The recent trend of studios and publishers electing not to make available all of the downloadable content that they are releasing on console platforms will continue. That is the word we are hearing from industry insiders that tell us that the PC gaming market space continues to be very challenging for publishers.
Most recently, Electronic Arts announced that DLC content for Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 would not be arriving for the PC versions of these titles. While it might sound as if we are picking on EA, they are not the only publisher that has canceled DLC content for PC releases that were also released on consoles as well.
The reason why this is happening is complicated and is dependent on the actual publisher as well as the studio. While in many cases, the company line seems to be that they don’t have the resources available to get this done because they are engaged in working on other things, this seems to only be a half truth based on discussions we have had with those in the industry.
Apparently, there are multiple reasons that the downloadable content is canceled, but it does seem that potential sales are the biggest factor. While we all know that the console market is much larger than the PC gaming market, it does seem that the potential return on investment is so much less that it just does not make sense to convert it to the PC platform for sale.
Making the content available for sale is also the reason in many cases we see publishers that do release additional content for the PC platform electing to bundle it for free in a patch release, rather than attempting to sell it in many cases. As one studio insider told me; “By the time you spend the time to set it up for sale and you look at the potential sales numbers for the DLC content on the PC when compared to the actual number of copies that you sold on the PC platform, the numbers just don’t make a lot of sense to release it for sale.”
Setting it up for sale is another problem altogether because unlike the console platforms which have their own dedicated store, the PC platform does not have a single point where all versions of the DLC can be downloaded. While you could offer it on Steam or Game for Windows, for example, that only services those digital releases of the software; and for example, if you happen to own the boxed copy of the title, the DLC content from those sources most times will not work with the boxed version of the title.
While Microsoft has again launched a new initiative to promote gaming on the Windows 7 platform, it remains to be seen if it will attract more gamers, many of which have left the PC for the console systems due to the fact of a wider number of gaming offerings for the console platforms over the PC. While we suspect that you might see a bit of a trend in more PC gaming releases, don’t expect to get all of the DLC content that you see on the console releases. It simply just does not make a lot of sense for publishers to spend the money to offer it when PC title sales only represents such a small portion of the total sales of a multiplatform release.