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Why an indie chose free DLC instead of microtransactions

Feb 13 // Allistair Pinsof    @DtoidAllistair

"We are investing in the long term by investing in our fans."

Why would a developer offer a free 1.6GB expansion pack to its game?

Steve Piggot, Torn Banner president and lead designer of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, asks why not?

"For us, our primary goal -- and I know people say this a lot but it’s actually true -- it’s not to make money; it’s to make awesome games," Piggot said, in a Skype interview.

Last month, Torn Banner released a massive update to its melee-focused multiplayer hit: five new weapons, two new modes, and a whopping 13 maps.

"People love all this kind of nickle-and-dime DLC, and everyone finds something that works for their business -- that's fine. I just think for us it’s more important that people are happy than they are constantly paying for this subscription model," Piggot said. "We are still planning to do expansion packs that cost money, but we’ll always have free stuff for the community."

Free DLC is uncommon, these days, but a free expansion of this breadth makes Torn Banner look like videogame Mother Teresa next to triple-AAA DLC's Stalin and the iOS market's Chairman Mao.

So far, it's been working with Chivalry winning new fans through free weekends and expansions, making the title one of the biggest Kickstarter successes.

"You need to balance that stuff out. If you day one DLC people, they feel lied to and mistreated. We want people to be pumped up," Piggot said, "we worked four months to do that thing, that would have made more money if we charged for it, but we are investing in the long term by investing in our fans."

In the coming days, I'll be posting my full interview with Piggot where he discusses his thoughts on Dead Space 3's microtransactions, going from mod team to development studio, and the future of Torn Banner and Chivalry.

Spoilers: He's an alright guy.


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