It’s no secret that selling extra content for video games is here to stay, and many of us welcome it as a way to extend the experiences of the games we enjoy. Recently, however, I wrote that the DLC sales for Evolve are proof that companies need to approach selling extra content differently. One of the things I suggested in my post and video was that games should allow you to demo DLC before buying because it’s too risky and expensive to drop money on something you may not enjoy. Obviously the makers of Mortal Kombat had this plan in play before I wrote my post, but hopefully more games take my advice about demoing DLC.
Why try before you buy works
I think the reason many companies may shy away from demoing their content is that it might turn away would-be buyers. This is certainly a valid concern as part of the risk for any experiential digital entertainment is that if it’s easy to dip your toe in, it’s just as easy to walk away. But something to consider is the value of exposure. Yes, there is probably a certain percentage of consumers that may have bought, but trying out the extra content dissuaded them from doing so. On the other side of this coin are all the people who decide to buy only because they got to take the DLC for a spin. I’m not a market research expert, but to me it seems pretty obvious that the group of people who would have bought but then decide not to is a much smaller slice of the consumer base than those who are won over by getting to demo a piece of content. And if I’m wrong then Mortal Kombat will learn the hard way. But I think the lack of DLC sales for Evolve prove that, even if I’m not right about demoing extra content, it’s time to try out new things like what Mortal Kombat is doing.
Just a tease, please
Now, I have to admit, it’s easier to let people try out a character in a fighting game than it is to demo an extended campaign, but surely there is a way to do this. My suggestion would be to let a player get 5-10 minutes into a mission and then pull the plug right before it gets good. Demos on the Xbox 360 use to work this way, and I bought a handful of indie titles only because I got to try them out first. I can actually remember renting Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 games with the intent of seeing if they were worth spending my precious saved money on them. So DLC could definitely benefit from this type of “whet their appetite” form of marketing and I’m excited and hopeful that it pays off for Mortal Kombat. And full disclosure, I don’t play fighting games, so this is something I am completely uninterested in as a participant, but glad to see it as a gamer. So, hopefully it pays off and is replicated in other games.
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