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The Results of our Recent DLC Survey

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!):

 

obsidian-games.jpg

 

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

 

dlc-survey-slide-01.jpg

 

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

 

dlc-survey-slide-02.jpg
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

 

dlc-survey-slide-03.jpg

 

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:

  1. USA - 25,089
  2. UK - 3,939
  3. Canada - 3,909
  4. Australia - 2,471
  5. Germany - 2,431
  6. Poland - 1,651
  7. Sweden - 1,412
  8. France - 1,132
  9. Russia - 1,070
  10. Finland - 923

 

Question 4: - OMITTED

 

Question 5: Preferred Gaming Platform

 

dlc-survey-slide-04.jpg

 

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

 

dlc-survey-slide-05.jpg

 

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

 

dlc-survey-slide-06.jpg

 

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

 

dlc-survey-slide-07.jpg

 

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

 


dlc-survey-slide-08.jpg
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

 

dlc-survey-slide-09.jpg

 

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

 

dlc-survey-slide-10.jpg

 

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

 

dlc-survey-slide-11.jpg

 

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

 

dlc-survey-slide-12.jpg

 

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

 

dlc-survey-slide-13.jpg

 

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.

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Your response on gender isn't skewed, men are the audience for the vast majority of gaming.  A lot of the "women make up 50%" only makes sense when you add in casual/facebook/etc games.  Poll that and you'll see a different response.  ex: Fallout shelter/candycrush/etc you're going to see 40-60% female responses. 

 

What that means is, you make the games for your core audience.  You stop listening to the people whining "but it *HAS* to be inclusive" or whatever buzzword is being pushed this week.  Don't piss on them, don't mock them, and when there's someone who whines and cries over a limerick you can tell them "tough."

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Question 4: Quantity of DLC

 

dlc-survey-slide-09.jpg

 

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.

 

I don't think that's a good takeaway from that response. Sure, the big stuff won out by a lot, but a significant amount of people also said they would like small stuff in addition to the big stuff. I believe that is important to note, as small DLCs are far easier to produce, and as such adding them in among the big DLCs on occasion would appeal to even those that didn't directly vote for the "Mixed Bag" option.

 

 

Question 9: Genre Preference

 

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.

Yeah I didn't understand why it was laid out like that, it was frustrating but also pointless? If you wanted to have the same results the tried and true method of "Rate each of these from 1 to 10" would have been less frustrating, but in my opinion even then it would be flawed. From the get go it should have been just a bunch of questions that were "Rate this genre from Hate to Love", like most of the questions before it. I didn't understand why it was different from the other questions that were asking similar things (like the one asking about type of DLC preference)

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Great and interesting post thanks.

 

One thing - the charts with complex answers are not very readable, because "negative" and "positive" answers are mixed together. Also too many colors in my opinion.

 

Being a UI/UX guy I couldn't resist an urge to propose the following setup (for the future):

 

chart.png

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About DLC features - it'd be awesome to have coop/competetive multiplayer features in Pillars of Eternity and other RPGs, but it's an absolute no-go for DLCs. Such things should be a part of the base game, or free patches, and not DLCs.

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Regarding data presentation: I would love to see IQR on the bars the next time. Some questions looked like distribution of answers might be as interesting as the mean values themselves (average season pass price, for instance).

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Interesting results.  For me, what's most important is whether I'm getting value for the money.  If I am, then I'm a happy camper, if not, well, no need to go on.  As for sports games, I don't dislike sports games per say, I don't care too much for the games in EA's stable--they're too twitch oriented for this geezer.  Now, give me a game like Baseball Mogul or Football Mogul or APBA Baseball, where there's A LOT of strategy involved and you can play on multiple levels, then I'm on board.

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about genres:

Since Obsidian makes RPGs, its not a big surprize that RPGs were the most popular genre in a survey made by obsidian. It would be interesting to know what kind of RPGs people like. (western or JRPG/ turn based, real time with pause or action/ ancient times, middle ages, today, cyberpunk or space, . . . )

 

For me, story and atmosphere are the most important things in a game, followed by exploration and puzzles. I do not care what kind of game gives me those things. So here are some examples of games I like most: western RPGs ( Planescape Torment), JRPGs ( Trails series), action adventures ( Zelda Ocarina of time) and adventures (Monkey Island).

I dislike action RPGs like Diablo, running around and killing things to get random loot becomes boring fast.

Looks like I like casual games more than others. I played minesweeper adventure while thinking about what to write here. But I would not spend money for such games.

I dislike sport games because if I want sport, I do it myself. (says somebody who ran over 15 marathons)

 

about countries:

I am surprized that the USA are so far ahead.

Obsidian is an american company, but this forum or the other ways to fill out the survey can be used from all over the world. The places where you can buy games are the same all over the world too (e.g. steam).

I do not think that americans like computer games much more than other countries. So I do not think this survey is representative in a way that ( survey participants / population of the country = how much do people like computer games).

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off topic:

In the first image of this page, what are the two games on the lower left?

(the knight and the mage fighting a group of goblins and the women with the burning hair and the ravens)

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Thanks for this !

 

On Question 5 -

: "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."

