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The Results of our Recent DLC Survey

Posted by emoney , 09 November 2017 · 53665 views

survey dlc fallout pillars of eternity demographics charts lord bolingbroke polo 2018 marketing

Hey everyone! Your friendly, neighborhood, marketing drone here with what I hope will be an eye-opening insight into gamers' thoughts on DLC. First off: a big thank you to everyone who participated in our survey. Hearing your thoughts helps us understand your opinions better, and make better games.

 

Background

 

For those who don't know, on October 4, 2017, we published a survey, asking some key questions about players' preferences regarding DLC, and a bit about their backgrounds, as well. As anyone at Obsidian will tell you, I am big on data, and have been pushing for stuff like this for a while. So, hey, thanks for making me look good with the absolutely huge response we got to the survey:

 

Forecast Response: ~12,000 - 18,000
Actual Responses: 55,035
Sources: Kickstarter/Fig Backers, Obsidian Forums, Obsidian Newsletter, Reddit (big thanks to the awesome humans at /r/projecteternity and /r/Fallout!), Twitter, Facebook, and from many of our wonderful developer and publisher colleagues.

 

The survey ran until October 20, 2017, and we thank everyone who participated and all our partners who assisted us! For those who missed it, here is the amazing survey background art we used, as created by our Community Manager, Aarik Dorobiala (presented here in 1080p for those who want to use it as a wallpaper!):

 

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A Note on Sampling Methodology

 

The statisticians among you will have noticed that our data-gathering methodology was not blind, and that's an important thing to call out. Because we didn't use a random sample of our customers or backers, but rather went to specific areas and allowed those populations to self select, we know that some of the data in this survey will be skewed toward those specific population groups.

 

For our purposes, however, that's fine. We are interested in engaged gamers who are likely to be interested in our DLC (and DLC secularly), and we were willing to sacrifice some methodological precision if it meant driving more participation in the survey for this go-round. The fact that the survey got more popular than we ever imagined is a bonus, but it also means we need to take these results as directional, rather than strictly determinative, since the populations who responded to the survey may or may not be representative of the total population of RPG fans out there.

 

--

 

Section 1: Demographics

 

While the first section of the survey asked about DLC preferences and the second, optional, section asked about demographics, I nevertheless want to show the demographic results first, so readers can understand a bit about who answered these questions before they see how the questions were answered.

 

The demographics section was 100% optional, but it's not clear that everyone understood that. Although we did have some folks opt out of certain questions by skipping them, we may have had significantly more if we added an affirmative opt-out answer choice to every question, which is what we will do in the future. This was my mistake, but one of the things to think about when you review these results is that I treated this piece at least in part as a "meta-survey." That is, I wanted to test certain questions and methodologies as much as gather data itself, so I can improve our data gathering and survey user-friendliness going forward.

 

Please note that we have omitted a question for the sake of consumer privacy.

 

Question 1: Age

 

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We were a bit surprised to see how many of the survey respondents were teenagers, but otherwise, our age demographic for this survey tracks pretty well with what we expect for the "typical" gamer: about 3/4s are between the ages of 20 and 34.

 

Question 2: Gender

 

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While we expected that we would get a majority male response, we did not expect it to be this skewed. Only about 2% of people skipped the question, though we were asked why we did not have a third, or opt-out gender option, such as "Prefer not to answer." That was an oversight -- I simply believed people would opt out by skipping the question.

 

Question 3: Country of Residence

 

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We were very gratified to have people from nearly every country in the world reply to our survey -- despite the fact that it was only available in English. While the numbers aren't clear on the chart, Germany featured the most respondents from a non-Anglophone nation (2,431), which was almost as many as Australia!

 

Since the map doesn't fully show everything due to size constraints, here's the top 10 countries by number of respondents:

  • USA - 25,089
  • UK - 3,939
  • Canada - 3,909
  • Australia - 2,471
  • Germany - 2,431
  • Poland - 1,651
  • Sweden - 1,412
  • France - 1,132
  • Russia - 1,070
  • Finland - 923

 

Question 4: - OMITTED

 

Question 5: Preferred Gaming Platform

 

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Windows PC was by far the most commonly used gaming platform for respondents, followed distantly by Android Phone, PlayStation 4, and Portable Consoles, in that order. No other system was a major occupier of time for most of our respondents. One thing that was interesting to see was just how much more popular Android was than iOS among our respondent group.

