Isabelle Mocquard and Dave Richard on Games as a Service
Behaviour’s Head of Product Strategy, Isabelle Mocquard, and Dave Richard, Creative Director on Dead by Daylight, put their heads together for a new GDC talk on games as a service. You can watch their whole talk here.
Milking players for money is “evil,” Dave Richard says, and that’s precisely why the Creative Director on Dead by Daylight is proud of the values-based approach that Behaviour is taking with the game.
Since its launch four years ago, Dead by Daylight has grown to an average of 2.7 million active monthly users and the game’s development team has expanded from around 30 at its launch to more than 200 today.
With player interest and development needs soaring, it became clear early on that a source of revenue was needed to support the game’s evolution. In 2018, an in-game store was introduced and more recently a Battle Pass.
“It’s often seen as something a bit dirty, but the thing is we need to make money to keep supporting the game’s development costs,” says Behaviour’s Head of Product Strategy, Isabelle Mocquard.
Vital to the success of any game as a service like Dead by Daylight is striking that delicate balance between keeping players entertained and feeling respected while generating the funds needed to keep the game running. Finding that balance invoked “a lot of soul searching,” Dave says, and resulted in the identification of four values that all monetization features in Dead by Daylight must meet.
VALUABLENESS: Rather than sell expensive items that players need to win, Dead by Daylight opted to sell cosmetics through its store that are entirely optional and enrich the visual experience for everyone. Customized for each character, many of the high-quality cosmetics come with stories that add value by deepening both the game’s lore and the fantasy element for players.
“This strategy to add lots of value to our monetization features has paid off,” Isabelle says. “We have in general one player out of five who spends money after the initial game purchase – this is very good.”
RESPECT: Respecting a player’s taste, time and money is the second value that Dead by Daylight’s monetization features must meet. This means ensuring that there are cosmetics available for all characters, not just those that are most popular with players. It also means ensuring cosmetics are priced within reach of all players: an individual items goes for as little as 50 cents and a full outfit from $1.20 to an average of $10.
Respecting players’ time is also vital. With players spending an average of one hour a day with the game, the dev team made sure players can get through levels and unlock rewards in that amount of time.
“You need to respect players of all types and you need to ease their chosen way to access what is fun in your game,” Dave says.
GENEROSITY: Respect is closely linked to generosity and inclusiveness, which means allowing the greatest number of players possible to enjoy all aspects of the game. Players can acquire the game’s soft currency, iridescent shards, just by playing and that soft currency can be used to unlock between 60 to 70 per cent of the store. With the $10 Battle Pass, players can earn more than $200 worth of cosmetics and even get the $10 they spent back if they finish all 70 levels. The pass is linked to The Archives, a new element of the game introduced in 2019. All challenges and narrative aspects of The Archives are available to all players and translate to an additional 20 to 30 hours of free content with each new tome.
“People are playing more to unlock content and that’s generated a huge impact on engagement,” Dave says. “Being generous means making sure all players are included in the whole game and they are happy and engaged.”
TRANSPARENCY: Explaining the need and your intent for micro-transaction features and acknowledging mistakes constitute the fourth value that must be met. “I remember trying to figure out with Dave how to communicate our store to our players; we were honestly a bit frightened by that,” Isabelle says. “What we did was post a blog entitled ‘Our store philosophy’ that we shared with our community before the store came out.”
Transparency is also essential for getting dev team buy in for new features. “If you can get your team on board 100 per cent, it’s going to be easier to get your community to understand what’s going on,” Dave says.
The Dead by Daylight team also began providing its player community with a preview of content planned for the year ahead. “It sends a strong message that they can keep investing their time and money in our game because we, devs, are committed to keep investing in it as well,” Isabelle says.
The backlash Isabelle, Dave and their teams feared never materialized. In fact, Dead by Daylight’s players have rallied behind them.
“When you design monetization respectfully, this is what you get. You turn players into ambassadors,” Isabelle says. “Instead of backlash, we saw lots of positive word of mouth.”
“Having a respectful monetization design also helps to get the buy-in from our dev team. As Dave said at the beginning, it is very important that your dev team doesn’t see monetization features as evil features.”