Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 21, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 21, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


BioWare: Some players  want  day-one DLC
BioWare: Some players want day-one DLC
August 17, 2012 | By Mike Rose

August 17, 2012 | By Mike Rose
Comments
    88 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing, GDC Europe



Fernando Melo, director of online development at BioWare Montreal defended day one DLC for BioWare titles as part of his GDC Europe talk this week, explaining that "players want more content, and they want it now -- the problem is that there is no single 'now', so it should be there when they're ready for it."

Given that some players can take months to complete a game, while others can blast through games in a matter of days, this means that providing extra content from the get-go is the only real way to fulfill all players' expectations.

Melo argued that on the occasions when BioWare hasn't provided DLC from day one, those players who complete the game quickly then complained that there was nothing more to play and asked for extra content. If DLC isn't provided for these players, they may well move on to a different game and never come back to play DLC later on.

As proof that day one DLC also works in terms of sales, Melo said that 53 percent of all sales for the first Dragon Age: Origins DLC pack -- which was released on the same day as the full game -- were made on release day.

Melo also urged developers to remember that post-release downloadable content is now a necessity for video games, and can lead to some great benefits for your development team.

The BioWare executive noted in particular that, "using post-ship content is a great way to train your next set of leaders with very little risk, and the fans will also appreciate it."

He said that as your main game is ready to ship, your team will most likely be working together at the peak of its abilities, and so it makes a lot of sense to use that period to create even more content for the title, rather than taking a break and losing that edge.

There are plenty of benefits to DLC in terms of sales too, of course. "Everything you do post-ship is totally independent on the success of your game," noted Melo, "and DLC tends to sustain sales over time even better than your main game."

DLC holds its initial price better than your main game too, he continued, and releasing extra DLC packs can give sales spikes to both your original game release and spikes for all previous DLC packs too.

Gamasutra is in Cologne, Germany this week covering GDC Europe and Gamescom. For more coverage, visit our official event page. (UBM TechWeb is parent to both Gamasutra and GDC events.)


Related Jobs

Trion Redwood City
Trion Redwood City — Redwood City, California, United States
[10.21.14]

Senior Network Game Engineer
Cloud Imperium Games
Cloud Imperium Games — Austin, Texas, United States
[10.21.14]

Server/Backend Programmer
Cloud Imperium Games
Cloud Imperium Games — Austin, Texas, United States
[10.21.14]

Concept Artist
Bandai Namco Studios Vancouver Inc.
Bandai Namco Studios Vancouver Inc. — Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
[10.21.14]

Senior Software Engineer










Comments


Luke Quinn
profile image
No thanks.
I want DLC to be released reasonably soon after launch, but releasing DLC on day 1 makes it fairly obvious that content was held back deliberately.
When I booted my copy of Mass Effect 2 on release day (special edition pre-order bla bla bla) to find that there was already DLC on offer, I was pissed.
Granted, I understand that they are trying to circumvent EB's (GameStop) corrosive second-hand market, but the bad first impression it gave me has stuck and I went from being a massive fan of the series (games and books) to actively avoiding the final chapter. (plus the game kinda sucked in comparison to the first)

Tom Baird
profile image
Due to the structure of a game's development cycle, content is not necessarily held back when it's Day 1 DLC.

Release Candidate testing is not a 1 day affair, and a game can be content complete months before it hits the shelves. These months between content complete and launch day are ideally when Day 1 DLC is made, and as such it can't be put into the original product or else content completion would be pushed back, which pushes back the launch day, which then still gives you a few months to add additional content that would have been unable to have been placed into the original game.

The complaints about Day 1 DLC are commonly due to a misunderstanding of how games get made, and hopefully we can start to better educate our customers to the process so they quit complaining about the logical outcome of said process, because the alternatives to Day 1 DLC is not more main game content, but simply less content overall.

Vin St John
profile image
All content a developer releases after their game launches is "held back deliberately." Sequels, future games, future DLC - if they included it all on launch day, their game would never release, and they'd be out of a job when it finally did. Blaming a developer for "holding back" content before you've played the game is a little ridiculous. AFTER you've played the game, if you felt it was somehow an incomplete experience (for instance, lots of rising action and no denouement, or maybe the back of the box promised 10 levels but you only saw 9), then sure! The consumer would have every reason and right to complain that the developer baited-and-switched them into buying a "full" game and then paying extra for DLC. But 99% of DLC-enabled games have the opposite problem, where the DLC is completely tacked on and ancillary to the core experience, and thus it's actually not that valuable to gamers. I don't see why anyone would want to complain when a developer starts to find ways to make DLC more interesting and come out sooner/more frequently.

Danny Bernal
profile image
It's all about the perception... it also doesn't help when DLC is simply a 1KB file that unlocks stuff on the disk.

A S
profile image
It comes across as cynical. Telling consumers they need to get more educated about how games are made is also not a direction I'd recommend unless you are intentionally trying to engender bad feeling.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
profile image
"Telling consumers they need to get more educated about how games are made is also not a direction I'd recommend unless you are intentionally trying to engender bad feeling."