 

I don't pretend talking for everyone here, but I'd assume that probably what most of us meant, was that we don't mind waiting for deep contents (Over the other interpretation), but that's just my guess.

 

Keep it up Obsidianites !

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If i remember correctly, i chose Lithuania for country and Linux as my gaming platform. Neither of those are present in the results. The cake is a lie!

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Very interesting - thanks for the breakdown :)

But: "Nooooooooo - you're not really canceling Lord Bolingbroke Polo 2018 are you?  Think of the DLC you could have: New ball textures, leather feed-bag for the horsies, platinum horse-shoes!!11!"

 

*ahem*

 

Okay, I'll live without it ... so long as Deadfire has a horse...or a cow...basically any 4-legged mammal will do.

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2 things:

- I'm italian and I answered to the survey

- I hate DLC, that's why I think a "clean plate" is the best option... at the same time I love expansions because they are usually big and with a playtime like the base game. I love the standalone option, but I also think that is better if I can import my character/items.

 

In the end, if the "expansion" is a complete game sequel (like the white march) I don't care if you call it expansion...

 

Of course I prefer to know how much money I have to spend before that's why a goty is the best option, but if the base game is already a complete package I'm ok with just buy it and think about expansions later.

 

For the multiplayer, I don't really care about it. And I think it's best to focus on single player. But if someone want to make a kickstarter (or fig) for the multiplayer part I'm not against this option.

 

Finally, waiting it's ok for me. If the result it's great.

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Would be very interested in the numbers for Linux and OSX, not just "PC - Windows". Even if they don't make a huge bar on the chart, It'd be fun to have them just for comparison.

 

 

 

_________

 

And to flesh out my answer for the Survey:

 

I wait for the complete game to be released before playing it, be it bite-size DLC or expansions, as I can't be arsed to go back to an old playthrough to continue my adventure. Also, bug fixes. For illustration, I just a mere month ago started my first serious PoE play.

 

If a game has multiple DLCs, I generally go with buying the inevitable Complete edition, since I'll likely (as stated above) won't be playing the game anywhere near release anyway. Though for the select few awesome Games from awesome Developers, I tend to buy the base game at release, such as to show my support. In Obsidians case I've backed both PoE 1 and 2 during the funding campaign without hessitation.

 

Multiplayer = meh. In these games, the only MP that could make sense would be Co-op like in Divinity: OS-ish.

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Why do RPG fans hate sports games?

For me, the answer to that question is that I like computer games that are a fantasy. That aren't something I could be doing in the real world.

 

For example, I can't (won't!) run around in the real world with guns, grenades, tanks, killing people (shooters). I can't pretend to be an elf hero wielding magic, or a muscle-bound barbarian doing killing leaps and hacking all around me (FRPGs). I can't build/guide a civilisation from barbarism (or a single world) to ruling the world (or galaxy) (4X games).

 

However, I can grab a ball and some friends and go outside and kick/hit/toss it around. Grab a tennis racket and go play tennis. Join a social sports competition and play the game.

 

So hate - even dislike - are too strong. I'm just not interested in sports games since I'd rather play the sport than play a game about it.

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Same here, always wait for complete game, with all DLC. As for the price, if it is good, it doesn't really matter.

RPG and Adventure.

Didn't saw the examples of adventure games, haven't play any of those, i was thinking on Day Of The Tentacle, Grim Fandango, Downfall, etc.

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P.S. Amazed how few respondents there are from EU compared to US.

 

Compare to population and take into account how many speak English well enough to do the survey. If we divide the answers by population (millions, rounded) we get a new list for top countries:

 

1. FINLAND  923/6=154

2. SWEDEN 141210=141

3. CANADA 3909/36=108

4. AUSTRALIA 2471/24=103

5. USA 25089/323=78

6. BRITAIN 3939/66=59

7. POLAND 1651/37=45

8. GERMANY 2431/82=29 

9. FRANCE 1132/67=17

10. RUSSIA 1070/144=7

 

This leaves the top 6 as the countries where people speak native-level English.

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I'd forgotten about this survey! :D

 

Good to see the results. Personally when it comes to DLC, I buy the base game first and then grab the DLC as and when it comes out depending on my interest. Fallout 4 was the first and last time I bought a season pass. (Fool me once, etc)

 

I feel that playing the base game first lets me get to grips with the world and the characters, especially in an RPG. Then, when the DLC arrives I can take those characters with their knowledge and throw them into a totally new environment with a new set of challenges. One of my fondest memories is stepping into Zion in Honest Hearts or Big M.T. in Old World Blues and just being blown away with how different it was.

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Question? I see that steam is the main choice of download. Why are you delaying release for Outer World on your number 1 download source?

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On 6/22/2019 at 2:41 AM, DirkPrime said:

Question? I see that steam is the main choice of download. Why are you delaying release for Outer World on your number 1 download source?

Moooooooooooooooney

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On 6/21/2019 at 6:41 PM, DirkPrime said:

Question? I see that steam is the main choice of download. Why are you delaying release for Outer World on your number 1 download source?

Publisher's decision. Fun fact about the industry: the developer makes the game for the publisher and then the publisher does whatever they want with it.

Obvious loopholes being studios that are both dev and publisher or crowd-funded games.

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