Day-one DLC is a vital component on a publisher’s balance sheet, but it’s also a practice regarded with wide-held disdain by many vocal consumers.
It’s a reaction that the industry has noticed, Bethesda VP Pete Hines told OXM, but is also one that should also be kept in check.
"I mean, certainly the reaction to it is pretty apparent," Hines stated. "I think there is, at least among a certain segment of the gaming audience [that] don’t think they quite understand the development process and the point at which you have to stop making the game and you have to finish the game.
The content people stop making new content a fair amount of time before [a game] ships; it’s not like in the old days when it was like the day before or a week before.
There’s a pretty long gap where your artists and designers are fixing a bug if they get one, or they may be playing the game to find bugs, but they’re not making a new anything for a long time, and you have creative people who are used to creating – so why would you make them wait some period of time, months in some cases, to start making new stuff so you can say it was after DLC?"
The fact remains, though, that post-release DLC is split into two camps – content that is produced after main development is complete and content that is ring-fenced off from the day one product to try and generate extra revenue in addition to a game’s purchase price.
Defenders of the practise argue that the content sold at a premium would not have been produced were it not for the estimated additional revenue provided by its digital sales. It takes a remarkable lack of cynicism to accept that at face value.
And in this day and age where triple-A games are becoming an ever harder sale to consumers, testing the trust of the gaming public is a very tangible risk.
That’s what it all, ultimately, boils down to. Consumers provide the final mandate for such content by choosing to purchase it. And that’s of course a choice they’re free not to make.
Everyone should just do what they think works best for them,” he added. The customers have the decision to buy or not to buy as they see fit."