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A few weeks ago we shared the first details on our
roadmap for Arma 3, outlining
what we're working on for the years 2014 and 2015. We discussed further support, such as the free Bootcamp Update, revealed two premium DownLoadable Content (DLC) packages, and provided a first glance at a future Expansion.
Today, we'd like to follow-up on that and explain how this new content fits into the Arma 3 platform, mainly with regards to preventing a split in our playerbase. To frame our plans, let's take a look at the way DLC is typically handled in games, the way we did it for Arma 2, and our motivations for changing this up in Arma 3.
Game content sold after the initial release often fractures the player-base: those who own the content and those who don't. Many games take this for granted. Most noticeable in the multiplayer environment, this split prevents players who don't own DLC from joining and playing with friends who do own it. In many modern games, if you don't own, for example, a vehicle pack, you cannot join servers that use those vehicles.
This is perhaps the most straight-forward illustration of what we'd like to avoid in Arma 3. We've made a point of positioning the game as a platform - one that keeps evolving, growing and maturing over time. Anything that splits the playerbase goes against that philosophy, so we're eager to prevent this from happening where we can.
If you've played Arma 2, you may know that we already provided a solution to avoid this type of split. In the form of so-called
'lite' data, we released downloadable content to everyone who owned the game, regardless of whether people purchased it. In this lite data, the
fidelity of the artwork, audio and animations was
lowered via compression techniques. To give an example, a lite tank would have low quality textures and compressed sound effects for those people who did not own the DLC. We like to think the theory behind this was actually pretty cool; it achieved its goal of avoiding the split. In the end, everybody was able to connect to any MP game, even when it used DLC.
However, for players and developers alike, this approach wasn't always ideal. For our players, it could quite drastically affect their
perception of quality. For example, if a player was unaware of our 'lite' approach, they'd play a game with high-quality content mixed in with low-quality content - thinking this was either a bug or poor production values on our part. There was no real sense of what was and what wasn't DLC.
So, how to prevent an inconsistent mix of high and low quality content? Simple: give
everyone all content at its
highest quality for free. However, we also have to acknowledge the realities of running a business and the costs of quality development. Simply put: we need to sell new products so that we can continue to grow, improve our teams, and further invest in Arma 3's development.
For Arma 3, we've been looking at other ways of achieving the same goal, while making it more obvious to players when they are using DLC - or as we also refer to it: premium content. We've been experimenting with various
reasonable restrictions for
unowned content. This means making all premium content available to everyone, but applying certain limitations and notifications for those who haven't purchased it. Since that may sound rather vague on paper - and because we're interested in gathering your reactions as you uncover them - we don't want to detail each specific restriction just yet. Instead, we'd like to provide a concrete example of how it all works. We'll go into further details below.
To explain the system a bit more thoroughly, while you'll be able to use premium content everywhere - in singleplayer, the editor and multiplayer - if you haven't yet purchased it, notifications will be shown. These become more prominent the longer you use an unowned asset - and only when you're using it - we have no intention to present 'ads' to you when you are not actively playing with unowned content.
Should you like an asset, let's say a new helicopter, you can then buy the DLC package it belongs to, for example the Arma 3 Helicopter DLC. The cool thing about that is, with the help of Steam, you can now purchase a package without leaving the game (you can still, however, also purchase the DLC directly from Steam and out-of-game). Note that you will not be buying individual assets, like a single weapon / vehicle / scenario, but rather the whole package.
Let's take a look at what we consider to be the main benefits of our new approach for players.
This approach also offers serious benefits to us as a developer. Anything that streamlines the development process will, ultimately, benefit our players, too!
Time to explore an example. Say, we will include a new helicopter and showcase scenario as part of the paid Arma 3 Helicopters DLC. When it releases on Steam, a
free game update to Arma 3 is released at the same time - containing all data belonging to the Helicopters DLC (including all premium content) - for
At this point, the DLC can be purchased via our own Store, through
directly from in game. Depending upon if you've purchased it or not, you'll encounter differences right from the main menu. To explain further, let's take a look at two cases:
On April 1 2014 we released a
parody video to which the response was very positive! At the same time, we were looking for a good way of trialing our new DLC strategy: offering premium content to test and validate our new approach.
Even though we believe in our new approach to DLC, we realize that it's somewhat experimental, and may yet not work out. We'd like to see how players respond to it, whether they see the benefits, and whether it actually works. Rather than doing this via the first 'big' DLC - namely, Arma 3 Helicopters - Arma 3 Karts was born.
We've arrived at the following prices for the Arma 3 premium content packages:
* The DLC Bundle is the best value for Arma 3 fans who want to get the most out of the platform. It contains the 3 DLC packages: Karts, Helicopters and Marksmen. The bundle does not include the Expansion.
Those who supported our development by purchasing the limited
Arma 3 Supporter Edition will be getting everything above
without surcharge, including the Expansion
The Karts DLC is available right now! Update the Arma 3 main game to
version 1.20 and find various in-game options to purchase it (or buy directly from our store). Since we consider the Karts DLC to be more of a fun little side-step - and also as a way to trial our DLC business model -
a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the Arma 3 Karts DLC will be donated to the Czech Red Cross. The total amount raised will be announced on
www.bistudio.com in June 2014.
Overall, we've tried to devise an approach to DLC that's most beneficial to our players, providing quality content without dividing the playerbase, while still funding our future development. It will be interesting to see what you think of it. Please give it a go in-game.
Based on your feedback, there will be a round of tweaking followed by an
evaluation of the whole strategy. If it works out, we'll continue to iterate and improve it. If it doesn't, we'll have to look for other solutions. Either way, for now, have
fun racing karts around Altis!
On behalf of the Arma 3 team,
Joris & Jay