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BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC

There's an interesting quote on Joystiq from a GDC Europe talk by BioWare director of online development Fernando Melo, who says that a majority of the profit they saw from Dragon Age DLC was from sales of day-one DLC packs Stone Prisoner and Warden's Keep, saying this accounted for 53% of their DLC income from the game (thanks nin). Word is:

This figure accounts for those who bought Stone Prisoner for $15 in a used copy of Origins, and those who purchased Warden's Keep for $7 outside of its inclusion in the Digital Deluxe Edition. Since these two DLC packs, Dragon Age: Origins has had seven additional iterations of downloadable content, which account for less than half of the total DLC revenue from Origins.

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43. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 16, 2012, 08:38 Verno
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Aug 15, 2012, 22:36:
The point is the top feedback message is not forum posts but sales.

Nah I think the point was you just wanted to post some snark
 
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42. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 15, 2012, 22:36 StingingVelvet
 
Verno wrote on Aug 15, 2012, 18:16:
The assumption that only people on forums might dislike DLC is inherently flawed and besides the point. You're a person on a forum too.

The point is the top feedback message is not forum posts but sales.
 
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41. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 15, 2012, 18:16 Verno
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Aug 15, 2012, 17:58:
Sure, but in the end you can't blame companies for wanting to make money. That's the perspective that gets me in debates here a lot I guess, but it's just common sense to me.

Sure you can, it's all about how they make money that matters to consumers and that's often what people are upset about. Some companies do DLC well and other companies are really shitty about it. That's really the whole point, carrot not stick. There's some day one DLC I've really liked and there's some I thought was really scummy, I don't have to love the entire concept just because blah blah business, capitalism rah rah rah

If DLC makes them money, day-one DLC makes them money, of course they are going to make it. And if it makes them money it means enough consumers accepted it that it can do so, no matter what people on forums say.

The assumption that only people on forums might dislike DLC is inherently flawed and besides the point. You're a person on a forum too.
 
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40. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 15, 2012, 17:58 StingingVelvet
 
Verno wrote on Aug 15, 2012, 11:22:
I see everyone's points here but consumer markets don't act as a single minded entity and are often shaped by what is available. That said, I agree with you that no one forces a gun to peoples heads and make them purchase things. Although if someone wants to play more of something and the only choice offered to them is to buy DLC or wait years for a sequel it's hard to argue that's a compelling consumer choice. It's no surprise people buckle because its an entertainment hobby, not politics. I think his point was that even if a large portion of the market voted with their wallets and didn't purchase DLC, it might not be enough because the profit margins on DLC are higher (according to gaming companies).

Sure, but in the end you can't blame companies for wanting to make money. That's the perspective that gets me in debates here a lot I guess, but it's just common sense to me. If DLC makes them money, day-one DLC makes them money, of course they are going to make it. And if it makes them money it means enough consumers accepted it that it can do so, no matter what people on forums say.
 
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39. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 15, 2012, 11:22 Verno
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Aug 15, 2012, 11:05:
If a few companies control the vast majority of game content, which I don't think I agree with but whatever, then they got to that position because customers supported them. Customers can quickly remove that support if they choose to. Customers have ALL the power.

I see everyone's points here but consumer markets don't act as a single minded entity and are often shaped by what is available. That said, I agree with you that no one forces a gun to peoples heads and make them purchase things. Although if someone wants to play more of something and the only choice offered to them is to buy DLC or wait years for a sequel it's hard to argue that's a compelling consumer choice. It's no surprise people buckle because its an entertainment hobby, not politics. I think his point was that even if a large portion of the market voted with their wallets and didn't purchase DLC, it might not be enough because the profit margins on DLC are higher (according to gaming companies).
 
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38. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 15, 2012, 11:05 StingingVelvet
 
Dades wrote on Aug 15, 2012, 07:26:
That's not what I meant conehead. I'm sorry that you don't realize that several large companies control the vast majority of content offered to customers in the first place. If you want content involving your favorite franchises and characters going forward it's going to be a binary choice because DLC encompasses more and more content in products. This combined with massive amounts of marketing means that no one has to be a forum minority to be upset about DLC, there is little anyone can do about it since its a high profit item that will make money on little sales.