I disagree. There is an ignorance about the logistics of game development, and sometimes that ignorance leads to irrational disdain. Since there are things one can rationally disdain (invasive DRM for example), it makes sense to work together to try to bring everyone's knowledge of the discourse up to par so efforts can be efficiently directed. Telling consumers they should be more educated (though what Tom said was "hopefully we can start to better educate our customers", putting the burden on us, which is about as polite as it can be said) about a topic they demonstrably do not understand should not offend anyone or engender bad feelings. It wouldn't surprise me if most people think developers are modifying on-disc data up to the day it hits store shelves, not because of stupidity but because they just haven't thought about how logistically impossible that is. Educating people to understand that the dev team is sitting on its hands for a period of time before the game ships and just as well be putting effort into giving them more content should fruitfully bring everyone to the same understanding of the process -- at which point arguments might still be made against day 1 DLC but would hopefully be more accurate.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Arjen Meijer
profile image
I'd rather have mod support instead but that's just me.

Anna Tito
profile image
Thirded!

I have modded in NWN, NWN2, DA:O, I can mod DA2 & ME3 but having a toolset would make a world of difference!

Andy Cahalan
profile image
It's now commonplace to spend more money on the special edition so you don't feel like you've bought an incomplete game. I know I've done it, and I'll do it again.

When I buy a game I like to think I'm getting a complete experience. I wouldn't even look at Mass Effect 3 after the day one debacle. The casual consumer (and your core fanbase) sees the greed.

53% of sales on launch day alone? Those are the people that keep your lights on and you just punished all of them. Sure, they're happy to have the complete experience, but not one sane person among them felt like it was a good deal.

Michael Rooney
profile image
How did they punish them?

If the content is ready for DLC by day 1, and a majority of players are willing to by it day 1, why not release it day 1? Would the game be worth more if they just let the DLC sit for a month and then released it?

For bioware games a lot of people finish them the first week they are released and never touch them again. It seems like if day 1 dlc were allowed for any game it would be for one the average gamer will only play within 1-2 weeks of launch.

Mitchell Fujino
profile image
Note that content is _not_ "held back deliberately".

DLC gets its own project management, its own team structure, and its own budget. It's pretty much separate from the main game.

This whole "everyone works on it after the main game" spin is BS. It's planned from the start as a separate project. WHICH MEANS, if you say "no day 1 DLC" what you get is less game overall as that budget is cut, not more main game.

And no, that cut budget wouldn't magically get added to the main game. That's locked in already.

Matt Robb
profile image
That's a business structure concern. It means nothing to the customer. If a game is released light on content at full price with day one DLC, it's going to cause a backlash, because the content *was* done before the release and it *wasn't* included with the game.

Don Moar
profile image
I think it's obvious that Day 1 DLC has to be finished before the full game is released, but that is not the same thing as before the full game is finished.

[edit - corrected some tense issues]

Matt Robb
profile image
Again, it's about customer perception, not about how scheduling worked out. If I go to a store, pay $60 for a game, go home, play, finish in a day or two, and find out there's DLC already for $20, it instantly feels like the price for the full game is actually $80 and I've been screwed.

Now, if the full price was $40 and there's a big sticker on the box saying "Chapter 2" or whatever is DLC for $20, at least you told me up front and the total is back to $60.

ian stansbury
profile image
There is also context which must be considered for any argument. If the content is light in the main game and the there is day one DLC, I feel screwed. If I see there is DLC on day one and then get plenty of game play out of the core game then I'm ok with it. For instance if Skyrim had DLC on day one then I'm ok or even stoked that there is more game since the core got me 80+ hours of play.

Don Moar
profile image
Matt, I agree that public perception is important. If someone thinks he or she is getting screwed then whether they are or not is mostly irrelevant and companies have to be prepared to address those concerns before they embark on a Day 1 DLC plan.

I was merely correcting your assertion that "the content *was* done before the release and it *wasn't* included with the game." The fact is, with all the games I worked on the content was *not* done before the game was finished and so could *not* have been included with the full game without causing a delay in the release date or increasing the workload on the team (both of which have serious consequences in terms of cost).

Matt Robb
profile image
I understand that some things are completed after the game discs go to the factory for replication. Not the point. You could have everything *but* the content on the discs for all I care. Just don't overcharge me. If you want to push content development out a little longer, make the download free.

Better yet, make the engine and demo free, and I can buy all the content as DLC.

Again, just don't overcharge me.

Don Moar
profile image
Matt, the fact that the Day 1 DLC is not complete before the full game is finished is entirely the point when you stated the opposite in your first comment to this thread.

I agree that no one likes being overcharged but is that actually happening? Since the Day 1 DLC is *not* finished before the full game is finished the full game is just that - the full game - for which you are paying your $60. Then, any DLC whether it is Day 1, Week 1, Month 1, or later is, by definition, optional. As such, the developers have the right to charge what they wish, and the customers have the right to purchase it or not.

Matt Robb
profile image
It all depends on the customer's perception of what consitutes a "full game".

Imagine if Nintendo released a new side-scroller Mario game with exactly half the levels of the previous game, then put a level pack up for download for $20-40. Anyone would be able to tell they were being shafted.

Now if they had instead released a game with the same number of levels as the last, then had DLC with even more levels, people would more likely feel the DLC was extra. They'd be fine or even happy.

*When* the DLC is released only truly matters when the base product is perceived as being light on content for whatever reason. If the base product is light on content, no one cares about how games are made or scheduled, or whether the DLC was done after the base game was "done".

(I used Nintendo and Mario here because Nintendo doesn't actually release content in this fashion and because a Mario game is easily quantified.)

Vin St John
profile image
@Matt - I agree with what you just said, but I don't think that this situation is common, and this is certainly not the argument levied against Bioware's games.

Matt Robb
profile image
Entirely possible Vin, but the article reads as the Bioware fellow speaking on behalf of the industry in general.

I haven't personally purchased a Bioware game since KOTOR.

