“Right now, when you mention downloadable content, someone will mention a horse armour joke, and we need to get around that,” says Tom Armitage, a writer for creative design consultancy group Schulze and Webb.
Armitage, speaking to a packed-out room at the Develop conference in Brighton, was referring to the notorious horse armor add-on for Bethesda’s Oblivion; something which many consider a trivial addition set at the relatively steep price of 200 MS points.
Though his attitude throughout the session certainly wasn’t that digital add-ons should be free, Armitage went through a number of games which have economically benefited from being more realistic, and bold, with their pricing structures.
Epic’s Black update to Unreal Tournament 3 – coupled with a promotional weekend giveaway of the game – rocketed the game’s uptake some two years after its release, said Armitage, and is a great example of how servicing games can bring in new audiences, new buzz, and ultimately new revenue
“The impact of giving things away is high,” he said.
Armitage also touched on the intensification of the game production model, where the stakes are at an all-time high. He said that turning a game into a service can be an ideal answer to this.
“Services spread cost over time, and nothing helps that more than digital distribution,” Armitage said, adding that he believed that the shift to the world of services is “inevitable”.
The world is far too connected now, he said, the shift to services is imminent.