First Modern Warfare 2 DLC Pack Sales Are Stimulating

By Jeff Mattas, Apr 07, 2010 4:20pm PDT [Update: 8:54 PM CST - BL] Activision has clarified that this DLC has broken the Xbox Live Marketplace record for most downloads within the first 24 hours and most downloads within the first week of release.

[Original Story] Microsoft has reported that the recently released 'Stimulus Package' downloadable map pack for Infinity Ward's record-selling Modern Warfare 2, has broken a "new record" on Xbox LIVE.

Despite some technical issues when the map pack was released, more than one million gamers downloaded the pack within the first twenty-four hours of release, with an additional 1.5 million gamers making the purchase within the first week. Impressive numbers, to be sure; however, when you consider Microsoft's report that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 players have cumulatively clocked in over 1.75 billion hours of game time since the game's November 2009 release, it kind of puts things in perspective.

Back when the 'Stimulus Package' was first announced, some doubted that it would be successful based on the higher price-point ($15) and the fact that two of the pack's five maps were just updated renditions of multiplayer maps from the original Modern Warfare. These sales numbers will likely silence the doubters, and could set an interesting precedent for the pricing of future downloadable content for triple-A titles. Highly-successful competitive multiplayer first-person shooters seem to be a natural "sweet-spot" for successful DLC sales, given the general dedication of the core audience.

Activision calls the DLC "record-breaking," though it's not entirely clear if they're asserting that the 'Stimulus Package' achieved an unmatched number of downloads, an unmatched profit margin, the most downloads in a two-week period, or something else altogether. We've reached out to Activision for clarification on the issue.

The Modern Warfare 2 'Stimulus Pack' is currently only available via Xbox LIVE, though PlayStation 3 and PC versions are still forthcoming.

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  • Highly-successful competitive multiplayer first-person shooters seem to be a natural "sweet-spot" for successful DLC sales, given the general dedication of the core audience.

    Or, from another viewpoint, "The prevalence of de facto mandatory DLC in multiplayer first person shooters may result in the end of free expansion content in the subgenre."

    There are always going to be the apologists saying, "You don't HAVE to buy it if you don't want to," but to that, I say "Try starting Modern Warfare 2 on a console without the DLC in August 2010".

    Mods, sort of, were traditionally seen in PC multiplayer as a way to extend the life of a product, but... if you can SELL them that content, and it's first-party developed instead... and that's sort of the tinfoil-hatty version, but it's probably kind of true. -- Jake Rodkin, Idle Thumbs 48, 5 minutes, 53 seconds

    And again, IW has not announced the price of the PC DLC (Robert Bowling's Twitter feed, the official community management source for Modern Warfare 2, specifically says "I don't know; announcement coming soon" on an April 6th tweet), but I don't think it's going to be free.


  • It's called "vendor lock-in". The best part of MW2 is the multiplayer, and since it's matchmaking-driven, those players who don't buy the DLC run the risk of getting kicked out of a match on a map rotation if it goes to one of the DLC maps. It's similar to the Halo 2 and Halo 3 DLC map packs.

    And since MW2 is authenticated via Steamworks, that locks in MW2 PC players into an infrastructure where they may be forced to pay for the PC version of the DLC pack. The "free multiplayer trial" this weekend may be an attempt to placate pending outrage at the announcement that the DLC will not be free (if it isn't free; there's been no announcement from IW yet).