 

One note: our survey was quite popular on the subreddit for PlayStation 4 (/r/PS4), but the equivalent Xbox One subreddit (/r/XboxOne) does not allow surveys, which may have biased console usership results.

 

Question 6: Preferred Purchase Platform

 

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Tracking with the use of Windows as the primary gaming platform, it's no surprise that Steam is by far the dominant platform for respondents' game purchasing decisions. Of considerable interest, however, is how high up on the list official console digital marketplaces ranked. This suggests a shift among leading-edge (or "core") gamers toward digital purchasing on console, away from brick-and-mortar or other physical disc distribution.

 

NB: GOG.com's abbreviation should be rendered GOG, not GoG, apologies for the typo in my chart!

 

--

 

Section 2: DLC Questions

 

This segment consisted of mandatory questions, and just about everyone completed it -- we had less than a 1% abandonment rate on the survey. While there were ten questions asked, we omit the tenth, as it involves internal Obsidian benchmarking, and was originally geared toward a specific consumer-targeted audience, not the much larger audience we ended up getting, so the results aren't super valuable.

 

Question 1: Owned Obsidian DLCs

 

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It's no surprise that Fallout: New Vegas, still one of our most popular games, remains the leader in terms of DLC ownership. We also had a significant number of respondents who owned DLC in Pillars of Eternity and, surprisingly, Neverwinter Nights 2, a game that's now more than ten years old. Only about one in ten respondents did not purchase any Obsidian DLC at all.

 

Question 2: Acquisition Method

 

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This question got a lot of feedback from the community, and I'll will revise it if we ask a similar question in the future. The feedback largely centered on a few issues:

  • A large number of respondents commented that, while they would not commonly refund/return the base game in order to acquire the Game of the Year (GotY) Edition, they would refrain from purchasing a game at all once DLC of any kind is announced until a GotY or other complete edition is released.
  • Many people felt that the question insufficiently described why or how the DLC was attractive and therefore made it difficult for them to assess the value of a season pass or DLC.
  • Everyone loves sales, so that answer choice could have been folded into the others as a value-add.
Question 3: Preferred DLC Features

 

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I color-coded these by type so it would be easier for everyone to parse respondents' preferences. Overwhelmingly, respondents want more game content -- that is, they want the game itself to be bigger, deeper, longer. They want to be able to come back to it, or continue on with it. However, there was also a significant number of respondents who were looking for expanded or additional game systems, such as multiplayer (co-operative) or replayable modes such as roguelikes.

 

Anything tagged as "competitive" or "PvP" was not considered attractive, however.

 

Question 4: Quantity of DLC

 

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Respondents were very clear here, and their responses track with the bias toward content-based features in the previous question: people want bigger, deeper DLC for their money, not small stuff.

 

Question 5: Influential Factors

 

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The most influential factor for the majority of respondents in informing their decision to purchase DLC is price. This could imply that respondents feel that DLC is generally overpriced, that DLC generally doesn't strike them as a good value at MSRP, or simply that gamers are cost conscious.

 

Among the other factors, word-of-mouth factors such as a friend's recommendation or score from bona fide other gamers were the most important in influencing buying decisions. Interestingly, most respondents felt that time between base game launch and DLC launch was not a major factor in their decision to purchase -- this could be interpreted in two ways: either respondents don't mind waiting for deep content, or they feel that they won't purchase new DLC no matter what, until it's on sale.

 

Questions 6 & 7: Price Calibration

 

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These two questions were designed to work in tandem. I was looking to anchor respondents at a $45-dollar base price for a game, and then see if raising that base price in a subsequent, identical question, caused them to re-value an associated season pass. Given the structure of the questions and the expected effect of the anchoring, the 7.8% difference in average expected price can be considered not statistically significant. Basically, the base price of a game, alone, was not enough to make gamers think differently about the value of the season pass (and, by extension, other associated content).

 

We got a lot of feedback to these questions that price alone was not sufficient for them to evaluate the value of a season pass, and, of course, that's true. To give some insight into what I was trying to accomplish with these two questions: I was interested in whether putting a change in base price in front of a consumer's face would cause a cognitive bias that might affect his price tolerance for ancillary purchases. In other words, does price alone have a direct relationship to perception of value or further willingness to engage with a product?

