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Deep dive: The Riftbreaker's Metal Terror DLC

GameDiscoverCo's Simon Carless follows up with EXOR Studios' Pawel Lekki to find out how the add-on did and why pricing was an issue, but only for players from one region

The GameDiscoverCo game discovery newsletter is written by 'how people find your game' expert and GameDiscoverCo founder Simon Carless, and is a regular look at how people discover and buy video games in the 2020s.

So, GameDiscoverCo newsletter subscribers may remember we ran a 2020 interview with Pawel Lekki of EXOR Studios on how The Riftbreaker managed to get 250,000 wishlists up to that point, thanks to a combination of great-looking tech, unique selling proposition, and dogged marketing.

After the game came out in October 2021, we noted to our Plus subscribers: "14,000 CCUs right now for the hack & slash/tower defense hybrid, and 92% Positive rating (855 reviews) bodes well for the medium term. Should sell hundreds of thousands of units over time."

We thought it was time to return to The Riftbreaker, now that it's been out for almost a year. And in soliciting data from Pawel, we concentrated on the fascinating subject of DLC, since EXOR released The Riftbreaker: Metal Terror in July as a $10 add-on to the $30 game.

Firstly, we'd like to confirm that our 'hundreds of thousands of units' estimate at launch was correct. Pawel tells us The Riftbreaker had sold 383,000 copies on Steam at the point Metal Terror launched, and nearly 500,000 units across all platforms. (The game is also available on Xbox/PC Game Pass, where many more have played it.)

But onto Metal Terror, which is a large expansion for the original game, and launched alongside a big free content update for all owners of the game - a smart move. Pawel says "with full voiceovers and additional game endings, Metal Terror added roughly 20-30% new gameplay content compared to the base version of the game." So… a decent size!

What's interesting - and fairly rare - is that Metal Terror's DLC itself got a very good amount of Steam wishlists from its May announce to July release. Look for yourself:

GameDiscoverCo chart on Riftbreaker: Metal Terror DLC

Pawel notes that the DLC had a '100 wishlist a day' baseline, and reached almost 16,000 wishlists by the day before launch. The announcement day and related Steam post was the biggest boost - at nearly 2,000 wishlists.

But as you can see, other announcements - even including a delay when the team realized they "underestimated the number of changes that the expansion introduced into the base game," actually led to increased interest. Pawel says, "The timing for that release window was a lot less favorable due to the Steam Summer Sale running at the beginning of July, but we felt that maintaining quality was more important."

When the DLC came out in July, it launched with a Midweek Madness promotion from Steam and a 30% discount for the base game, meaning that interest spiked. And the DLC alone made it to #9 in the global 'all SKUs' Steam list on the day of release!

GameDiscoverCo chart on Riftbreaker: Metal Terror DLC

So, the Week 1 results for Metal Terror (above) were very strong - with almost 30,000 units sold. And The Riftbreaker: Metal Terror DLC has now sold more than 50,000 units, LTD. Some takeaways we spotted from the DLC launch:

  • Getting people to wishlist DLC on Steam can be difficult. But when they do, conversion rates are off-the-charts good! Pawel notes: "The statistic that surprised us the most is the 7-day conversion rate for the initial batch of [DLC launch] notifications. The base game's 7-day conversion rate for initial wishlist notifications was 18.6%, while the DLC landed at 43.2% 7-day conversion rate." Looks like DLC wishlists are truly a 'reminder to buy'.
  • How about who bought the DLC vs. the base game? "When we compared our regional sales for the DLC against base game sales, the top 10 remained the same… [but] China's sales percentage dropped from 29% to 21%. The pricing of the DLC was relatively the same as for all the other countries (base game $30/¥90 - DLC $10/¥30)."
  • It's not a massive difference, but why was that? Pawel added: "We've noticed that the majority of negative reviews for the DLC were written in Chinese, and a portion of them claimed that they expected all additional content to be free. Or that it was overpriced." So there's perhaps some cultural differences at play here.
  • Did the DLC exceed expectations? Yes: "I expected ~5% of total base game sales within the first month, which would be about 20,000 units, and I expected the DLC to show its full potential during sale events. The results that we achieved were higher than expected. The Metal Terror DLC sold 41,145 units within the first month, compared to 23,024 sales of the base game within the same time period."
  • We've been seeing this overperformance recently with DLC on successful games-as-a-service and continuously updated titles - e.g. the Total War: Warhammer III DLC. And The Riftbreaker has maintained its base game community adeptly. It's had "more than 15 free updates that included new content additions, seasonal events, quality-of-life improvements, balancing changes, and various fixes."

    Thus, instead of DLC as simply a long-term yield improvement for new buyers, which we talked about in our July newsletter on 'paid DLC', it can become a real strengthening point for the whole 'discovery story' of the game - and you can make good money from existing players, too.

    On that subject, Pawel concluded: "I was very surprised about the 'long tail' effect, if we can talk about that at this point. Our 'baseline' revenue for The Riftbreaker increased by ~2x in comparison to baseline revenue before the launch of the DLC, and our concurrent user numbers are also visibly higher, post-update."

    Excellent news all round.

    GameDiscoverCo is an agency based around one simple issue: how do players find, buy and enjoy your premium PC or console game? You can subscribe to GameDiscoverCo Plus to get access to weekly game analysis and detailed charts, plus the newsletter, an info-filled Discord, a data-exportable Steam Hype back-end, two high-quality eBooks, and lots more.

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