I already wrote about the disappointing and understandably frustrating DLC approach that happened with Evolve at launch. Gamers were justifiably cynical about a game launching with over $60 of additional aesthetic content, especially since many had already voiced concerns about the price point and lack of content. Evolve’s idea is definitely innovative, and the approach to “multiplayer only” is certainly admirable. Unfortunately their DLC sales numbers are where many of us could foresee them landing.
I’ve spent a good bit of time discussing and talking with community members of Destiny, and a common complaint is the lack of customization with respect to how your player looks. And it’s clear from the variety of character rewards for Call of Duty clan wars and the litany of aesthetic customization DLC packs that are dominating the “add on” section of the Xbox store that this type of extra digital content is popular. But if the recent Evolve DLC sales numbers are any indication, the approach they have taken is not working. While the lack of sales is likely related to the criticism and controversy surrounding so much being available on launch day, it’s probably also related to the overwhelming nature of seeing that much available content. Is there a way to approach this that would help make that large amount of content more accessible but also more alluring?
Divide and Conquer
Since the lack of aesthetic DLC sales is obviously not due to the lack of interest from gamers who love tweaking what their characters look like, it’s time to rethink how to package and sell this content. My recommendation would be to break up sets of skins or texture packs and give a free starter pack to everyone. The starter pack could come with one piece of all the available sets. So, for example, if you have a full set of green lizard armor where you need boots, gloves, a chest piece, and a helmet to have the complete set, you could include just one piece of the set in the starter pack. You are achieving two things by doing this. First, you are showing some good will to your community by proving your extra content isn’t just a cash grab, but rather is a way to add some depth and variety to your game. And secondly, and more importantly, you are whetting the appetite of your audience by giving them a sample of what they could buy and also incentivizing purchasing more to complete the set they like the most. It’s a lot easier to browse available aesthetic DLC when you have a frame of reference and a familiarity with what it all looks like from the free starter pack. And players would enjoy getting to see the way different aesthetic changes look on their character in game before committing to purchase anything extra.
Demo the DLC
Many games don’t just sell fancy skins and cool looking character outfits as extra content. A great way for companies to add to the story and experience of their game is by offering extended campaigns or missions. Often times players may not know if the extra content is worth it, like with the consistent outcry and criticism of The Dark Below DLC for Destiny. A creative approach to getting players to buy your extra content would be to let them try out a demo of it before purchasing. This would force companies to create quality content but would also create a culture of interest as players could step into worlds and experiences they may have avoided because it gets too expensive to take the risk. No matter how you shake this, DLC practices and approaches need to change and adapt if consumers aren’t biting.
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