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Gearbox: Developers can take risks with DLC

President of Borderlands studio talks up opportunity for creators and convenience for gamers

The president and CEO of Borderlands developer Gearbox Software, Randy Pitchford, has told GamesIndustry.biz that in creating the follow-up content for last year's hit "shooter-looter" the team was able to take risks that simply weren't possible when designing the original game.

Speaking ahead of his session at the DICE Summit, taking place in Las Vegas next week, Pitchford praised the opportunities that downloadable content brings to developers, while also giving gamers a convenient way to get more of what they want.

"It's entertainment," he said of the DLC business model. "As gamers, we want great entertainment, and we're really happy to spend money on the interactive entertainment that we love. The DLC option is about a convenient way to offer value to gamers that want it, and it's neat for gamers because if I love something, I'm excited when DLC happens. I can click a button, and a few minutes later it's there - I didn't have to drive to the store, it's not very expensive. It's a nice incremental add-on to something I already understand and trust, and had a great time with.

"So it's nice for gamers, but it's great for developers too - it's something we can explore, and take risks with. There are things we've done in our DLCs that aren't the kinds of things we'd risk in the core game - because you know you're offering it to the audience that's the most dedicated and loyal."

He also outlined the different economics when projecting sales results for downloadable content, and how there's an entirely different level of pressure when compared to the original game.

"You also know that if we sell 400,000 units of the DLC we're really happy, as opposed to if we don't sell 2 million units of this game we're not going to make our money back," he explained, "so the economics of the relationship between the creator and the customer change.

"It gives us the opportunity to explore and take some risks, and it gives the customer a really convenient opportunity to get more of what they love."

Borderlands was released to critical acclaim and sales success late last year, and two DLC expansion packs have already been made available, with a third recently announced.

The full interview with Pitchford, in which he also talks about his love for the DICE Summit and the challenge ahead for independent developers, is available now.

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Latest comments (3)

Stephen McCarthy Studying Games Technology, Kingston University6 years ago
I find that most DLC are parts that are cut from the game or It something useful that the game need but they make you pay for it. Or the DLC is not very good and that it over too fast.
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Benjamin Dixon Studying Computer Games Design and Programming, Staffordshire University6 years ago
I have to agree with you Stephen unfortunately but a lot of people are probably still going to be buying it which will just provide an adequate business model for more of it. I personally haven't been too quick to uptake digital distribution and the DLC rush, but the more this happens, the more it seems like it is set in stone so I guess I will just have to start adopting it as the future of the industry
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Enok Dencker Game Community Leader & Game Guides Author 6 years ago
The way I see practical use for DLC, is to extend the player experience further than the original game content. But when DLC is availible on the disc, or like The Saboteurs day 1 DLC. It looses it's purpose and are damaging DLC as a product of it's own (market value).

If consumers expect DLC to be included in the original price/packet they will demand more and more DLC to be added at no cost for the consumer. And it will lower gamers expectation of the game having a significant lifespan (moves more quickly to new games, contra what DLC is suppose to do for a games lifespan/loyalty). So basically in an effort to earn more from a title quickly, the developers are in some cases damaging the market in the long run. I believe long term profit, will open the consumers wallet more easily and recruit more customers to the market.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Enok Dencker on 19th February 2010 11:05am

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