Ubisoft is about to launch its next major franchise, and the company is taking notes from the competition about how to avoid disappointing fans.
Tom Clancy’s The Division, an apocalyptic shooter set in New York, has a year of extra content in the works, and the publisher is providing a detailed roadmap for when fans can expect everything to roll out. Ubisoft is planning on using a combination of free updates in the months after the March 8 release along with a staggered launch of paid expansions to keep fans engaged. This is crucial for an online game that requires a steady stream of paying players to justify its online infrastructure. And Ubisoft’s openness seems to suggest it has learned a lot from publisher Activision and developer Bungie’s Destiny.
In comparison to The Division, Bungie’s sci-fi online shooter had a vague plan for its first year of content and a much less substantial outlook for 2016. That dearth of content and info has led to an antsy, unsatisfied player base, and you can see that if you ever troll forums like the Destiny message board on Reddit. This is an issue for Activision since it is relying on Destiny to leverage the potential of retail game sales and digital add-on content over the next several years. With console gaming worth tens of billions of dollars, it is potentially lucrative to have a blockbuster release running as a service. But it is Ubisoft that may figure out how to really make this concept work.
The big problem with Destiny is that players often don’t know what they’re working toward. Earlier this year, rumors suggested that a Destiny 2 was coming in September, but now it’s not coming until 2017. Instead, Activision revealed during a conference call with investors that it is delivering a full expansion later this year. That’s the first time fans had ever heard this news, and they still don’t know what that add-on will look like. That uncertainty can manifest as a sensation of angst among players who wonder if playing Destiny has a point.
Ubisoft, however, wants players to know that it has two free updates and three paid expansions all coming out in the first 12 months of The Division’s release. The publisher is calling this the “Year 1 Content” plan, and it of course involves a season pass that you can buy right now to get access to everything.
The roadmap begins in April with Incursions, a free update, that will introduce an end-game activity built specifically for squads. In May, The Division will get more free content with the Conflict update that will focus on the player-versus-player Dark Zone area of the game’s New York City map. In June, free updates will give way to the first paid expansion, Underground. This will take players into abandoned subway system.
After those first three months, Ubisoft is going to start spacing out its releases.
The second expansion, Survival, is coming sometime “this summer.” It will focus on some sort of challenge mode. The third and final expansion of “Year 1” will come in winter, which likely means early 2017. It is called Last Stand, and it seems like it will introduce a new boss.
It’s possible that all of this content will come out to fill in what feel like gaps in the core version of The Division. We’ll take a look at the game as it launches to let you know about that. But, for now, Ubisoft obviously wants to give fans a game that they can feel good about digging into with the confidence that new activities aree always just a few months away.