News Article

Decreasing Digital Resistance

Posted by Emma H. Pira

Players have accepted the DLC format according to Ubisoft

During E3 back in June, Chris Earl - VP of digital publishing for Ubisoft - sat down with Games Industry to talk about downloadable content and its current status in the gaming community. Earl says that the resistance for digital downloads is decreasing and that certain features of it, such as DLC's and Season Passes, are more or less already accepted among gamers in general. The important thing for publishers and developers is to offer purchasable downloads that give the players the choice to enhance the game, rather than paying to patch or fill in gaps in an otherwise incomplete gaming experience.

For the latest big Ubisoft title, Assassin's Creed IV: Blackflag, the company introduced the 'Time Saver' packs that would allow a player to stock up on resources or reveal collectables on their mini-maps — basically saving them time, not having to run around and do it all blindly. Ubisoft charged a dollar or two per pack and, surprisingly enough, the backlash from gamers were almost non-existent.

"There was no resistance. Well, maybe there were 12 guys somewhere who said something, but whatever. As a whole, there wasn't a problem."

Chris Earl also says that each time a company or a game successfully introduce purchasable content or microtransactions, players become more and more comfortable in the increasing ways of monetisation in games. Keeping an eye on what works and what doesn't in the industry as a whole makes the companies smarter in what content to put out there and what content to charge to put out there.

"Where it hurts is when you feel like you're forced, or you're at a disadvantage or can't do it unless you [pay money]. That's kind of a remorseful feeling, and nobody likes that."

With that said, Earl also adds that games' add-ons still can add a certain competitive advantage through the exchange of money and that that isn't all for the worse. To clarify, Earl shares a lived experience in the game World of Tanks. In the game the player earn better ammo by either grinding away, spending hours playing the game leveling up or simply — by buying it. Now, while his son has no income to do the latter, he does have the time to do the former. For Earl himself it's the complete opposite; he doesn't have the time, but he does have the money to buy the ammo which allows him and his son to still play at the same level. As Earl sees it, they both payed for the content with what recourses they could afford. This kind of extra feature complicates the design process, as it could create ill will and malice among players; but when done right can offer a revenue without poking the bee's nest too much.

How well both this and the "Time Saver" packs fit into the description of enhancing the game is down for debate. It's a slippery slope and a constant discussion — should games offer competitive advantage in purchased add-ons? What would you consider be a good balance? And what kind of extra content would you willing to pay for? Comment below and give your thoughts.


User Comments (5)



EternalDragonX said:

Actually with me personally if I see tons of DLC before a game is released I wont purchase it until the price drops 50%. Then I can get the game and the dlc for normal price or not at all.....Sooooooooo bite be UBISOFT



kensredemption said:

"The important thing for publishers and developers is to offer purchasable downloads that give the players the choice to enhance the game, rather than paying to patch or fill in gaps in an otherwise incomplete gaming experience."

I've yet to see any DLC from any publisher that actually enhances a game. The DLC for Dragon Age and Mass Effect have always been made to fill in the gaps for the storyline and the usual Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty DLC just adds more vanity for players in-game. I seldom critique things from the gaming industry with an extreme bias against it, but DLC just makes developers lazy and gives them an excuse to sell an incomplete game at full price and supplement their income with either gimmickier add-ons or vital points in a story.

So, like EternalDragonX said: Bite me, Ubisoft.



heyzeus002 said:

Ideally a lot of what he said would be ok if true but the fact that dlc is announced way before release just stinks of publishers taking the p1$$ but if people keep buying it then cant really blame them I suppose.why make a content rich game when you can cut stuff and charge for it again after all..



Pinkman said:

This is why my heart belongs to nintendo. I love my One but everytime I go to play anything i'm hit with a huge patch then when I am finally playing a game I am being offered dlc. I already paid for the game I dont want to pay again.

Forza is the worst case of this in my opinion. The dlc cars shouldnt show up at the car select screen when I havent paid for them. Its clever but annoying as hell especially when a season pass is £40, thats what I paid for the full game! It really puts me off buying games for xbox because they are incomplete, at the end of day if content adds to the game and enhances the story it should already be in the game.



sinalefa said:

For me the only thing decreasing is the amount of money I give to Ubisoft. Games are already expensive as they are to keep adding costs to the player. And since there was no resistance, then they will keep abusing the model.

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