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.