Monday, March 2, 2009

DLC's future is bright as Xbox Live continues to dominate over PSN

Two weeks ago, the launch of Rockstar's GTA IV: The Lost and Damned downloadable content pack "eclipsed first-day revenue" for all content released via Microsoft's Xbox Live service. While no numbers were released by Microsoft, there is no doubt, that this number is very large and will change how game developers and publishers produce and release downloadable content and expansions through Xbox Live and Playstation Network services... not to mention how these types of games are recieved/reviewed by the media and the public.

The launch of Bethesda's $10 downlodable expansion Operation Anchorage for Fallout 3 and the upcoming release of Fallout 3: The Pitt which will extend the level-cap and offer up a few more features for players will only be available for download on Xbox 360 and PC. Ubisoft recently announced a week delay in their downloadable expansion Prince of Persia: Epilogue which it will be made available through the PSN and Xbox Live. As the downloadable content department future looks brighter and brighter, content will continue to become more robust and more economical and attractive venture for both publishers and users alike (cough... nearly 20 hours of extra gameplay for $20 is pretty amazing... cough).

As DLC continues to grow and in the midst of battle between console network behemoths Xbox Live and PSN, Sony released some interesting numbers last week, stating that the number of registered users on the free-to-register PSN now exceeds that of Xbox Live at over 20 million users to Xbox's 17 million.

Quick snapshot comparison of stats courtesy of Variety:

- PSN (PS3 and PSP) around 70 million devices
- Xbox Live (Xbox 360) about 28 million

Existence of services:
- PSN has been around for 27 months.
- Xbox Live 67 months

- PSN $180 million in gross revenue
- Xbox Live over $1 billion (per MSFT at E3 in 2008)

So what does all of this mean? The validity in the whole online content scheme of things is highly questionable, as registered users mean nothing sans usage numbers. Fanatics will do the inevitable on a free service and horde user names, create accounts for the US and other networks, many of which inevitably go inactive. Xbox Live is the clear winner here based on quality of downloadable content and basic amounts of revenue that have poured in through their service - to reiterate what I mentioned above, it will be interesting to see if they disclose the amount of units sold for Rockstar's latest hit or the upcoming expansions, Prince of Persia: Epilogue or Fallout 3: The Pitt.

With the diehard Playstation fans forcing Xbox 360 exclusive user product reviews down by scoring The Lost and the Damned and other highly anticipated and reviewed games like Epic's Gears of War 2 unreasonably low (think a 0-2 rating), the real question is no longer what you can do for Sony, but what is Sony going to do to step up their game in the market.

Premium paid accounts with unique product offerings or discounts on DLC? Paying the price for exclusivity on upcoming downloadable content for hit games like Xbox recently did with the Lost and Damned at $50 million? Unlockable achievements? C'mon Sony, hook us up with something!

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