GDC 2014: Assassin’s Creed IV Maps Are Free Because of Microtransactions
Written Saturday, March 22, 2014 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Microtransactions are bad, folks. They’re very bad… well, that’s what we’ve come to expect anyway, mainly due to some haphazard and ill-informed uses of the monetisation method.
Guess what though? There is a silver lining, as demonstrated by Damien Kieken, Game Director on Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag multiplayer.
Speaking at the Game Developers Conference, Kieken was keen to point out that Ubisoft Montreal’s approach to microtransactions was thus: they didn’t want hide content behind a paywall and they wanted to ensure players could naturally unlock all items without paying.
You must bear in mind though, that this only really works when the game has horizontal progression – where the latter unlocks are not overpowered compared to the earlier unlocks, they’re just different.
So where’s the silver lining? Well, because of the introduction of microtransactions in Assassin’s Creed IV, the studio decided to give map packs away for free. A direct result of microtransactions.
“Just quick notes here for example in our case,” said Kieken, “We are offering all of our maps… so all of the AC maps are free in AC4. The main reason is we don’t want to split the community. We don’t want to have players saying, ‘I have the DLC, so I’m only playing with the guys who have the DLC, my buddy doesn’t have the DLC, so he can’t play with me.’ It doesn’t make any sense.
“For us, because we want all of them to enjoy the game together, to keep playing together, to be happy together, and to spend money on the costume and other things.”
“I want to see that my friend is playing with the costume I don’t have and then be generous and want to purchase the same costume or unlock the same costume.”
Ubisoft even saw an increase in revenue via microtransactions when new map packs were launched for free too.
“People are coming back for DLC, of course,” said Kieken. “It brings more activity to your game, so naturally you have spikes of sales and activity, so yeah, it worked. I don’t have the curve line, but it had an impact, and that was the intention.”