If a few companies control the vast majority of game content, which I don't think I agree with but whatever, then they got to that position because customers supported them. Customers can quickly remove that support if they choose to. Customers have ALL the power.
 
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37. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 15, 2012, 08:58 SXO
 
Bhruic wrote on Aug 14, 2012, 18:17:
This is hardly surprising news. People tend to play a game when it first comes out. People tend not to go back and replay games (I know lots of us do, but we're not exactly a good random sampling). So having DLC come out 3 months later isn't going to get the sales that DLC right away is, simply because by that point fewer people will be interested in going back to play it.
I totally agree with this. The way these companies interpret their collected data bothers me.

@Dades & StingingVelvet
You both have good points, and I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While I've always complained about people continuing to fork over their money for DLC, thereby legitimizing this business practice, I sometimes wonder if at least some portion of the consumer base feels like they don't have much choice. For example, Battlefield 3 has all these new map packs labeled as "expansions" being released. If among a group of 5 friends, 2 of them buy them, that will potentially split them up when they try to play together, so the other 3 will be compelled to purchase the map packs begrudgingly.

This comment was edited on Aug 15, 2012, 09:07.
 
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36. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 15, 2012, 07:26 Dades
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Aug 15, 2012, 01:57:
You acting like anyone is forced to buy an entertainment media product, let alone an add-on to an entertainment media product, is probably the stupidest thing I have ever heard.

That's not what I meant conehead. I'm sorry that you don't realize that several large companies control the vast majority of content offered to customers in the first place. If you want content involving your favorite franchises and characters going forward it's going to be a binary choice because DLC encompasses more and more content in products. This combined with massive amounts of marketing means that no one has to be a forum minority to be upset about DLC, there is little anyone can do about it since its a high profit item that will make money on little sales.
 
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35. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 15, 2012, 01:57 StingingVelvet
 
Dades wrote on Aug 14, 2012, 22:15:
Of course DLC sales can be forced on customers, there are a few large publishers who control the majority of the industry. The only real impediment to that is physical retail distribution. People want to game, they are not going to stop gaming because EA keeps shifting more content to DLC. The whole reason DLC works is because the prices are not significant enough to anger customers. They won't stop buying until they overreach, it's a big market and most DLC is very high profit so even if a majority stopped buying it probably wouldn't be enough. So take your lectures about forum minorities and shove them.

You acting like anyone is forced to buy an entertainment media product, let alone an add-on to an entertainment media product, is probably the stupidest thing I have ever heard.
 
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34. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 14, 2012, 22:15 Dades
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Aug 14, 2012, 13:30:
Why listen to sales data and consumer acceptance when you should be listening to the angry minority on forums!

Oh wait...

Of course DLC sales can be forced on customers, there are a few large publishers who control the majority of the industry. The only real impediment to that is physical retail distribution. People want to game, they are not going to stop gaming because EA keeps shifting more content to DLC. The whole reason DLC works is because the prices are not significant enough to anger customers. They won't stop buying until they overreach, it's a big market and most DLC is very high profit so even if a majority stopped buying it probably wouldn't be enough. So take your lectures about forum minorities and shove them.
 
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33. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 14, 2012, 21:55 StingingVelvet
 
mag wrote on Aug 14, 2012, 17:34:
If Capitalism 101 contained even an inkling of truth to it, the higher efficiency of the Polish group (and similar) would mean that monsters like EA would shortly go out of business.

You praise CDP, but before The Witcher 2 came out they were in serious trouble, laying some people off and canceling the original Witcher's console port. It's not easy to stay profitable for anyone on the gaming industry.

In any case, nice dodge. You didn't answer the fact people support this, which is the whole core of the issue.
 