Marc Schaerer
profile image
That might be true for some games, but for other games it in the past was rather obvious that the budget was cut from the main game, partially degenerating them to a DLC shell.

There is DLC thats acceptable, there is even DLC thats acceptable on day one, but it does not hold for all content and games and there is a growing amount of games where it does just not work out. Selling story dlc on day 1 when the main game lasted 5h for example is absolutely inacceptable

Don Moar
profile image
Matt, I think we've arrived at the same conclusion as you and Tom:

The issue is not whether Day 1 DLC is done before the game is finished and removed to be sold later which, in my experience, this has never been the case. Rather, the issue is are customers getting full value for their $60, and that is independent of whether DLC is available on Day 1.

A S
profile image
It's always really galling to watch people inside the business tell consumers giving them honest feedback that their feelings are wrong and they need to change their minds.

Don Moar
profile image
@ A S:

Are you directing that comment to me?

Michael Rooney
profile image
@"It's always really galling to watch people inside the business tell consumers giving them honest feedback that their feelings are wrong and they need to change their minds."

I don't think that's what's happening. What's misunderstood is that consumers have the mistaken idea that there is a choice between a game with day 1 dlc or a better game. The real choice is a game with day 1 dlc or the exact same game with no day 1 dlc.

I'm sure your feelings are as stated, but the problem is that it's based off the assumption that something is being sacrificed to release more content on day 1, when the product you get will most likely be identical regardless of the existence of day 1 dlc.

A S
profile image
@Don: Yes, and various others. What I'm saying is that assuming that a lack of knowledge on consumers part is the cause of a negative reaction is a position of contempt ("You'd think differently if you knew more"). Particularly for this audience you have consumers who probably have a pretty good idea how games are made and are trying very hard to communicate with you that they find this unpalatable.

Don Moar
profile image
@ A S

I didn't say anything of the sort. I corrected Matt's statement that Day 1 DLC is done before the game is finished and then, based on Matt's own statements in this and another thread on this article, agree with what he said was his real issue: making sure he gets value for the money he spends on the full game.

I do not have an issue with people who don't like Day 1 DLC. My concern is when people say they don't like it for reasons which in my personal experience are not true.

Ujn Hunter
profile image
Just give me complete games for my $60. Otherwise I'll wait until your game is <$20 and I won't bother with your DLC.

Christian Schmidt
profile image
The old paradigm of make game -> ship it -> forget about it is long gone. Asking for a 'complete game' doesn't really makes any sense unless we're talking about a cartridge for example. And even then, I really don't want to go back to the days of a 'complete game'...complete with bugs that can't be patched.

It also makes sense if you subscribe to the mass conspiracy theory that developers 'rip out' content from an original plan in order to sell it as day one DLC. The 'incomplete game' is what launches, and the 'complete game' is the mystical shipped game plus any DLC that was released day one.

This is a farce, and as numerous developers on numerous projects have said to deaf ears, it simply isn't true. Parroting a blogger with an audience doesn't make it true either.

What IS true however is that day one DLC is a godsend for developers. Bridging that gap between certification of the main game and launch keeps us employed and at the very least slows the layoff train. If you detest it, wait and buy the 'Game of the Year' edition, but don't invent some grand theory about 'how to make more money and ruin the game' decisions.

Matt Robb
profile image
"The old paradigm of make game -> ship it -> forget about it is long gone."

@Christian

I don't think that's the issue in question. *Free* Day 1 DLC would be fine. If a game I buy today contains less entertainment value than one I bought 2, 5, 10, whatever years ago, costs the same, and has Day 1 DLC that costs even more, my personal perception is going to be that I'm being screwed.

Look at a World of Warcraft expansion. I don't get all the content I'm going to get the day I purchase it, but the rest of the content for that expansion that comes out over the next year or two doesn't cost me more.

Tom Baird
profile image
@Matt
It would be nice if the Day 1 DLC was free, but things become complicated with consoles. Xbox Certification for example requires a heavy cost for each update, and therefore would force them to absorb the certification cost for the DLC from the sales of a different SKU.

Valve's L4D2 is a good example of this issue. On PC, the updates are free, but are $10 on XBox, and this is explained as having to cover the cost of certification.

It also sets up the idea that additional content that is not attached to the original design should be free. If Expansion packs released on Day 1 are free, why are they charging for Expansions on Day 30? That makes the solution to this simply postponing the DLC you worked on during final testing and distribution to a later date that your customers consider acceptable. Do you really feel better served by simply having to wait longer for content? Why not simply better educate your customer base, so that they understand how and when this content is created, and why it's a separate product with a separate cost instead of lowering the availability of said content.

Matt Robb
profile image
"That makes the solution to this simply postponing the DLC you worked on during final testing and distribution to a later date that your customers consider acceptable."

The *proper* solution is to include enough in your primary package so the customer is satisfied regardless of your DLC.

$10 to cover Xbox Certification seems steep given that there are games that cost less than that on the arcade, but I'll admit ignorance of Microsoft's hoops for adding things on Xbox Live.

Tom Baird
profile image
@Matt

Reading through your posts, It feels like your issue is with games that are shipped light on content, and not Day 1 DLC specifically. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm making the assumption that the original game was a fully featured game, since a $60 game with only $40 worth of content in the customer's eyes is an issue with or without DLC. Many people seem to consider a game incomplete simply because there is more content available, rather than asking themselves "Was this product worth the cost?", which strikes me as an ignorant attitude.

