GOG survey results show customers' reaction to DLC, DRM and pre-release alphas

Phil Savage at

Digital distributor GOG.com has been letting younger games, with their modern engines and loud dubstep, run loose amongst the traditionally older residents of its catalogue. The problem for the store is that this newer generation are into all sorts of weird stuff - DLC, episodic releases, and even online activation. Rather than just give the youth free reign, they sent out a survey to customers, asking them to vote on what is and isn't acceptable to sell. They've now published the results, providing an interesting look at how these often controversial industry aspects are being received.

In almost all cases, the surveyed customers voted in favour of the additions. That's somewhat surprising. GOG have historically focused on bringing old, DRM-free games to digital distribution, and creating bespoke special editions through bonus content. That might suggest a user base who would be sceptical of the modern industry's love of extending a game's life through additional post-release content. That, apparently, is not the case; although it's worth remembering that the survey wasn't set up to judge whether these features are popular or liked, just whether they should be allowed into GOG's catalogue.

Of the general survey questions, the most supported potential addition was DLC, followed by episodic games and "Early Access" alphas. All three got over a 60% positive response. DLC and Episodic Season Passes also got majority of support, although these proved more controversial, with 52.29% and 56.23% yes votes respectively.

The only proposed plans that failed to gain majority support were for non-MMO multiplayer games requiring some form of online activation to access. Serial Key protection was narrowly rejected - 50.47% said no - while a third-party account was overwhelmingly dismissed, with over 70% of respondents dismissing the idea. Understandable perhaps, except the response was quite different when users were given specifics.

Planetary Annihilation was offered as an example, with GOG noting that it's online and skirmish focused, DRM-free for offline, but also that: "A unique key is required for Internet multiplayer, and an account with the developer's service is only required for the persistent online features." Given this choice, almost 78% of respondents were happy for the game to be sold.

Which makes it hard to draw firm conclusions. At best, the thing to note is that, far from people being immovably against DLC, or even DRM, consumers are more interested in judging things on a case-by-case basis - and what bonuses they're being offered as a result of perceived negatives.

As for GOG, as well as assuring they'll be considerate with their offerings of DLC And episodic content, they conclude by saying, "any game that we bring you guys with persistent multiplayer features will be at least as offline-friendly as Planetary Annihilation is."

Full statistics below: