Chris Early, Vice President of Ubisoft’s digital publishing team has come forward in an interview with Games Industry on his thoughts on Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’s downloadable content and the rest of the industry’s slow drive to acceptance by the gaming community. Being something that I myself find to be a cheap cash-in for many publishers in the industry, I would somewhat disagree.
Yes, DLC has been accepted on some term or other by all gamers, myself included but what smacks of a hint of arrogance on publisher’s parts is the idea that they have won. DLC will only be fully accepted when the content is worth the money that is being asked for it and a lot of companies still believe that asking high prices for minimal content is still good practice.
“I think there are some models that are accepted now. DLC is pretty much accepted. Season pass is pretty much accepted. Now it’s interesting when you start to think of Season Pass as a Service Pass. For our Season Pass holders, I know we hold events for them specifically, so it’s little bit more than just DLC content. So there’s an evolution going on there.” – Chris Early
What I do agree with, is his personal policy on expanding our collection of much loved games by having to pay a bit more through enhancement of the actual game. Mr. Early believes that content should not be a cheap way to add bits and pieces to the story that should have already been in the game on release day… Which is quite nice, considering Ubisoft’s stance on their special editions of earlier Assassin’s Creed games, where you could only access extra chapters if you were willing to plump out an extra £5 for them.
He also states that season passes are an accepted part of today’s generation of gamer which is more or less true. The Season pass is a way to cut the overall price of most released DLC for a title over a period of time. Think of it as a fully paid pre-purchase of an expansion pack. Still, the issue is that you don’t know what you’re going to get down the line.
Much like pre-ordering games, you don’t have any clue as to what you’ll be receiving. Publishers can have their developers churn out absolute rubbish or overpriced guff that doesn’t have a decent cash to game-time ratio, leaving the customer with a £15-£40 pack of utter tosh.
Luckily, a lot of developers, including Ubisoft have been listening to the complaints and have reconfigured their ideas of what is acceptable to their user base. On the other hand, there are still too many willing to hit gamers with day one DLC, character and costume packs that’s price would make old Ebeneezer Scrooge have an aneurysm (I’m looking at you, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate and your catalogue of wishy-washy, soft-core pornography outfits) and the inability to transfer already paid for packs from one generation to another, *cough* EA *cough* Activision *cough*!
It looks like Ubisoft won’t be getting a golden jobbie award anytime soon but until other publishers start to look at the same models, they might just be getting a gilded turd through their letterbox for gouging and DLC will still not be a fully accepted business plan.