I'm arguing against the knee jerk reaction that Day 1 DLC is inherently bad, though reading the original reply in the list, it appears I'm the one who got off track. I feel that games that ship light on content should be critiqued as such(and agree that this is a bad thing), rather than attacking a secondary complaint of charging for additional content.

Also, I think $10 isn't so bad once you realize A) It's a tiered system, and so $5 may be your next highest price point, and B) Your audience is a sub set of the original purchases, but the Certification costs are fixed, meaning there are less users to cover the cost relative to the original game.

Matt Robb
profile image
I think we're in agreement Tom.

If you release a great game, I pay $60 for it, and truly enjoy it and feel it was worth the purchase, then discover there's non-free DLC available already, I'm going to be *more* happy.

If you release a great game, I pay $60 for it, and I feel like it was too short due to lacking content, then discover there's non-free DLC available already, I'm going to be pissed.

Anna Tito
profile image
$60.... I guess you live in the US or surrounds ... we pay $80-$120+ AUS on release date for games and our dollar is one for one or better at the moment, to buy ME3 new for console you can still pay up to $68 even now. Honestly the day one DLC doesn't bother me nearly as much as the whining about paying $60 then having to but the DLC does.

I am happy that I have the money to buy the game and the tech to play it on... there are much bigger issues in life than day one DLC....

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

T Rawlings
profile image
I learned my lesson with the DLC for Dragon Age Origins and Mass Effect 2. Nothing I bought points for was worth the cost of entry, NOTHING.

I will admit I get pissed when there's day 1 DLC, especially when it's not free on the PC and the logic behind this was to kill the secondhand console gaming market. I also admit I hold a grudge against Bioware because the first DLC for Mass Effect was free, and then suddenly everything started costing more, including their games.

This article infuriates me and shows me Bioware is going after the easy money instead of delivering quality games. Dragon Age 2 is a shining example of a game that was made inferior just so it would sell better on consoles. The shining example of SW: TOR going f2p in less than a year shows me that Bioware has clearly learned bad habits from its parent company and is a shadow of what it once was.

I will not shed a tear when Bioware gets sold after EA gets bought by a private investment firm. Their history through gaming's golden years will make me sad, but I will not shed a tear. This article proves that Bioware doesn't "get it" and only sees dollar signs.

Final point: Mass Effect 2 clearly had content cut from it and added in as DLC, so to the developer above who was stating that a full game is a full game, yes and this is not the case for Mass Effect 2. I voted with my wallet and have no desire to play Mass Effect 3, as 2 was clearly dumbed down in favor of the console crowd, yet again.

Don't try and tell me, as a gamer, what I like. It's bad enough you crooks charge $60 for a new game when it's only worth $30-$40.

Jacob Germany
profile image
I find it's not even vanity options. Maybe I play different games, but I find it's usually $10 for a single mission/mission-line. Usually advertised as an extra 2-4 hours of play time. I never buy that crap because, to me, I base it all off of how much it seems I'd get in proportion to the original game.

In other words, if I'm getting a Shivering Isles style expansion for $20, that seems fair-ish. But if the deal is $10 for a mission, it'd better be an engrossing, high-quality, deep, and engaging mission to warrant 1/6th the original price. If it's going to be something you can find as a normal side-quest in the main game? I'll pass.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Michael Rooney
profile image
@Dave: A lot of bioware's DLC is pretty solid. The Lair of the Shadowbroker is one of the single best pieces of downloadable content ever released.

Jack Matthewson
profile image
I see more value in putting off purchasing a game for 6 months and waiting for the masses of DLC to be released, then just buying the complete experience for a fraction of the cost. Even less if it's on a Steam sale. There's so many great games out there to spend my time on, I can wait for a developer to get it all out of their system first. If I'm really into a game, I'll buy it day one, but that boils down to literally once or twice a year. Recently it's been Deus Ex and Space Marine. Both excellent games, both with extra DLC released well after the main title, all of which I happily bought and paid for. There is a right way to do it.

John McMahon
profile image
I see more value in waiting for the Ultimate Edition or Game of the Year Edition. Where it includes all the DLC. Games like Fallout: New Vegas and L.A. Noire...that was the only way I touched those games. Plus when that happens all the bug fixes are included.

AND I didn't pay $60 for either game. :D

Stuart Brown
profile image
@ John Mahon
"Games like Fallout: New Vegas and L.A. Noire...that was the only way I touched those games. Plus when that happens all the bug fixes are included."

Unless you are looking at any of the Fallout games on PS3, it should be mentioned, since even the game of the year editions were fundamentally broken.

Jonathan Murphy
profile image
Some people don't mind spending large sums of money. But most people want value for their dollar. Please ignore my advice. I'm not a rich and famous person.

Max Loy
profile image
I actually prefer DLC to come out a good period after launch. If it comes out at launch, I subconsciously bundle it with the core experience - barely registering above the background noise of the game itself. A DLC that comes out later, on the other hand, can cause me to pick up a game I have enjoyed but haven't played in a while. I find this to be a much more value-added experience, as it adds much longevity to a game that I would otherwise play through only once, or maybe not even finish. Of course, it means that a DLC has to stand on its own more than a day one DLC, but I consider that to be a pro rather than a con.

Harlan Sumgui
profile image
and some people like to be whipped and have electrodes clamped onto their nipples. So what's bioware's point agina?

Kevin Matthews
profile image
This reads like propaganda. The only thing I'm confused about is the absence of a cartoon.

Justin Sawchuk
profile image
They just want to get the customer used to buying DLC. Newgamers will grow up with as the norm, how sad.

