BioWare Discusses DLC, Online Passes, Micro-Transactions
The hows and whys of maximizing profit.
Selling a video game isn't as simple as it once was. Once a title is released for mass consumption, publishers look to DLC, online passes and micro-transactions to continue bringing in cash. BioWare spoke at GDC Europe today and went over the methods of making more money from games and what best benefits gamers and publishers
"Fans do want more content. From the moment the game launches. They tend to say 'I want it now!' So it needs to be there when it's ready," explained Fernando Melo, BioWare's online dev director. "They choose when to pick it up, day one or later."
BioWare put this into effect in Mass Effect 3, offering the From Ashes DLC from the moment of retail release. Day-one DLC has business implications as well. Melo expanded on that idea and talked about how the writers and concept artists that successfully set up a title could instantly go back to work on more content for Mass Effect 3.
"An analogue [to the Online Pass] is free-to-play games, or games with a premium layer of service," Melo said.
By adding micro-transactions to the franchise, BioWare sought to expand the Mass Effect universe. Some gamers may take issue with the idea of spending money on items that you can unlock simply by playing the game, but the publisher views micro-transactions as a way to give faster access to their players and a profitable venture to boot.
"If you have five DLC packs at $10 each, you can only ever earn a total of $50," explained Melo. Adding in micro-transactions open up the publisher to make any amount of money they choose, so long as gamers are interested in the new options.
"Gamers are actually happier, as they are able to spend money when they want. People may not want to pay upfront. They may be happier to pay when they are 'in the moment'."
Honestly, I can't believe Melo broke down that BioWare is profiting on the knee-jerk reaction of consumers. Take the statement however you'd like, although I'm feeling a little used after reading it.
Melo said that the DLC packs have been successful for BioWare and that by selling so many extra pieces of content, they are able to develop free multiplayer expansions. This creates a positive feedback loop, as those expansions bring in more players who then spend more money.