The Average Gamer

Batman: Arkham City – The Catwoman Debacle

BatmanArkhamCity_LogoI started playing Batman: Arkham City earlier on this week, something I was rather excited about. Ever since I completed the brilliant Batman: Arkham Asylum last year I’ve been dying to play Arkham City. This anticipation was not helped by playing a preview of the game at E3 2011 and interviewing the some of the Rocksteady Studios team. October 2011 couldn’t come quick enough.

Publishers and game developers have come up with various methods of extracting money from pre-owned sales, most recently through the sale of online passes. We had been warned way back in Dec 2005 that pre-owned game sales were damaging the industry. David Cage from Quantic Dream had recently kicked that little hornets nest with claims of losing €10 million worth of Heavy Rain sales due to the pre-owned market. So it was almost certain that Arkham City would feature some sort of revenue generator targeted at the second hand market. Cue Rocksteady Studio’s recent announcement that if you pick up a pre-owned copy of Arkham City you will have to pay to play as Catwoman. As I very rarely buy pre-owned games, I thought this wasn’t going to really affect me. And then I started to play the game.

Annoyance 1:

As soon as you start the main game you see this screen asking you to redeem your code (included with every new game) to unlock all the Catwoman content. F1 2011 was the last game I played that shoved this type of screen in front of you every time you loaded up the game until you entered an online pass code. With Arkham City I wondered what would happen if I didn’t enter/buy a code. Which leads me to annoyance number 2.


No code, no Catwoman

Annoyance 2:

The Riddler has hidden 400 Riddler trophies throughout the massive sprawl of Arkham City for you to find. I’d already collected a few of the green trophies as Batman and then came across this red one. As you can see from the screenshot (see below) the on-screen text gives no indication that this is a Catwoman only trophy. If you press X to pick it up as instructed, not only does Batman get zapped but you get the Riddler verbally mocking you for trying to take it. See, now were are getting into the realms of interfering with my enjoyment of the game simply because I didn’t enter a code at the start. Surely there was a more obvious way of segregating the Catwoman only content? Like hiding them. Yes, I know the trophy was coloured red but what if I was red/green colour blind?


Actually, as Batman you can't

Annoyance 3:

The stats screen has a whole section to point out that you don’t have Catwoman installed. Not a big deal in itself but in the context of the first nag screen and the Catwoman specific trophies everything was a bit too much “in your face” about not unlocking Catwoman.


Look, no Catwoman!

My point is this. If you put in DLC, online passes of whatever into your games to deal with the apparent “evil and industry killing” pre-owned games buyers don’t piss of the player with such a half-arsed way of segregating in-game content. What’s worse is there were also reports of people opening their Arkham City game box to find it was missing their Catwoman code. That’s one sure-fire way of killing off people’s excitement for your game right from the start.

Annoyances aside, the game is absolutely amazing so far and I’m loving it to bits which makes the whole Catwoman/pre-owned saga so disappointing.

Batman: Arkham City is out now on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and on PC from 18th Nov 2011.