 

Looking back on this, was this question the best way to evaluate this heuristic? Probably not. I've had some suggestions for improvements that I intend to incorporate into future question series, and I'm going back to my behavioral economics texts to deepen my own understand -- but I still think the results are interesting, nevertheless.

 

One other note: while our respondents put the desired price of season passes at around $17, in reality, RPG gamers pay about $25 for them (when purchased as a separate product, not as part of a Deluxe Edition or GotY) on average, according to industry sales data.

 

Question 8: Free DLC

 

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Pretty clear message here: people like free DLC. 4% of respondents, however, clearly feel that DLC is not good, in any form.

 

Question 9: Genre Preference

 

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Everyone hated this question's answer choice structure. I tried something newfangled by allowing people to drag and drop their answer choices in a stack-ranked list, and we got a ton of feedback on it.

 

First, it apparently didn't work on mobile -- sorry about that, I should've tested it better. Second, a lot of people commented that they felt pretty much equally weak on a variety of genres but felt they were forced to rank them better than each other, anyway. This is interesting, though, because despite a lot of these comments, Sports and Casual emerged as the clear losers. You'd think that if, say, the bottom five or six genres (which is what most people said they didn't care about) were equally lousy to people, you'd have a fairly even distribution, since the order of the answer choices was randomized.

 

So, while our respondents didn't like the way this question was structured (and I'll kill it for next time), it is interesting to see that it forced the truth out -- sports and casual games are the least liked. Therefore Obsidian is killing our latest secret project: Lord Bolingbroke Polo 2018.

 

Just kidding, we wouldn't do a casual game.

 

--

 

Conclusions

 

All in all, lots of great takeaways here, and we'll be using the data internally to ask some even more in depth questions. For example: do people who own Pillars of Eternity DLC also own Tyranny DLC? Do Europeans have different DLC preferences from North Americans? Why do RPG fans hate sports games?

 

There's so much to be learned here, and we are so grateful to our fans for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. We will continue to get better at making surveys, and we hope you will continue to engage with us and let us know how you feel, so that we can try to make the best games possible for you. We know we can't please everybody all the time (this survey proves that), and we're not trying to do that, but if this kind of research can help us get better at making the games we love to make, then our marketing team is doing its job.



  • Pidesco, Leferd, Achilles and 21 others like this



Thank you for posting this! Transparency and openess is much appreciated)
 

Second, a lot of people commented that they felt pretty much equally weak on a variety of genres but felt they were forced to rank them better than each other, anyway. This is interesting, though, because despite a lot of these comments, Sports and Casual emerged as the clear losers. You'd think that if, say, the bottom five or six genres (which is what most people said they didn't care about) were equally lousy to people, you'd have a fairly even distribution, since the order of the answer choices was randomized.

Can relate to those commenters. And yeah, this is puzzling indeed.

P.S. Amazed how few respondents there are from EU compared to US.
    • Tuckey and WOLFGEIST like this

Just curious but does Australia include New Zealand respondents?

 

We can get a little miffy about that i mean they stole Phar Lap and Pavlova and don't get me started on Crowded House. ;)

Just curious but does Australia include New Zealand respondents?

 

We can get a little miffy about that i mean they stole Phar Lap and Pavlova and don't get me started on Crowded House. ;)

Nope! New Zealand had 413 respondents and is a totally different place from Australia (and Old Zealand). You may find this place funny (or infuriating): https://www.reddit.c.../MapsWithoutNZ/

    • Tuckey and Avonus like this

Nice! Sweden represent! Not much of surprises, though.

B E E F Y

 

always and forever!

 

I'm happy to see a lot of interest in post-game content. It's neat when games allow you to tour back around the world you just saved and to see the how places and people are doing as a result of the player's efforts. As sort of an optional epilogue for the player.

 

I'm curious what all this "rogue-lite" concept entails.

