Bioware's director of online development Fernando Melo has discussed why launch day DLC is important for games during a talk at GDC Europe.
Day one DLC is where games like Dragon Age: Origins made the most money, according to Fernando Melo, but many fans continue to believe that day one DLC is making gamers pay more for content that could have just been placed in the core game.
Melo said that although retail sales may drop for games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, when DLC packs are released sales increase and people pick the games back up again.
If the game is a success and the DLC is offering more than weapon packs or small additions to the game, DLC will continue to sell at a steady pace and remains "really safe, from a risk perspective."
Melo points out that fans do want day one DLC, "contrary to what you might hear on the internet...fans do want more content." He explains that fans want that content now, but the timing of when to release the DLC is impossible to get right for every player.
Having DLC available from day one is actually catering to both players that want it right away, and players that want it after they have finished playing the game. Melo says that day one DLC really "just means you're making it available on their time. They choose when to pick that up. It's not based on us. It's not based on some first-party release schedule. It's there, if they want it they can pick it up day one. If they don't, they can wait until they've finished their game."
During his talk at GDC Europe Melo outlined a production schedule, which showed that DLC often goes into production before the game is complete. It's not a matter of DLC being taken from the core game and developers forcing gamers to pay extra, it's simply that the content is being produced at the same time, making it available for day one DLC.
Melo understands that communication with your fans is the best way for them to believe the explanation. He laments that "they will take whatever you're saying as like, 'you're lying to us.' That will always be there. The only way that that's going to go away is you fast forward a few more years, where this is just normal. Every game is digital from day one. Every game is an ongoing service, almost like an MMO, where on any given day new content shows up."