Matthew Mouras
profile image
Do people really want day one DLC, or do they just want the maximum amount of content possible at any given time (at any given price)?

Matt Cratty
profile image
Some people like great stories with prototype-level gameplay.

Don Moar
profile image
How long should companies wait before making the first DLC package available to avoid the backlash of being perceived as having released an incomplete game?

Michael Stevens
profile image
1) DLC is only an issue when the main content is insufficient on it's own, as was the case with some recent Capcom games. If the game on disc is a complete thought, then it only makes sense to offer the bonus content as soon as possible and capitalize on people's enthusiasm while it lasts.

2) It may not be the case, but I wouldn't be surprised if the 53% sales for DA:O includes redemption of DLC bundled with the game. If it does, then it isn't a useful [indicator] of people's DLC buying habits. Also, using DA:O and not a more recent game (ME2,DA2) tells me that day-one DLC sales are Probably not trending upwards

Cordero W
profile image
So essentially he's saying: 'We've brainwashed our customers into thinking day 1 and day 0 DLC is great." Usual PR. Nothing to see here.

John Flush
profile image
"As proof that day one DLC also works in terms of sales, Melo said that 53 percent of all sales for the first Dragon Age: Origins DLC pack -- which was released on the same day as the full game -- were made on release day."

Actually it was probably a bunch of people that bought the game and wanted the 'full experience' and bought it at the same time - hoping the one playthrough they have time for would merit the maximum enjoyment for their time frame.

I also find it interesting that I'm sure the found the best number for this PR spin and had to go back all the way to Dragon Age 1 to find it...

I find it interesting that the first comment in this list was my exact feelings. Because of ME2's gameplay, DLC, collectors edition BS I still haven't bought ME3 nor plan to seeming I now wait for the fallout to find out if I'm going to gamble with it.

They have also quit producing complete editions later on, that have all the DLC in it, so I really just pass on the whole series / games these days that don't do something like that. I guess the $20-30 you miss out on is worth keeping everyone else indoctrinated that it is okay to bleed out your customers.

Robert Cook
profile image
I'm new to the industry but I do understand that day 1 DLC doesn't mean content was withheld. That being said, from the consumer side I feel like the majority tends to view it simply as a way for companies to get more money from the consumer. While increased sales are a good thing for the developers, I like to think this isn't the only motivation for day 1 DLC. My hope is that it's mostly, as stated, a way to satisfy the consumer's desire to continue to enjoy the game at their own pace. Even if it is with this good intention that developers offer day 1 DLC, I feel like the intentions are largely misconstrued due to influence from retailers who often push the feeling that you "need" to get the DLC with the game immediately.

My opinion on the topic is that the sweet spot for early DLC is likely somewhere around 2 weeks after initial release. At around 2 weeks the fast players who have finished the game in a few days will most likely still have it somewhat on their mind, and at this point haven't traded it in yet (though they're probably getting close). For the slower players, 2 weeks has given them enough time to really get comfortable with the game and probably be near completion. The new content can then be something exciting to look forward to, and something to motivate them to keep playing.

Maria Jayne
profile image
And some players, want no DLC at all. You could always go with those people and sell complete games instead.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
profile image
Players who want no DLC can simply not buy DLC even if it is released. I think the real concern is making sure that the focus on DLC does not take away from the main game release.

Day 1 DLC is not innately antagonistic with a "complete" initial game, though I sympathize with situations where that is the case. As mentioned previously there are delays (certification, recertification if bugs are found which does not necessarily drag in the whole dev team, waiting for the discs to be made) during which developers are doing nothing and are often being laid off. Instead they could be working on the next game, a sequel to this game, or a small DLC project -- either way, it does not mean that the quality of the game on disc took a hit, as there are more than enough resources to start working on something else during this down time. Or taking comp time/vacation, but that's a whole other issue :)

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Joshua Hawkins
profile image
I understand that sometimes a production cycle make's an opportunity of day 1 DLC. DLC tends to need a smaller team, less resources, and less production time. So if a somebody comes up w/ something great in the middle of production you can just task a DLC team to it, and not risk the entire production. Since DLC production can move much quicker it's possible this can be released as day 1 DLC.

Now let's take a From Ashe's, and the ME3 ending fiasco. One of my major gripes about ME3 was the lack of content compared to ME2. Less party members, less side missions, pretty much less everything in terms of content. To me From Ashe's is essentially missing/removed/locked content from ME3. When gamers started complaning about the end of ME3 I knew exactly what was going on. Essentially they were unsatisfied, but didn't really know why. When this happens they'll start to tug at loose threads, and unravel the whole thing. Essentially they are looking for any excuse to justify this empty feeling. A quick comparison of ME3's plot will show there's really nothing terrible about the ending. It's fairly on par w/ most other games. What is wrong w/ ME3 is the content compared to ME2. ME3 gives you less party members, less missions, less mini-games and less boss fights compared to ME2. I don't want to say Bioware didn't work hard on ME3. It has several improvements over ME2, but it's just missing the massive amount of content we saw in ME2, and I think consumers showed that.

Sorry I guess I went more on a tangent of ME3's content more than it's DLC, but I think it explains how excluding content from your game to make money on DLC can inintentially upset your fanbase (though I don't think that's what happened w/ ME3).

Zirani Jean-Sylvestre
profile image
Really nothing outrageous about the ending ? Check this out: http://goo.gl/XyQTa (or youtube Mass Effect 3 - Ending Movie Comparison).

Not only it's cheap, but it makes the whole point of "taking decisions" pointless. I can understand the fans are pissed.