Good stuff! It kind of makes sense that Casual games are amongst the lowest rated. There's nothing wrong with casual games, but it'd be a bit paradoxical if millions of people were like "I mean... I just kind of play these games when I'm bored or just want something simple and kind of fun to do, BUT ALSO I DEMAND THAT ALL GAMES BE CASUAL GAMES, AND I WILL PLAY THEM LIKE HARDCORE WOW-RAIDERS!" Haha. I think everyone "likes" casual games, in that, if you're stuck in an airport terminal, you'd probably rather someone hand you a phone with Candy Crush on it or play Fallout Shelter than do nothing (obviously you could read a book or something, but I'm just talking about options with your free time that involve playing games.) But it's not really going to dominate the gaming market or anything.

 

Also, though, you said "we know we can't please everybody," and while that's true, it's also less true than you might think. The DLC aspects are a good example. There's probably an inherent reason why people tend to favor the big, deep DLCs and expansions. While some people might really like small DLCs, too, the biggest reason for people to dislike the larger ones is simply wait time. So, if you make people wait, you're making them unhappy, but it's still VERY likely that you're going to inevitably make them super happy when the expansion, etc., actually releases. Hardly anyone's going to say "I loved this big, full game so much that I REALLY wish this big, full expansion had just been a bunch of really tiny things, specifically." Especially when it's optional. So, as with most things, while you might have group A favoring thing X, and group B favoring thing Y, chances are, if you do it right, and both groups appreciate the general goal you're going for (they're not purist racing game fans complaining about your medieval fantasy RPG, for example), then you ARE going to please everyone. Some people just end up more pleased.

 

The biggest factors are the functional ones. There's "I feel this UI is clunky and think it could've been a different way that I prefer," and then there's "this task is actually difficult and bothersome to do in this UI design, and even the people who like this UI layout agree that this part of it could've been designed better." The subjective bit's going to get a lot more easily overlooked (and people are still going to enjoy the game, quite probably), than the objective part.

 

So just keep that in mind, and keep at it! You guys have such a great attitude about game design! Thanks for doing so!

    • MaxQuest likes this
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ilorin_lorati
Nov 09 2017 03:19 PM
Pretty clear message here: people like free DLC. 4% of respondents, however, clearly feel that DLC is not good, in any form.

 

I feel like this might jump to a conclusion a bit too quickly; is it really saying that any form of DLC is bad, or that there is a perception for them that they would simply rather wait for a "completed release", even disregarding possible future paid DLC, before purchasing?  Free DLC is much easier for them to look at and say "this really should be part of the game" than even Paid DLC; after all, why would it be free if it was intended to be segmented out?

 

This, I feel, is a fairly significant difference from "DLC not being good in any form".  I know that, for example, I will avoid purchasing a game that I know will have multiple free DLCs in the near future, instead preferring to wait for the game to be out before making that jump.  The most high profile example of this for me was with The Witcher 3, which had two months worth of weekly content - minor content, but still content - added to the game post release.  Only once that bout of additional "DLC" was out did I consider purchasing the game.

 

The same does not apply to paid DLC for me; I have no intrinsic qualms about buying a game with a season pass, and even the pass itself, if I feel like I will get the quality I wish out of it.

The results are confusing without real numbers published. For example, how many people (who took the survey) play your games on Linux? How many buy on GOG? I couldn't really understand that from the above. Can you please publish complete results?

    • tmp123123 likes this
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ziddersroofurry
Nov 09 2017 06:54 PM

I dislike DLC. I'd rather get a bigger, deeper game that stands on its own. That said if It's offered I prefer large well developed DLC. A great example of this is Old World Blues. In fact I found every New Vegas DLC worth it though I still would rather see less DLC with more content. 

 

An example of terrible DLC is the DLC for Gearbox's Borderlands 2. It's a ton of little dinky mostly worthless items that if offered for a fair price all in one would have been OK but with each piece being a couple bucks it makes it a ripoff. 

 

Btw there really should have been the option to pick 'non-binary' when selecting gender along with 'prefer not to answer'. 

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ziddersroofurry
Nov 09 2017 06:56 PM

The results are somewhat confusing without real numbers published. For example, how many people (who took the survey) play your games on Linux? How many buy on GOG? I couldn't really understand that from the above. Can you please publish complete results?

Those weren't included because those weren't questions they asked. They were asking people about DLC not about what systems they played their games on or what publisher they bought them from. 

Good post.

Just two things: first, and it's not a really important issue, but how come you have 0 Italians showing in your surveys (even some African countries did better) when I know I did the survey and also some other friends of mine (all Italians) did?

