Microsoft says that the addition of paid downloadable content to Xbox 360 games provides significantly more income at retail and also helps keep games in the hands of their original owners.
Speaking at the recent Gamefest event, Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business Manager Kevin Salcedo said games with DLC average $21 million more in retail sales if the additional content arrives within a 30-day "sweet spot," and are also kept by their owners 16 percent longer than titles without DLC. He also pointed out that the sheer size of Xbox Live provides developers with unique opportunities to expand their games with paid DLC. "Right now we have over 12 million users in over 26 countries, with $240 million in transactions revenue so far, with $180 million in the last 12 months alone," he said.
Salcedo advised studios to think about DLC early in the development process to help avoid "hiccups," and also noted the importance of "gracefully" handling missing content. "There should be no dependencies on existing DLC," he said. "Even with episodic content, you should be able to play episode five without episode four present - even if you played episode four before."
Salcedo's comments echo those made recently by Xbox Live Marketplace Group Business Manager Alvin Gendrano, who said downloadable content adds significantly to game unit revenues and "helps defend against the used games market." "The longer players play your game, the lower the chance there is that they will trade them in," he said.
Microsoft appears to be making a big push for the development of DLC on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Speaking alongside Salcedo, Tad Fleshman of the Xbox 360 content management team emphasized the value of DLC and the importance of strategizing its development and release to maximize value. "Let's say that, for your multiplayer title, you want to include six new characters for the game and release them as DLC," he said. "What we need is to get the bits onto the players' boxes so they can see and interact with them but not use them." Making the new content visible is a great way to "inspire" gamers to buy DLC for themselves, he added.