game. I just think that this is people making a mountain out of a molehill. Or for you who don't understand that, they are making drama out of nothing.

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