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Tomorrow, Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall 2 hits the masses. Critical reception of the game has been positive with near universal praise for Titanfall’s first crack at a story. With the game’s release right around the corner, let’s talk about Titanfall 2’s future.
Respawn Entertainment is adopting a DLC policy we’ve seen in many games over the past year or so. All maps, modes and more will be free. Three days early access to the remastered Angel City map is included as a pre-order bonus, but besides that – post-launch content will be free.
The big shift to free DLC began last year. Halo 5: Guardians and Rainbow Six: Siege both opted for free content. Halo 5 went with microtransactions via REQ packs (could also be earned in-game). Siege went with a slightly more hybrid approach. They kept the season pass in place, but it was only for early (and free) access to operators. Operators could still be earned in-game, it just took a bit of a grind. Maps were free for everyone.
The trend continued with Overwatch. Blizzard followed a similar approach to Halo 5. Free maps supplemented with microtransactions.
But not every developer is quick to adopt the free DLC model with microtransactions making up for the lost revenue. Call of Duty and Battlefield still stick with the season pass model. Gears of War 4 is doing a bit of both. Free DLC maps on rotation, with permanent ownership of the 24+ maps tied to a season pass.
With Titanfall 2 about to release, the idea of DLC and how it’s changing got me thinking. We are in sort of a pivotal moment when it comes to DLC. Many developers/publishers see the strengths to adopting a microtransaction first policy. Others see nothing wrong with business as usual. And some are doing both. Why the vastly different approaches?
It depends on where the game/franchise is at. Games with large established fanbases (Call of Duty, Battlefield) aren’t changing anything. But new games or established fanbases trying to grow (Overwatch, Halo 5: Guardians, Rainbow Six: Siege and Titanfall 2), are choosing the free DLC route. Developers will say it’s to avoid fracturing the community. And that’s true. But, free DLC is also a major selling point.
When I heard Halo 5 and Rainbow Six Siege were going with free DLC, I perked up. It was nice going into both games knowing they wouldn’t eventually cost $100+ to get the full experience. I’m sure many of you felt the same way. It helps both games were fantastic entries into their respective franchises, but opting for free DLC was a smart decision. Both from a developer standpoint, and a publisher.
Does this trend continue with games that were successful with this approach? Take Halo 5: Guardians. Sales are strong, and so is the community. Is it Halo 3 player population days? Nope, but 343 Industries is heading in the right direction. Same with Rainbow Six: Siege.
Do the next entries into both franchises continue with their free DLC approach? Or, do the publishers get a little greedy with a newly established player base? If they’re smart, they keep doing what they’re doing.
But AAA games will only get more expensive to make. Maybe free DLC will continue to be the approach many developers take. Publishers see there are other ways to make money besides microtransactions and DLC.
Pay extra to play a little earlier. We saw it with Forza Horizon 3, Gears of War 4 and Battlefield. It’s not just limited to multiplayer games either. While you don’t have to pay extra, pre-ordering Dishonored 2 gets you the game one day earlier.
And the system worked big time. Hundreds of thousands of people were playing Battlefield 1 days before its “official” release. I’m sure Microsoft saw similar success with Gears of War 4 and Forza Horizon 3.
Will the trend towards free DLC continue? I think it will. But publishers will always find a way to make more money. You can count on that. Whether it’s with more aggressive microtransactions or an extra few bucks to play a couple of days early.
Maybe the question shouldn’t be will the free DLC trend continue. But what other ways will publishers find to milk money from consumers?