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32. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 14, 2012, 18:17 Bhruic
 
This is hardly surprising news. People tend to play a game when it first comes out. People tend not to go back and replay games (I know lots of us do, but we're not exactly a good random sampling). So having DLC come out 3 months later isn't going to get the sales that DLC right away is, simply because by that point fewer people will be interested in going back to play it.

The problem with that is that no one has been claiming there's not a financial justification for day-one DLC.
 
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31. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 14, 2012, 17:34 mag
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Aug 14, 2012, 16:58:
SXO wrote on Aug 14, 2012, 16:19:
So its the consumers' fault that developers that work for mega-publishers like EA have absolutely no idea how to control their spending? Why is it that CD Projekt can produce The Witcher and The Witcher 2, give away all the "DLC" for free, sell "only" 4 million copies combined (both games and across all platforms), and they're still profitable? Does The Witcher 2 look like a low-budget game to you? How about you stop and question why EA's budgets are so astronomical, and whether these incredible games really cost as much as they're claiming they do to make? It's all horsesh*t, the companies have just become bloated insatiably gluttonous monsters.

Another example is the original Crysis which cost $22 million to make according to CryTek, and they were still profitable after the first year. The truth is when your competitor is making $100 million in the same time frame, your shareholders start to cry foul. So what happens? Time to start squeezing every last drop of money from your customers so your earnings reports start to look sweeter.

US corporation has more overhead than a smaller Polish group, news at 11. Of course EA spends more money, on employees if nothing else.

None of that is relevant though. What is relevant is consumers have ALL the power. If people told EA to stick their DLC up their ass then EA would pretty much do so. Instead we say "more please" and EA is obliging.

Capitalism 101.

If Capitalism 101 contained even an inkling of truth to it, the higher efficiency of the Polish group (and similar) would mean that monsters like EA would shortly go out of business.
 
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30. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 14, 2012, 16:58 StingingVelvet
 
SXO wrote on Aug 14, 2012, 16:19:
So its the consumers' fault that developers that work for mega-publishers like EA have absolutely no idea how to control their spending? Why is it that CD Projekt can produce The Witcher and The Witcher 2, give away all the "DLC" for free, sell "only" 4 million copies combined (both games and across all platforms), and they're still profitable? Does The Witcher 2 look like a low-budget game to you? How about you stop and question why EA's budgets are so astronomical, and whether these incredible games really cost as much as they're claiming they do to make? It's all horsesh*t, the companies have just become bloated insatiably gluttonous monsters.

Another example is the original Crysis which cost $22 million to make according to CryTek, and they were still profitable after the first year. The truth is when your competitor is making $100 million in the same time frame, your shareholders start to cry foul. So what happens? Time to start squeezing every last drop of money from your customers so your earnings reports start to look sweeter.

US corporation has more overhead than a smaller Polish group, news at 11. Of course EA spends more money, on employees if nothing else.

None of that is relevant though. What is relevant is consumers have ALL the power. If people told EA to stick their DLC up their ass then EA would pretty much do so. Instead we say "more please" and EA is obliging.

Capitalism 101.
 
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29. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 14, 2012, 16:58 Mashiki Amiketo
 
Wallshadows wrote on Aug 14, 2012, 12:51:
You mean like an expansion pack?

We'll just come full-circle some time in the future where DLC will turn back in to expansion packs which will then bring back DLC and so forth.
Yeah that sounds good to me. I could go for the return of actual expansion packs.
 
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28. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 14, 2012, 16:54 Beamer
 
To the Crysis cost $22MM comment, I'd wager a large chunk of the engine costs weren't attributed to the development and was instead attributed to the licensing business.

I suspect the same to Epic claiming GoW2 was $10MM.

I'd guess, but can't prove, these games used top of the line engines completely customized to their needs for pennies.

If I'm wrong then every other major company is doing it so ridiculously wrong.
 
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27. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 14, 2012, 16:19 SXO
 
NKD wrote on Aug 14, 2012, 15:36:
NegaDeath wrote on Aug 14, 2012, 13:29:
They're confusing "importance" with "financially successful douchebaggery".

When you're a business, especially a game studio that is just one disappointing title from complete failure, financially successful douchebaggery is highly important.

