RPG players don't like paying for their DLC, according to a survey from Obsidian | PCGamesN

RPG players don't like paying for their DLC, according to a survey from Obsidian

Obsidian

In early October, Obsidian published a survey asking for players’ preferences concerning DLC. Today, after 55,000 responses, they published the results of that survey.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of Obsidian's games make up our list of the best RPGs on PC.

Arguably the most emphatic response focused on the quantity and provision of DLC. 53% of those who responded to the survey said their most preferred form of DLC was what Obsidian described as ‘beefy’ - one or two deep DLCs released several months after the main game - although a further 29% said they’d like a mixture of DLCs of different sizes. Expanding on this in a later question, players revealed that their two most popular forms of DLC were expanded single-player campaigns, and post-endgame reactivity - DLCs where the game world changes after you beat the game.

Another important result was that players don’t seem to like paying for their DLC. The average amount those surveyed were willing to pay for the season pass of a hypothetical game costing $59.99 was $17.80, while the average cost of a season pass in real life is $24.59. Players also overwhelmingly suggested they would be more likely to buy a game that would be receiving multiple small DLCs, with 69% responding this way.

The most popular Obsidian DLCs were those belonging to Fallout: New Vegas. That’s not particularly surprising, as it’s not only very popular, but those DLCs are often very cheap on Steam. In second place were the two Pillars of Eternity DLCs, followed closely by the two DLCs for Neverwinter Nights 2.

Other questions focused on factors that might impact the decision to buy a piece of DLC, genre preferences, and the ways in which players bought their DLC. Obsidian haven’t got too much more to say regarding the results, but do say they’ll “be using the data internally to ask some even more in-depth questions.” You can read the full results here.

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QDP2 avatarAnakhoresis avatar
QDP2 Avatar
961
5 Months ago

People's opinion in paper and statistics behind them do vary quite heavily. Take Question 5 from the report; "How important is each of the following factors in your decision to purchase a given DLC?", Over 60% of players state that a "Short time between base game launch and DLC release" is not important to them. But statistics say otherwise. There's a reason large companies plan out small DLC packs so soon after release. It drags people back into the game if they'd turned away for a bit. Notable DLCs get media-space, increasing sales where the game already holds lots of popularity and attention.

Larger companies realised that time-restricted content is an even better way to hook players. There's a reason AC;Origins has the Trials of the Gods so soon after launch. Not only does it give a reason for people to buy the game now, but it gives retention to the playerbase of the game. It makes owners desire to continue playing regularly enough to beat all the time-exclusive bosses, by which point there'll be paid DLC out. If DLC releases for a title you're actively playing, you are far more likely to be willing to shell out cash to enjoy it, rather than wait 6 months for it to turn up on discount.

I reckon (although I can't back the following up with any data or facts) that the DLC complaint is also just as flawed as the DLC-delay question. I mean when you ask the public about there ideals and desires, they'll always tell you that they want a fully-fleshed out game, lots of content to enjoy and expansion passes to be offered free. Being a single-player and RPG-heavy review crowd, I'd suggest there dislike for DLC is based off the genre's almost-enforcement of DLCs over the last few years. Players are split whether or not they want it (good games get arguments over why there isn't DLC, vs poor games get shredded for charging too much in expansion passes). When looking generally people will always say that prices are too high and content is too little, but that's how greed works.

Being in the UK, I personally relate game-value to its hour count. I get that length does by no-way mean that I'll enjoy a video game any more, but it allows me to stop myself from buying games too short to feel satisfied from (if I'll get fewer hours of fun than pounds I spent, I'll generally avoid it until it's on discount within my desires). The other advantage of this viewpoint is it lets me directly compare value of game to DLC. Sure, it may not cost the same to make 20 hours of DLC onto a 20 hour-long game (the former costing more to design the game-engine, sort shaders, lighting, development tools, etc.) but from a player perspective it is literally twice the game. By definition games are designed to be enjoyed, should a developer add 20 hours of content to their title (and reviews read positive) I will feel confident that it will be 20 hours of fun with the level of entertainment being at the least equal to the main game's offering. With this it's easy again to draw a line and say the DLC is worth X much then, and over the last year I've personally found DLCs and Expansion Packs to be fairly good value. Especially when you account for the discount purchasing game + DLC together. There are always outliers to this general opinion, some companies will keep trying to abuse wallets with a quick cash-grab, but in general I'd argue we're in a satisfactory place for content prices at the moment.

