Sunday, 10 February 2013

DLC ain't going no where

I have a serious question about DLC,  who is buying it? Chatting to Hex, it becomes apparent that between the two of us, we have brought all of a dozen pieces of DLC. Yet we are now in the position where pretty much every single game released has some form of post release content, hell half the time it is being revealed before the game is even out. For the developers/publishers to keep churning it out,  there must surely be a decent market for it.

Is it a case of optimistic publishers seeing Activision selling over priced map packs for their titan like Call of Duty series, and thinking that they could easily sell as many.  I have no real figures to go on but surely the average game DLC isn't going to get picked up by more than 20% of the the people who brought the game.  Surely something like the Skyrim DLC is not picking up vast numbers. Maybe I am looking at this the wrong way.

Let's pick on Skyrim shall we. It has 3 pieces of DLC,  with the slightest being Hearthfire, which is essentially a nice house for your character.  They we're charging 4 pounds for this. If the mod scene on the PC is anything to go by, this DLC probably took a handful of guys a month or so to make.  Even if it only had a 5% take up of the DLC,  still assuming they make #3 for every one sold,  you are probably still looking at a couple of hundred thousand pounds.  The bigger expansions netting in money in the region of millions for 4 or 5 months work. It is easy to see the appeal.  

Especially when they can use dlc as an incentive to pre-order games,  the as in the recently released Borderlands 2. This is them selling stuff that they very clearly had nearly,  if not completely finished by the time the game launched.  So they pick up a few more  pre-order sales, which are good for them and a few people pick up the DLC later on. Humm maybe I am missing the point. Games are expensive to make, and perhaps a couple of hundred grand made from DLC is enough to turn a disappointing result into a success. Hell maybe a good piece of DLC is all that stands between a developer closing and staying open, even if it doesn't make a fortune.

I suppose looking again at the long road, many games also have a, well soft relaunch, when they release the game of the year (or whatever silly title they give it) edition. Dozens of these come out, with all the DLC and usually a decent price, like Arkham City Game of the Year, and people who may not have thought about buying it will pick up, as it seems like a good deal. Hell I picked up Darksiders 2 in the Steam Sale over Christmas, and I paid an extra couple of quid to include all the DLC. I guess it must be worth doing, with some companies even allowing people to buy DLC in advance, at a small discount. This is something publishing giants like EA and Activision do as standard now.

Maybe most people don't pick up DLC, it is something that still keeps publishers and developers happy, and I can't see it going away.

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