Bad Business: Clan of Champions (Review)
So, Japanese developer Acquire built this generic arena brawler with a medieval fantasy setting for PS3. It’s actually part of a series, the “Gladiator” series in Japan.
NIS America brings the game to English-speaking territories, including a PC port sold exclusively on Steam. That’s where I come in.
Now, my Steam library is packed full of games. More games than I will ever get around to playing (currently I’m at 400). Many games don’t have a Metacritic score for the Steam overlay to pull into my library list. But for those games that do have Metacritic scores, I noticed that “Clan of Champions” had the lowest score of all my games: a 43. Yikes.
I went into this game curious as to what could possibly have made the game so terrible.
Guess what? It’s really not all that bad. It’s just … lacking. It’d be a fine $5 game for single-player and coop and competitive online multiplayer.
Here’s my theory as to why the game scored so atrociously low: its retail listing price on Steam is $39.99.
You guys know that I generally love NIS America. They bring niche 3rd-party Japanese RPGs and anime-style games to America. Among console publishers they’re one of my favorites. But it’s clear to me, based on this price point, that these guys have absolutely no idea how the PC gaming market works.
So I’m going to spell it out for them, and for you as well.
RULES FOR PC GAME PRICING:
1) Unless you’re an established studio pumping out highly-touted “AAA” games that sell a million copies (Assassin’s Creed, Elder Scrolls, etc), you have no business selling your digital-only games at a price point anywhere near $50.
2) Your game should sell for less on Steam than for a console download, by virtue of the fact that Steam games are cheap. And you may or may not actually own them.
3) If no one’s heard of your game and has no reason to get excited about it, subtract another $15 from your desired market price point.
4) If the single-player campaign can be cleared quickly and doesn’t leave a lasting impression on the player, dock another $5-$15.
The outcry of angry fans complaining about this game, quite openly, on Steam’s discussion page, seems to stem from the fact that they feel ripped off. Paying $40 for a game whose predecessors made it to the GameStop bargain bin months after release (see “Colosseum: Road to Freedom” on PS2) is a crime. It is terrible.
If this game, however, were priced at $10 retail and then most people picked it up during a 50% off sale? It’d have a happy community of gamers, probably far more than those who currently own it, talking about how it’s a fun, fancy-free romp through some ancinet fictional city with rock-paper-scissors combat (head body legs) and a decent loot / upgrade/ skills system.
Putting price aside, this game isn’t all that bad. The multiplayer is probably the game’s strongest suit (if you can find someone to play with you). The co-op modes can be a lot of fun, and versus matches are cool too. However, there are a lot of clunky menus to navigate through before starting the match, as well as short, unskippable cut scenes at the start of every round.
Wait til this one goes on clearance. But after that, I’d love an excuse to play it with some friends. And NISA, seriously, don’t put another game on Steam for $40 or more unless it’s the biggest game you’ve ever published EVER and it already has significant worldwide buzz.
Played: 5 hours
Price: $39.99 (Steam)