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GR Asks: How do developers decide the size and price of downloadable content?
Answered by: Todd Howard, game director for Fallout 3
“For us, it’s a mix of what excites us, what we can actually accomplish, and what we feel the audience wants. Our strategy with Oblivion was to try lots of things from the very quick and inexpensive, like the Spell Tomes at one dollar, to mid-size things like Knights of the Nine at $10, and then the huge Shivering Isles at $30. It was very experimental for us, both in terms of content and cost. At first we priced it based on what Microsoft was charging for a theme, so if a theme is 150 points, then Horse Armor should be 200 points.”
Above: Oblivion’s first DLC, the infamous horse armor
“Even though it sold like mad, people certainly felt that was too much money and moving forward we priced it based on what we thought it was actually worth, and didn’t worry about established prices. I think there’s precedent now for pricing, but when we started, there wasn’t. For better or worse, we helped set that precedent with Oblivion.”
Above: Recent Fallout 3 DLC “The Pitt” offers about five hours of play
“For Fallout, we decided the sweet spot for us developing and for what the users wanted was to do themed “packs”, not one-off weapons or armors, but a pack that comes as one long adventure that has its own identity, that has some more meat on it. And so far, that model has been very popular both internally and externally.”
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