EDIT: Oops, I realise now I wrote more than the article itself :P Shout out to those who read this in it's entirety and apologies to any comments that get hidden behind this Thesis of a post. Maybe a suggestion to a future comment update: Hide parts of comments when they're too long (and add a 'Read More' button)? Not exactly important a feature, but could be a good QoL improvement to the website.

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Anakhoresis Avatar
659
5 Months ago

When you say "DLC" are you only including content that adds to gameplay? Because I feel the opposite, that the majority of DLC isn't good, because a lot of it is just skins or minor tweaks or additions and such.

Obviously though it's going to vary by the type of game though.

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QDP2 Avatar
961
5 Months ago

Apologies but I’m not entirely sure if I follow you correctly, I presume when you talk about gameplay-less DLCs you mean patches/updates that add micro-transaction content to the game?

Whilst technically speaking skins or updates are a form of content, I’d argue that these micro-transactions are nothing more than that, places for people to invest into the game. These would include things like Destiny 1 (and 2 I believe)’s Silver, Star Wars: Battlefront 2’s loot boxes, AC Origins shops weapons/armour and League of Legends skins. It’d also argue they’re not DLC, as rarely do you have to download any files to open/use the microtransaction items (instead being locked files already in the game).

I’ve never really worried over these micro-transactions either, as I’ve managed to resist purchasing any packs I regret. There are always prices you look at and question ‘why’, but others who love the game decide they want to invest that much into the title they really enjoy. For purchasable rewards to exist at the higher boundaries makes sense for me, so long as they don’t disadvantage those that don’t pay (something that the community has recently picked up on and started to complain about).

I believed that the community (and gaming companies) had reached a consensus in this decision, and had also adjusted their usage of the term ‘DLC’, reserving it to cover ‘Expansion Packs’ only. Am I wrong in this assumption? Off the top of my head I can’t think of any companies that are happy to name their small updates and skins as DLCs, but I’m all-ears to titles or names.

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Anakhoresis Avatar
659
5 Months ago

I'm just going off that it's all categorised as "DLC" under Steam, and I know I've read news releases that will say "New DLC for [game]" and it's a skin pack (Rocket League is an example of this). I'm not aware that there's been some sort of official categorisation.

As to whether it 'actually' has to be downloaded or not is up to the developer, really, there are plenty of games that download the content regardless of whether you've paid to 'add' it, so I wouldn't think that's a good metric for classification. I believe Forza Horizon 3 does this with its expansions (could be wrong, I'll find out tomorrow), as an example.

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QDP2 Avatar
961
QDP2 replied to Anakhoresis
5 Months ago

Steam often generalize their titles to categorize them together. There's only 1 place for additional transactions in steam games, so you also get micro transaction currency in the DLC tab (see PLEX purchases on EVE Online or Crown purchases in Elder Scrolls Online for examples).

Very valid point about downloads, I'd used a flawed argument myself and completely missed it! Total War series is another example of games that update/download the new content immediately, but then put a paywall behind it so that you can't play 'as' the new content until you pay for it; so I know where you're coming from.

Developers often do this for 2 reasons, 1) it helps increase sales of DLC if(competing against X you keep seeing new content behind the pay wall as you play new race who does Y different to everyone else, of course I want to pay to be able to play as them!), and 2) it avoids multiplayer segregation through patches. If everyone is playing off the same patch in Forza then everyone can race together still. I didn't think the later Forza games had any actual Expansion Passes or sizable DLCs, I thought there were content packs, maybe some skins but almost all (if not every) car was available through in-game currency.

Forza, there's a game that was happy to rip players money from the great grandchildren of their players. With some top-level cars costing hundreds of pounds in micro-transaction currency, it really is a joke. I've never been to much into racing games myself so I've never encountered that kind of price before, but if I were to play I'd rather not pay to unlock the content (even if it was only 10% of its current price) because it removes the feeling of progression. It would be just as bad as paying in Monster Hunter to unlock all of a creatures equipment before you can beat it.

Removes any satisfaction from winning, removing any value (through a sense of achievement) from the purchased car, reducing much of the enjoyment utilizing the car to work towards future vehicles. That's getting back into personal opinion though, so I'll stop there XD

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