DCUO "Monthly Updates" Promised by SOE

Posted by Daeity On Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The President of Sony Online Entertainment (John Smedley) has just announced that DCUO users will be getting content updates every month.

President of Sony Online Entertainment John Smedley said that if you decide to play DC Universe Online, you won't have to worry about any additional costs besides your regular monthly fee. Smedley told Eurogamer that they will be offering free monthly upgrades of additional content and weekly patches if things need to be fixed right away, instead of big DLC packages you have to purchase additionally. The new content for PC and PS3 will launch within a day or two of each other, even though it takes longer for updates to be approved on the PS3 platform. (They'll hold all the PC upgrades until the equivalent one is ready.)

"But the plans are about a month out you can start expecting major pieces of content and major new features to come in," he said. "We'll be adding all kinds of cool stuff. We're not quite ready to reveal what our after-launch plans are yet. Needless to say we have a lot of content we're in QA on that players haven't seen yet."

This echoes what DCUO Game Director Chris Cao's told Techland about seeing tons more feats and other weapons in the near future. Smedley said that the monthly fee made the company feel obligated to provide free constant upgrades and new features.
There will be "major pieces of content" and "major new features" (in addition to standard patches/fixes) implemented every month apparently.

EVERY MONTH? Where have we heard THAT before? Oh right.. Blizzard Entertainment said the same thing about World of Warcraft (except add "major content updates", "new weapons" and "new quests".)

Sony mentioned that they already have a "lot of content" currently in QA (considering the current state of the game, I fully expect so), which is all well and good.. but do they have enough content to last the next "five, ten years" that they want to run the game? Doubtful.

There's no way they'll be able to keep up with the game's demands. This is just another example of a company getting really excited about something.. but they never properly planned ahead and simply lack the foresight. Well, the management team anyways - I suspect that they didn't consult the development team before making this announcement. =]

Once Blizzard realized their mistake back in 2004-2005, they quietly removed all instances of the "major content updates every month" statement from their webpage and forums. That was actually one of the big selling points for me at the time too. Shortly after though (when they ran out of content), the updates came once every 3 months, then every 6 months, and then they became paid Expansion Packs. How very disappointing.. =[

I can see the same problem happening with DCUO.

The other problem is that once the novelty of the game wears off, Sony will be reducing their support staff which in turn effects development time of said content. They haven't released any sales figures yet (which is interesting in itself), but I'm not really interested in that anyways - what does interest me is retention rate. And based on what I've seen (it's not a very deep MMO), retention rate will probably be around 1-3 months on average.

(Note: Back in 2008 before DC Universe Online was announced, John Smedley believed that this PS3 MMO game would be the WoW killer.)

* UPDATE (01/21/11):

Worldwide sales figures estimates have been released courtesy of vgchartz.com.

During the first week: PS3 sold 150,764 copies and the PC version sold 45,267 copies.

No wonder Sony didn't release their sales figures! SOE President John Smedley stated that "The game is sold out in a lot of stores." Well, yeah.. the stores that only carried 3 copies.

They did, however, take a good piece of advice from the Blizzard Bible: "We're adding more servers to keep up with the growth." Even though there was no growth or need for extra servers.

By comparison, first week sales of Age of Conan were more than 500,000 units, AION sold somewhere between 400,000 and 700,000 copies during their first week, and Warhammer Online sold more than 500,000 units. It seems that 500k is the magic number for newly hyped MMORPG's.

* UPDATE (01/25/11):

Another confirmation that significant content will be released every month. Sony is also defending their high subscription fee.

Apparently, this "monthly content paid service" is really being pushed hard. The rest of the article didn't sound very good though.. it's only been a week, and Sony is already trying to defend the game.
We understand we're asking a lot and the equation I always give to people is that it's similar to DLC - if you were getting DLC from Red Dead Redemption every month, I'd probably sign up for that because I buy every piece of DLC they throw at me.

We haven't had an opportunity to prove ourselves to the players on that content delivery.
There was also mention that F2P is very unlikely.

* UPDATE (02/03/11):

FYI - if you're interested in latest maintenance announcements, server restarts and patch notes, they can all be found HERE.

No word on when the next content patch will hit, so far it's just been maintenance and bug fixes. But Sony promised once a month, so there _should_ be new stuff (dungeons, quests, gear) by the end of February. "Should" being the operative word.

* UPDATE (02/19/11):

Sony has set the first benchmark for their promised monthly content updates. Here's what they've implemented, and you should be expecting the same level of content each and every month:
New Batcave Raid – 8 players will have the opportunity to infiltrate and retake Batman's Inner Sanctum, which has been overrun by OMAC and the Dark Knight's own corrupted technology. Fight along side Batman against Brother Eye!
New Appearance Items – Earn a Harlequin Clown suit or a Cherub disguise through a variety of holiday activities.
Goddess of Love Alert – Join up with three others to decide the epic battle between Devotion and Scorn once and for all.
New Races – Can you catch Catwoman as she leaps across buildings in Gotham City?
New Collections - All new collection sets will allow players to continue finding these hidden items.
New Themed Missions – Enjoy various missions that will challenge the player in combat, jumping, and much more.
A New Bane Duo – Another Duo has been added for your enjoyment! Pair up with another player and take on Bane for a chance at great loot.
New PvP Ring Event – Available on both PvP and PvE servers, Heroes and villains race to either save or steal valuable bags of diamonds from armored vans.
An Auction House - Players may now buy and sell tradeable items on a Broker in The Watchtower and Hall of Doom.
New Armor – Make your way to the Gotham Museum and help Catwoman to receive pieces of brand new Mayan armor!
So basically: new raids, new races, new collections, new missions, new events, and new items/gear/appearances... every month. We'll see.