 

Second: about the DLC/expansion question I think you should've asked your fans how they feel about mid-game content and post-game content. I, for one, prefer Mask of the Betrayer-style expansions (not only because it was a masterpiece) rather than White March or New Vegas DLCs which force you to reload an old save or start a new game and play for several hours before you can enjoy the new content. I think it would've been useful to know this piece of information too.

nothing new here on the preferances: rpg, pc, 50$-100$ for the package, 2 big expansions wins vs dlc, gameplay over graphics etc.... the mistery is why people / studios forget this: beamdog's baldur's 2 redone will sell more thant tiranny BECAUSE IT'S MORE GAME THERE.

 

by the way witcher 3 dlc is fine - in a game with 50 sets of armour a new for free is cool, in ubi games having 10 pieces, with 50 sold as dlc is not, it's called cut content

 

torment's failure was not about the too much text - fargo complains, it was the lack of game, zeit's bloom wasn't enough...and they also abandoned real time with pause system + it was way to linear-  felt like a shooter

 

good point my italian cousin: a big dlc/expansion moves the story forward, people don't generally mind the wait for it, but they do being forced to replay the whole story to see ... bastard's wound. yes the "casual" rpg fan has a good memory.

 

so stick to baldur's gate model, update graphics were feasible, don't kill yourselves over voice acting, it's about world, story and characters and you'll be fine.

 

poe as goty is excellent, if poe 2 is bigger i'll be happy

tiranny was good it just needed a kickstarter - pity you haven't tried, it felt like an expansion to a game

 

poe 3 gets a kingdom? just came from patfinder!

Would be nice to see actual data of responces because you removed few answers from this post.

Good post.

Just two things: first, and it's not a really important issue, but how come you have 0 Italians showing in your surveys (even some African countries did better) when I know I did the survey and also some other friends of mine (all Italians) did?

 

I have no idea why Italy didn't show up in the map -- that's so weird, I didn't notice! Italy had 530 participants, 0 from San Marino and Vatican City, though. Apologies for that!

    • Revan91 likes this

Damn you are not releasing Lord Bolingbroke Polo 2018?

I'll never ever buy another Obsidian game, ever.

 

Edit: Ever.

 

The results are somewhat confusing without real numbers published. For example, how many people (who took the survey) play your games on Linux? How many buy on GOG? I couldn't really understand that from the above. Can you please publish complete results?

Those weren't included because those weren't questions they asked. They were asking people about DLC not about what systems they played their games on or what publisher they bought them from. 

 

 

Not sure what you mean. Did you miss the preferred gaming platform (OS) and preferred purchasing platform (store)? I don't quite understand why they can't publish all numbers for that.

    • tmp123123 likes this
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Smell of the Obsidian Odor
Nov 10 2017 12:25 PM

Now that you know that people are unsurprisingly fans of RPG's.  You should break down what type of RPG's people prefer.  They can be anything from the Obsidian standard CRPG to JRPG, to Diablo-style ARPG, to open world RPG's like New Vegas, to hardcore Soulsborne RPG's, to ???.

To your end questions: I have kickstarted PoE (signed CE lvl so with DLCs). I bought Tyranny but I hated it was not on kickstarter... I gladly bought all dlcs for it though. 

 

Sport games I liked when I was much younger (decathlon on C64...), but now at 44 I just like cRPGs...

 

Thanks for making them!

 

Good post.

Just two things: first, and it's not a really important issue, but how come you have 0 Italians showing in your surveys (even some African countries did better) when I know I did the survey and also some other friends of mine (all Italians) did?

 

I have no idea why Italy didn't show up in the map -- that's so weird, I didn't notice! Italy had 530 participants, 0 from San Marino and Vatican City, though. Apologies for that!

 

Also nothing in Portugal.

 

 

Good post.

Just two things: first, and it's not a really important issue, but how come you have 0 Italians showing in your surveys (even some African countries did better) when I know I did the survey and also some other friends of mine (all Italians) did?

 

I have no idea why Italy didn't show up in the map -- that's so weird, I didn't notice! Italy had 530 participants, 0 from San Marino and Vatican City, though. Apologies for that!

 

Also nothing in Portugal.

 

211 respondents from Portugal. Portugal is shaded on the map, just the number wouldn't fit. :-)

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