Day 1 DLC works. People buy it. Consumers have spoken with their wallets and unfortunately they disagree with the popular Internet opinion of Day 1 DLC. It's not even an essential product. It's not like you absolutely have to have the DLC and you are being forced at gunpoint to buy it. Yet people still buy it.

A lot of these companies are portrayed as being somehow needlessly greedy. But most of them are financially struggling, at least in business terms. Greed is about excess. A lot of these companies are just keeping their bottom line intact with these supposedly greedy tactics. Sleazy? Yeah. But hardly excessive.

Everybody wants to play triple A blockbuster games, but nobody wants to pay what it costs to develop them.

Convince the industry to lay off 75% of their employees and make lower budget games and you won't have to deal with Day 1 DLC or any other of these recent sleazy tactics. But if people expect game budgets to continue to increase, logically the developers' income must also increase.
So its the consumers' fault that developers that work for mega-publishers like EA have absolutely no idea how to control their spending? Why is it that CD Projekt can produce The Witcher and The Witcher 2, give away all the "DLC" for free, sell "only" 4 million copies combined (both games and across all platforms), and they're still profitable? Does The Witcher 2 look like a low-budget game to you? How about you stop and question why EA's budgets are so astronomical, and whether these incredible games really cost as much as they're claiming they do to make? It's all horsesh*t, the companies have just become bloated insatiably gluttonous monsters.

Another example is the original Crysis which cost $22 million to make according to CryTek, and they were still profitable after the first year. The truth is when your competitor is making $100 million in the same time frame, your shareholders start to cry foul. So what happens? Time to start squeezing every last drop of money from your customers so your earnings reports start to look sweeter.
 
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26. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 14, 2012, 16:18 SimplyMonk
 
Day 1 DLC for $5 vs the game costing $65 seems a fair trade to me.  
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25. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 14, 2012, 15:56 Verno
 
When you're a business, especially a game studio that is just one disappointing title from complete failure, financially successful douchebaggery is highly important.

I think your rant is kind of misdirected. Publishers benefit the most from DLC, although some savvy developers are now getting into the game as well. Day 1 DLC was largely devised as a mechanism to combat used game sales, not to keep struggling developers afloat necessarily. Anyways I think what the market has spoken on is wanting a relatively complete product on day 1 and many companies have figured out the optimal way to exploit that desire. Sure it's just business and most people get that but at the same time some do it a lot worse than others.

I think the long term business model of many publishers needs to be revisited, DLC or not many publishers are still not putting up very favorable numbers this year. It's hard to tell if that's just the console lull before the next-gen or if its a more permanent problem. Given the huge number of ways to game and get other forms of entertainment these days it's going to be interesting to see just how successful next-gen systems are.
 
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24. Re: BioWare on the Importance of Day One DLC Aug 14, 2012, 15:36 NKD
 
NegaDeath wrote on Aug 14, 2012, 13:29:
They're confusing "importance" with "financially successful douchebaggery".

When you're a business, especially a game studio that is just one disappointing title from complete failure, financially successful douchebaggery is highly important.

Day 1 DLC works. People buy it. Consumers have spoken with their wallets and unfortunately they disagree with the popular Internet opinion of Day 1 DLC. It's not even an essential product. It's not like you absolutely have to have the DLC and you are being forced at gunpoint to buy it. Yet people still buy it.

A lot of these companies are portrayed as being somehow needlessly greedy. But most of them are financially struggling, at least in business terms. Greed is about excess. A lot of these companies are just keeping their bottom line intact with these supposedly greedy tactics. Sleazy? Yeah. But hardly excessive.

Everybody wants to play triple A blockbuster games, but nobody wants to pay what it costs to develop them.

Convince the industry to lay off 75% of their employees and make lower budget games and you won't have to deal with Day 1 DLC or any other of these recent sleazy tactics. But if people expect game budgets to continue to increase, logically the developers' income must also increase.
 
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If you don't like where gaming is heading, stop giving your money to the people who are taking it in that direction.
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