Michael Rooney
profile image
I thought the ME3 ending was good because it made your decisions pointless. It was a cool stand to make if done intentionally, and I wish they had stood by it. I do think the revised ending is better in that it changes the cutscenes a little bit between endings, but I still like it as a statement about how screwed everyone was that your decisions were all crappy.

I also don't think the existence of any DLC would have affected the quality of the ending.

Mitchell Fujino
profile image
I think there's a few different things going on here, probably enough for a few new articles.

1) Some people think the main game doesn't have enough content for 60$. There's been plenty of articles on the increasing cost of content exploring that. (Games like Baldur's Gate simply can't be made for that price today.)

2) There's a definite psychological effect where having item B available changes the perception of item A. (many many studies have been done on that.) I think this is harming BioWare's reputation, but this article appears to make the argument that current day 1 DLC purchases are worth it anyways.

3) Hopefully a minority, but I know at least a few people have misconceptions on how budgeting projects works. (not necessarily the commenters here.) Making DLC doesn't diminish the main product at all; it is quite separate with its own profitability requirements.
I've never seen a project that "breaks off a piece" to sell separately. I suppose it's possible, but highly unlikely.

An interesting conflux of issues.. I think BioWare should look into #2 and adjust their plan accordingly, but it seems the current course is to leverage PR. Big companies can be slow to adjust, but it'll be interesting to see how this evolves over time.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Chris Melby
profile image
I'm all for the option of DLC, but here's another option I'd much prefer; how about a UI that doesn't suck balls on the PC? Some of us don't like the Gears-of-War-ONE-button-to-rule-them-all-method, which made ME2 a poorer experience IMO. I'm just ranting, but Bioware's later UI's are amateur at best, which given their history, it really doesn't make sense to why the've taken such a massive dive in quality.

And to add to the discussion, when I preordered the super deluxe editions of Bioware's titles -- on good faith, because of their prior titles -- to find that day one, there was other content that was not included in my $80 game, that really RAGED me.

Anyways, with their UIs taking a dump, the massive level of streamlining, and this DLC BS, I stopped buying games from Bioware. I LOVED Dragon Age and Mass Effect, but I hated DA2 to the point of RAGE and ME2's direction left a sour taste in my mouth, so I have no care to ever play ME3 and would rather just write Bioware off as a company I support.

Nate Anonymous
profile image
If its ready to be placed on the disc or included day 1, then it could have been part of the total game offered for 60 bucks. The reason it was not is because the publisher was trying to introduce a stealth price increase. Any attempt at creative developmental accounting insults the customers intelligence. Just be upfront that this is variable pricing with a price hike for the complete game.

For me, I just avoid buying games day 1. Eventually the game bottoms out in price and I pick up the best of the doc at a fraction of the price. So thanks EA, cap com, etc for teaching me patience :-)

Mitchell Fujino
profile image
Well it's been said several times in this thread already, but here goes again:
I've worked in the industry for over a decade, including time at BioWare, and what you've just said has absolutely no basis in reality.

Here's how it works (again). Before any work is done, the company says "hey, we can make 20 hours of game. It'll need 200 people." so they hire 200 people.
Then sometime later they say "hey, we can also make a 2 hour DLC, but it'll cost as 30 people." So they hire 30 people.

Saying that the work those 30 people did should be free is ridiculous. If no one wanted to pay for it, they would never have hired those 30 people in the first place.
(And if you want those 30 people to lose their jobs, you are perfectly within your rights to not buy DLC ever. But saying the work they did should be free, just because of the timing, is completely absurd.)

Michael Stevens
profile image
@fujino
I don't doubt that for many projects that is the thought process. On large projects in particular it makes sense that good Ideas would continue to be hatched long after it would be reasonable to include them in the main game. There's no reason to waste them.

But it's Naive to think that some of the people clearing the budgets on these games aren't approaching it from the position of "This concept can sell 3 million copies, how little game can we produce without jeopardizing that."

It's tied very closely to preview/preorder culture that drives game-related media. If magazines and websites had to/ chose to interact more with "what a game is" rather than "what a marketing department says a game is " these issues wouldn't be so prevalent.

Michael Rooney
profile image
@"But it's Naive to think that some of the people clearing the budgets on these games aren't approaching it from the position of "This concept can sell 3 million copies, how little game can we produce without jeopardizing that." "

I don't think he was saying that doesn't happen. All he said is that the DLC discussion happens completely separately from that discussion. DLC existing and it's schedule rarely affects the development or deliverables of the main game.

Michael Stevens
profile image
I'm sure that's the case for games like Skyrim as much as I'm sure that's not the case for games like Resident Evil:ORC.

Bisse Mayrakoira
profile image
The problem with DLC is not that it so often lacks substance (you can always not buy it, after all), but how it hurts the rest of the product before it's even out. Extensive grinding to bore the players into buying "unlock DLC" in single player games. Single player design reduced to forms which allow plugging in DLC later. Pay-to-win multiplayer, again sometimes with "unlock DLC" and sometimes naked pay-to-win. Modding support dropped because people having fun with user-created content might get in the way of monetizing and exploiting the player base to the fullest with official DLC. For the same reason, even single player games "need" DRM up the wazoo. More substantial game expansions do not get made; easier to push out completely forgettable bite-size DLC which will sell regardless of quality because it's impulse buy priced.

