The Timeliness of DLC
by ZackC on October 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM EST

The Timeliness of DLC

When a big AAA video game comes out, developers frequently have ideas for what they want to do with Downloadable Content. This means that when the game releases, developers are already working on creating some Downloadable Content, but the question of when the DLC will be released to the public has yet to be answered. Some games will wait a while before they release Downloadable Content, while others will push the DLC out within weeks of the game being launched. Developers have to balance quality with how quickly they want to release new content. The developer also has to think about the public’s perception of DLC that comes out too quickly. Developers walk a fine line when it comes to DLC.


A lot of games that come to the market will eventually have DLC attached to them. Big games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 or Need for Speed: Most Wanted will almost certainly have Downloadable Content planned before the launch of the game. This produces the question of when the DLC is going to be done. Often, game developers don’t finish a game until the deadline hits; this is because they always want to add more to the game.

Since developers will keep going until they are told to finish, a deadline must be set. This means that it will come down to perception. If DLC comes out too quickly, people will question why the DLC was not in the retail release of the game and whether the DLC is simply a money grab by developers. While the Downloadable Content may have taken a little bit to finish, if there is not enough lag time between game release and DLC release, people will complain that the DLC should have been included in the base game.


So, what is the optimal time to release DLC? A month after the release of the game is a good amount of time for DLC to be released. One month gives people enough time to play through the game to completion and possibly move on to a new game, but the game will still be fresh in gamers’ minds when the DLC comes out. Anything longer than three months is risky because some may not even bother picking up the DLC because they will already be invested in something else. After the first round of DLC, a second DLC could be released in another month. This allows people to play through the first DLC and then get drawn back into the game by the second one.

DLC should be released at least a month after the game is released so that people don’t think they are being nickel and dimed. Perception is always important because if a game gains the wrath of its audience, they may not come back for a sequel, or they may not buy the DLC, both of which are important in the longevity of a developer.

Edited by Zachary Bridge


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