It 'Makes Content Available On Their Time'
Bioware's director of online development Fernando Melo believes that launch DLC can be an important part of a game's growth, and that fans want it more than they'd have you believe. However, the key is apparently to foster open and honest communication with the fanbase to ensure that they don't say "you're lying to us."
"Contrary to what you might hear on the internet, fans do want more content. They tend to say, ‘I want it now,” Melo said during a GDC panel attended by IGN. "The problem with day one content and the challenge around it is that the right answer for now is different for every player. There is no single right time, there is no single now. It’s subjective, and it’s unique to every player.”
Melo posits that launch DLC "just means you're making [content] available on their time. They choose when to pick that up. It's not based on us. It's not based on some first-party release schedule. It's there, if they want it they can pick it up day one. If they don't, they can wait until they've finished their game." Essentially, consumers can decide whether to get involved on release, to wait or simply to ignore it - especially since a whopping proportion of players never even reach the end of a game.
The online development director also clarified that launch DLC is usually developed after a game goes into certification, i.e. that the game is shipped off in a finished state to platform holders a couple of months before release, thus freeing up the developers to work on entirely new content. Going forward, Melo believes that only a "culture" of communication with the fanbase will help to shatter some of the myths surrounding the controversial content delivery model.
"If you have a consistent culture of how you’re communicating to your fans, that will increase the number of people that are more likely to believe in your explanation. You’re not lying to them, but they will take whatever you’re saying as like, ‘you’re lying to us.’ That will always be there. The only way that that’s going to go away is you fast forward a few more years, where this is just normal."
“Every game is digital from day one. Every game is an ongoing service, almost like an MMO, where on any given day new content shows up. Maybe that’s part of the base package, and maybe it’s a premium feature.”
Many fans took umbrage with Mass Effect 3's Prothean character DLC, not to mention Street Fighter X Tekken's (reprehensible) on-disc characters. We take an incredibly dim view of on-disc DLC, but the day-one debate is likely to rage on. What's your take on it?