Ahmad Daniels
profile image
I think the biggest issue is not a lot of people want to pay $60 for games in the first place. You have lots of frugal and dedicated gamer's who would rather not have to spend 80+ on a game. At most it will take advantage of the excitement of gamers, but patient gamer's will just wait it out for a used copy and get regular game + DLC for $60 or lower anyway.

idk the idea of dropping $80 on most of these games is ridiculous to me. I think production values and original retail cost must go down in order for DLC to truly flourish. Tons of these companies have no business promising DLC it should be saved for games with an audience that stays large after its initial hype wave.

At some point someone is going to have to either build tools to make game production easier and cheaper or more companies are just going to have to leave the extremely large budgets to the companies that have money. Not everything has to be $60 dollar high budget games and in this day and age you might just grow your audience and make a better profit if the game itself is good enough.

Matthew Doss
profile image
I've got to agree 100%. Here's my thing. DLC production cycle isn't really the concern that a lot of gamers have.

The big concern is that the actual content in a lot of games is dropping, yet despite this the DLC content, price, and "necessity" of having day 1 DLC is increasing. It seems as if some developers feel that they must release DLC at $20 per addon in order to do good business.

The simple fact is gamers have noticed when the game's campaign has been shortened from 20 hours to 10, to 8, to 6, and some are being completed in an even shorter time frame. Now although that is a separate issue, consider the DLC issue with the above. When game content shrinks, and the DLC content increases, there is a serious issue. Having day 1 DLC for a game with substantial content isn't an issue. Developing a game with little content and then pushing the DLC is.

I can honestly say that a lot of companies that I was a die hard fan of I now despise. Some of these companies are losing the trust of their consumers and ultimately although it may pay off immediately, the long term ramifications are that the gamers that may have once flocked to a new title are not only more wary of new purchases, but in some cases are actually starting to refuse to buy their new titles.

I say release day 1 DLC if you want to. But if the title is lacking in content, and you charge for all of your DLC it's only going to come back to bite you. Some of Bioware's recent titles are evidence of this. Gamers aren't mad that they released day 1 DLC. They ARE mad however if the content feels essential to the main game, or when it feels like the DLC is tacked on to fix the lack of content in their new game. Charging $60 a title with a couple of hours of content, and then another $10-20 a couple more hours of play time just isn't acceptable as it is, even less so if it is done on day 1.

Craig Hauser
profile image
I really don't know who they are talking about. I don't know a single person who actually likes day-1 DLC.

Ben Wang
profile image
I've seen people mention wanting a "complete game" several times now. Are there actually any real definitions for a "complete game" beyond "Stuff I arbitrarily decide should be in the game"?

Dan Felder
profile image
Classic example of customer perceptions coloring things that shouldn't be colored. However, you can't argue with perceptions - you have to either change them or adjust to them.

Right now, from research and all the comments, it seems people are of the mentality the DLC should be the, "optional add-on" to the, "core game". In short, DLC is mentally treated like an expansion.

It's easier to present DLC as an expansion when it's sold a good while after the core game is released. However, other industries manage to get along. Sandwiches are presented with optional added toppings. Add avocado for a dollar to your sandwich and few, if any, customers complain about not being able to get a, "complete sandwich".

Hopefully, the industry will find ways to deal with customer perceptions.

Mark Ludlow
profile image
If you're using a food industry analogy, then the optional toppings analogy works for some situations where DLC is just things like Horse armour. If it's cut content, then it's like paying extra for bread, or meat in your sandwich. In terms of other day 1 DLC that are integral to the story but not enough that the core game suffers (Such as the ME3 chapter/character), it's like having to pay for sauce. The sandwich is complete, but it still feels a bit dry and dull without the extra content. In the case of extra chapters that are separate to the main story, it's like getting a side serve of chips or salad.

Mark Ludlow
profile image
If your game can be blown through in a couple of days and people are feeling unsatisfied enough that they wanted more, then perhaps it is due to poor design rather than a lack of DLC. You don't get your entree, main course, and dessert at once in a restaurant and rush through them, you pace them out so you can enjoy each meal before moving onto the next. Day 1 DLC that is extra content, rather than customisation options, feels like an admission by the developers that they haven't given you enough with the core product, that the core game isn't good enough on its own.

Dan Felder
profile image
Last I checked, if players steamroll through your 30+ hour game in a set of sleepless nights and then they're eager to play even more... That's not usually indicative of bad design. Unless you're claiming the the last time I was so into a book that I could barely put it down and stayed up all night until I finished it, then went out eagerly to find some short stories about the character or a sequel right away... That all that enthusiasm meant the book was somehow badly written.

Matt Bruns
profile image
Yes, I always stash away an extra 20$ to spend on DLC the same day i buy a 60$ game. Is this some kind of proxy target they are presenting to us Nation of Gamer's, so they can drop the 80$ price tag when the next gen hits, and well be like " oh no biggie, it comes with free DLC, why not make it an even hundie bro! Its worth it, i hear ill get to equip my character with earplugs so he cant here me yelling at the tv screen". You have got to be crapping in my taco! DLC is profit driven, even when good intentions are shown, it still ads up to a tool for extended revenue. The simple solution is do not purchase it if you do not agree. My worry is how many devo's are catering to the whims of "temporary gamer's" a direction i do not think is positive for a truly passionate and involved individual.
Check this tasty quote from Peter Moore "Free-to-play will become the dominant pricing model by the end of the decade."
I will say this, if micro-transactions get in the way of a gamer "owning" his game and furthermore the characters and story, then this is a fundamental mistake. "The human species has a nack for seeking what they do not have, as opposed to what is already there."(Im not sure if that's an actual quote, but it seems like something that may have been in a short-lived sci-fi channel show:)

Inside any true video game lies a soul. Right now many are finding ways to hollow out this concept, and find constant variables that suit the predictable and unavoidable drive to make profit from these creations focusing on human lust, and not passion. Lets remember at the end of the day the gaming industry is a gateway for tens of thousands of creative people who rely on it for their livelihood. It must be protected from vultures and bandulu's at all cost. I speak for the videogame, for it has no tounge.

