Netherrealm’s DLC for Easy Fatalities has caused quite a bit of uproar in the mainstream video games news circle. A quick Google search shows dozens of sites reporting and commenting on this, each of these publications have hundreds of comments from users. Most of these articles and comments showcase an issue with the fact that the DLC even exists but one specific article, written by Ozzie Mejia, had such a disgusting display of both ableism and elitism that I’ve decided to jump into this discussion. There are definitely issues with this DLC but its mere existence is not one of them.
More than once Mejia equates using the Easy Fatalities to laziness and borders on calling it outright cheating. This idea that anybody who decides to play Mortal Kombat X needs to invest time practicing a single skill disrespects people’s time. For the first time in gaming’s history, a large group of people playing games are adults. Adults with jobs, families, and other hobbies or passions. We don’t have several hours every day to master every aspect of a game anymore. Even people who might spend a large amount of time playing games have hundreds of games asking for their attention with an endless amount of games on the horizon. Basically, even people who are able to practice and master these techniques may not have the time to do so.
This all completely overlooks the fact that fighting games are fantastic party games. The controls are basic enough that anybody could pick up a controller and button mash. Despite the fighting genre having some ridiculous skill ceilings, I can’t fault them for their low skill floors. Aside from mini-game compilations they are usually the go to genre for appealing to a group of people with varying skill levels. Netherrealm understands all of this completely and created a feature that allows any player to experience, what is arguably, Mortal Kombat’s core feature.
Let us not forget that not everyone who plays video games has the ability to enter in such complex commands. While this can be caused by something such as a muscle development issue it can also stem from something mundane like arthritis. It is inexcusable to believe that games should only be designed with able-bodied players in mind. I’m not saying that we can’t or shouldn’t have complex, difficult games, but I am saying everyone should be able to view what is essentially a glorified cutscene.
The real issue with this DLC is the gross monetization of what amounts to an accessibility option. I don’t see Easy Fatalities as being any different from a colorblind mode or subtitles. This should be a toggle found in the player options menu on the character select screen. As if hiding it behind a paywall wasn’t bad enough Netherrealm decided to make it a consumable instead of an unlock. There isn’t any price that would make this alright but the choice of 30 fatalities for $5 is outrageous. 30 fatalities won’t last long at all, especially if Mortal Kombat is the game of choice during a game night. Netherrealm needs to own up to this mistake. Monetizing people who cannot perform fatalities is 100% gross, especially when you factor in that some of these people have disorders that prevent them from doing so.
One of gaming’s greatest hurdles is finding a way to reduce the difficulty required to simply play games. This is one of the reasons the Wii attracted so many new players, it was simple and intuitive to control. While the execution was horrible, I commend Netherrealm for at least programming easier fatalities. I doubt the decision will be reversed but I hope they fix it for their next game. We need to demand better accessibility options in our games. Unfortunately, sometimes we need to demand accessibility options altogether. These aren’t ways to dumb down games or to make others feel like their time practicing was wasted. These are created to allow more people the ability to enjoy our wonderful hobby. So please, stop attributing accessibility with laziness or being a “bad gamer,” whatever that means.