Any gamer can look at the gaming experiences throughout their lifetime and realize one thing: the gaming industry changes faster than perhaps any other creative industry.
When you compare how long we’ve had movies or television, games haven’t been around that long and so it makes sense that we see incredible shifts in game design philosophy in such shorts amounts of time.
Of course, there’s one trend that has continued to give developers trouble when it comes to making games profitable: increased development costs. It’s no secret that games are getting more and more expensive to make.
Even the recent Destiny was rumored to have a budget of around $500 million; an incredible number that’s probably a bit exaggerated, but still mouth-dropping.
With development costs continuing to increase, it’s obvious that a game can’t have the life span that most titles saw the past few years—only a few months, sometimes just one or two.
The following are a few ways that developers are trying to keep their games relevant, and thus profitable:
No new trend is more polarizing in the gaming industry these days than downloadable content (DLC).
With DLC, developers are able to add new levels, often-brief single player campaigns, game modes, skins, etc., to a game after it has been released.
Of course, rarely is DLC content free. Instead, it always comes with a cost that one must pay outside of the $60 you probably paid for the full version.
This gets controversial when developers sell content as DLC that is already finished, or even on the retail disc itself. This means that players are paying for something that could have been a part of the main game they just purchased.
However, most gamers have warmed up to the idea of DLC and love being able to play their games longer than usual due to monthly map packs or an exciting new story campaign, even if they have to pay for it.
Whether you love DLC or hate it, there’s no denying that many games have remained profitable long after their release due to DLC. Rather than straying from this model, we’re more likely to see a day when every game has DLC available to make sure the game keeps making back the thousands of dollars no doubt used to make it in the first place.
In case you haven’t noticed, almost every triple-A title that has been released in the past few years also features a mutliplayer mode. This includes game series like Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect that are known mostly for their deep single player campaigns.
This is because a solo campaign can be incredible, but they eventually come to an end. Multiplayer, however, can be played for as long as there are players willing to check it out.
Just look at Call of Duty, a series that always features excellent single-player campaigns, but remains profitable via its multiplayer mode. Not only do you have players booting up your game for months after the game is released, but they’re very likely to get others to buy the game as well just to play multiplayer together.
You can also be sure that those DLC map packs, which don’t require too many resources to create, help in keeping these kinds of games profitable—thanks to multiplayer modes.
More than just a convenient way of letting players buy a game without having to go to a crowded store, online distribution has allowed developers more flexibility in terms of sales price and demand.
Developers can now have special sales where they mark down the game’s price for a few days, or even mark their game down permanently with ease if they feel it will help sales.
The emergence of online distribution also allows developers to offer a ‘try-and-buy’ model that’s turning games into great successes. Letting players download the game and try it first is a great way to grow interest, just like it is to allow players to check out an early beta version of the game long before it actually releases.
If your game is good enough then you can be sure gamers that play it for free first will be more than happy to toss cash your way for the full experience.