In an age where DLC timed exclusivity is rapidly becoming the norm, gamers are learning to just grit their teeth and wait it out. Call of Duty fans on PC and PS3 know they’ll be waiting a month. Battlefield 3 players on Xbox mark the calendar for one week after Sony fans get their new fixes. Bethesda also opted to go this route with their epic Skyrim, putting their new content on Microsoft’s console 30 days before spreading it around. When the first major add-on content for the title, “Dawnguard,” was announced. Those with Xbox 360s gloated while everyone else groaned. Thankfully, it would only be a short wait. One month’s time would put the DLC release during the quietest period for game releases, giving new vampires (and hunters) something to do… right?
The funny thing about exclusivity agreements is that they are minimums. The assumption was that Bethesda would release on PC and PS3 as soon as they were able to and cash in on the summer doldrums. The only problem is, it’s the summer doldrums. This time of year is notorious for lower sales. Families are on vacation, the weather is beautiful and people are spending more time outside. That’s why it came as little surprise to us when Pete Hines, VP of PR and Marketing at Bethesda recently tweeted:
While some might be alarmed because the content hasn’t been announced for other platforms, Bethesda is a smart company. They aren’t going to push out “Dawnguard” just because the exclusivity is now over, and they aren’t going to leave the money that PC and PS3 players are chomping at the bit to throw at them on the table. The publisher will want to maximize exposure and revenue, and that means releasing during a more fertile period. It’s simply good business.
Bethesda may also want to wait until the PS3 and PC are comfortably running 1.7 (at the same time—it’s available now on Steam) before rolling out “Dawnguard.” Even if Bethesda has the content ready, acting demure is the better strategy. A backlash from The Elder Scrolls faithful would be significant if a date were announced too far in advance. Surprising gamers though, typically has a net positive effect. There’s little time to question why something is “taking so long,” and the community tends to forgive quickly when it gets what it wants.
Whether Hines is being coy about a release or Bethesda really hasn’t made a decision about its presence beyond the Xbox 360 will remain a mystery (perhaps until QuakeCon this weekend). For now, it’s a waiting game.