This should be a small dissection of one of 2011's video game underdog stories, a licensed movie tie-in released a bit late and shoved onto a download service. Real Steel is a boxing title, quite a bit of fun actually, where players create their own robot, assign moves, and take on the rankings chart.
Instead, it has to be a rant, because publisher/developer Yukes have devastated their own work with a scammy downloadable content scheme that is anything other than honest.
On Xbox Live, every game comes with a demo. For Real Steel, it's a one-off exhibition brawl that doesn't explore any of the customization; it merely hints at the possibility. On the Marketplace itself, no downloadable content for the game is listed, a search for Real Steel bringing up some Gamerpics and the game.
Once into this metallic brawler, things change. You can't customize the color of your robot. That design suite is $4. Want a pre-built robot? Those are $10 each. Want individual parts? That will be $1 each.
Of course, you don't need colors for your robot, but you do need parts. Yukes has clearly and intentionally created a difficulty curve intended to sap a few extra dollars from the digital consumer. After two hours of gameplay, my clunker of slapped together steel still couldn't match up to the next highest ranked contender (based on in-game ratings, I was 200 "battle points" shy), and that's with parts that could be purchased without real money.
The free-to-play model isn't uncommon in the gaming industry. Many massively multiplayer online titles use it, blocking later levels or certain items behind a paywall. The difference with Real Steel? There's a $10 entry fee for the game itself, or is that $14 with the color changer? It's hard to tell.