Have you ever wondered how video game publishers make their money? You may think it’s an obvious question, but actually, things aren’t quite as simple as they used to be….
Traditional Game Sales
Most obviously, there’s the sale of the game itself. A hot new PS4 title can retail for as much as $59.99. That’s obviously not cheap, though if you think of it in terms of the hours of gameplay you typically get out of a modern video game it’s actually a pretty good deal. Just picture the number of hours you might spend on a game in the GTA series, it’ll be around 24 hours, at the very least! That’s like 12 movies at the theatre.
Expansion packs are another source of revenue for game publishers that really got going around the beginning of the new millennium. We can stick with Rockstar as our example since the first expansion pack for a console was released back in 1999 with Grand Theft Auto: London1969 for PlayStation.
The fiddly system of inserting the game disc, ejecting it, inserting the original GTAdisc, ejecting that, and then finally re-inserting the expansion disc before you could play seems really quaint now. This said, the game itself was a definite gem. It featured a great soundtrack, some excellent and amusing characterization and fun gameplay. There’s a fun walk-through here if you haven’t come across the title before. Perhaps most importantly though it set a precedent, showing just what could be achieved with the expansion pack form.
Downloadable content, or DLC, grew out of the expansion pack concept. Really, though, it only became a popular revenue source for the big video game publishers once the internet was well-established and internet access was commonplace. Obviously this sort of content didn’t work well with dial-up-internet connections, slow download speeds and limited data storage: broadband was crucial.
We can move from Rockstar to Rock Bandfor our next example. MTV Games and Harmonix really made impressive use of the downloadable content model with Rock Band. It made perfect sense as approaching it this way allowed for the fact that not all players would have exactly the same taste in music. It also meant that the die-hard fans of the lesser-known bands could be catered for and that nobody had to be limited by a one-size-fits all package of music. Rock Bandofficially features the largest number of downloadable items of any console video game and proved a great source of income for the publishers.
Of course, the downloadable content model isn’t always plain sailing. Over the last couple of years lootpacks have come to be considered a form of gambling by some governments because there is no guarantee as to what exactly the DLC will be in any given purchase, and there is perceived to be risk involved. Now, in certain parts of Europe, as well as China, Japan and Australia, loot packs are carefully regulated.
While this doesn’t make DLC a less successful form of revenue for games publishers, it does mean that they have to be careful. It’s a different situation to say, classic games of chance, such as those you can play via Casino Slots Guru, which has the element of chance in clear view. Everyone knows that there’s risk involved in slot games and that’s what makes them so fun to play. The difference is the transparency of the set-up: nobody is going in unaware of the situation and gamers know that they must play responsibly. With a lot of PC and console games, this just isn’t expected.
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