Ubisoft says there wlll be "no more DLC that you have to buy if you want to have the full experience" when it comes to the support of its games moving forward.
Downloadable content, commonly called DLC, has become a regular part of the games industry, and can range from both good to bad. At the very best, DLC allows publishers and developers to continue to support a game and provide quality content to extend the life of an experience to players. But at the worst, DLC can feel like a blatant cash grab, offering very little in exchange for gamers’ hard earned cash.
Big developer Ubisoft has announced a major change to how it will handle DLC in the future, saying that it will offer all DLC that is key to a game’s experience for free. In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Ubisoft’s VP of live operations Anne Blondel-Jouin said the publisher will no longer offer DLC that gamers have to buy for the full experience:
"Monetization is something we have to be very careful about, and my team is in charge of that and making sure we find a right balance. The key is if it's not adding something on-top of the actual experience of the game, then it is no good. Because you'll be asking for more money for the wrong reasons. Also, if the content is compulsory for the gamers, it's no good as well. It is a way to deliver more fun to gamers, but they have a choice to go for that extra fun or not. It wouldn't work if it was about making it compulsory for gamers. No more DLC that you have to buy if you want to have the full experience. You have the game, and if you want to expand it - depending on how you want to experience the game - you're free to buy it, or not."
Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six: Siege has taken this approach to DLC, offering all maps and updates for free, while monetizing cosmetic and more optional items. Blondel-Jouin says the key is to allow all players to “have the exact same experience” whether they opt into extra purchases or not, calling this kind of system “more fair for Ubisoft and the gamers.”
Ubisoft’s goal is to extend the life of their games, keeping players engaged for five or more years as they continue to support their games with free updates. This could potentially change how Ubisoft handles games like The Division, which launched with a $100 Gold Edition that included the first year of DLC. But those who only bought the base game would need to separately buy the Season Pass or DLC if they wanted to continue to expand their Division experience.
Ubisoft has been notorious for trying new ways to get additional transactions out of gamers, but thus far those efforts have proven very divisive. DLC isn't going anywhere, but many developers have started to understand that if they want to charge extra they have to make those options truly optional. Closing players off from content never goes over well, no matter how many developers do it. And if nothing else, the developers have to justify the content if they are going to charge for it. In essence, make the content engaging and free and then gamers might be more likely to invest in cosmetics.
Other studios and publishers also seem to be moving into this model with their games including EA and Respawn Entertainment saying all of Titanfall 2’s DLC being completely free, and Microsoft and 343 Industries continues to support Halo 5 more than a year after launch with free updates and content drops.