On a side note i need to stop watching so many Ridley Scott movies before i come on Gamasutra to post.
Anyhow

Allan Munyika
profile image
I think developers should focus more on building replayability into their games instead of just running to DLC for keeping players interested in theirs games. Replayability is a great way of adding value to a game, I still have my CoD:MW 1, 2, and BlackOps installed alongside CoD:MW3 installation on my PC and I frequently replay the older titles despite having the latest one installed. Other games that I have replayed include The Witcher 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and Metal gear Solid 2: SoL (the only reason why I'm still holding onto my PS2). Another game that deserves a nod for longevity is Bethesda's TESV:Skyrim, I'm still playing that game even today and because there is so much content in it. I think developers should take up the old and now little discussed about topic of replayability.

Don Moar
profile image
I'm not in the industry any more so I am asking this as a consumer: If the issue is more a perception (real or imagined) of decreasing content / replayability in the full game and less about offering Day 1 DLC, how do we (as consumers) measure that? Is it even measurable?

Simas Oliveira
profile image
What? This is ridiculous. If he were talking to investors I'd understand "yeah, put whatever out 1st day and 53% of customer base will bite".

I've read all comments and while I agree with the common sentiment around here, I do have to point out that almost everyone is throwing around the $20 price tag as if it's the standard DLC price. It is not, in fact it's pretty rare. Only one that comes to mind is Skyrim's. The norm is $10. Sometimes it's $5 or $6 or even less (for example EA's NFS or Fight Night, Capcom's SF), sometimes it's $15 (Activision's CoD).

I find the food analogy is perfect. I can have extra fries or beverage for an extra fee, I don't mind. But charge me extra for something that's feels like the "core" product, I rage. You arguably can have a meal without napkins, but you charge for it and people will get mad. You give rubbish plastic plates, cups, knifes, forks, etc, and charge extra for fine silverware, people will be upset. And don't tell them they are wrong because of schedules, projects, budgets, profit margins, extra hires or something else they don't care about. It might be all true, but that doesn't matter in the end.

If I buy a game like NFS and there are extra cars, I'm ok with it. I don't feel the need to drive all cars in the game. Extra outfits in Street Fighter, that's cool too. Extra multiplayer maps in FPS's? Go nuts! But story driven DLC or extra characters and/or story line just make people feel like they don't own the complete game. I have no facts to support that, just my personal feeling, but if I pay top dollars for a game, feeling that I don't get to have the full game on the day I bought it is a bug bummer.

And if you can't convince me, a person who actually knows pretty well about those projects, budgets, schedules, certification processes shenanigans, you won't convince the average joe who can't tell a publisher and a developer apart.

Simas Oliveira
profile image
Double post, sorry...

Eric Geer
profile image
The more DLC that comes out--the less I seem to care about it.

I think the only DLC that I have paid for in a while is the BF3 Premium--I bitched and bitched about it, but inevitably payed for it because I could save a few bucks than buying all the maps individually. Before that....um...not really sure what..maybe like $5 "Monster Hunter" weapons for Dragon's Dogma.

Am I unhappy with it, Yes. Am I so unhappy with it that I would stop playing on of my favorite games, No. But I tell you this. I wouldn't throw $50 for DLC at just any game. The game must be special.

Outside of the usual reasons, Day 1 DLC always bothered me because I always wondered who the fuck finished the game in the first day and has time to even get to the DLC.

Christopher Thigpen
profile image
As a player and developer. That is a bold faced mistruth.

No consumer wants DLC just as the game is released. That is false.

Inserting their marketing ethos doesn't mean it is truth.

I feel cheated of sorts if i purchase a game and there is already first day DLC.


it makes me feel like the company is gouging the players for money. almost like improper begging and armed robbery.

Stuart Brown
profile image
Let's put some figures together.
An old gamespot posting reported that, a week after launch, revenue for game DLC for Dragon Age Origins had exceeded $1m.
(http://uk.gamespot.com/news/dragon-age-dlc-nets-1-million-bf1943-
sells-12m-6239818)

This article reckons that this "well over $1m" corresponds to 53% of the total DLC sold. So the total revenue for DLC is roughly $2m - $2.3m. There were 7 different DLCs offered, but only the first 2, which were $15 and $7, were available at launch. Make the simplifying assumption that everyone bought both, then $1.2m / 23 = ~50,000 people bought launch DLC.

For comparison, Dragon Age Origins sold about 3.2m worldwide, according to a Destructoid post from last year. So about 3.1% of players bought DLC total .

So lets refigure the headline with our back of the envelope calculations:

"Bioware: About 50,000 Dragon Age: Origins players wanted Day One DLC".

This conversation reminds me of Edward Norton's monologue in Fight Club, over the calculation made by automobile companies about the cost of a recall versus the cost of fighting court battles over faulty parts. Simply put, Bioware is counting the cost of mining this profitable niche (the intangible: the badwill generated, reputation damage and tangible: content production cost) as being less than the profit from tangibly grinding out the additional dollars from this committed minority and intangibly (benefit: piracy, used sales etc.).
Normalising it through obfuscation of the numbers involved is part of this.


none
 
Comment: