DC Universe Gamers Almost Evenly Split Between PC and PS3

This month's addition of an Egyptian-cursed Catwoman is just the first in what the creators of DC Universe Online hope will be monthly updates for the cross-platform online game.

"We want to add more stuff to the game on a monthly basis," Chris Cao, DC Universe game designer told Kotaku. "We want to add stuff that people want and we have a robust series of metrics to measure that."

Those internal measurements of online play showed the game makers that for February it made the most sense to to make two types of additions: New play for people who had maxed out and things for gamers to do who haven't quite hit the highest level yet.

The metrics also track whether people are playing on a computer or Playstation 3. Currently about 45 percent of those playing are on a PS3.

"PS3 gamers tend to play more," Cao said. "But their session lengths are shorter. The average PS3 session is one to one and a half hours, maybe two hours. The typical PC session is usually two to three hours."

Those metrics also show that while many gamers have hit the highest level in the game with their characters, they haven't fully explored them yet. Characters in DC Universe Online, Cao pointed out, don't just level up, they can also earn new skills and items.

"DC Universe Online has feats in it, which are the secret sauce to the game," he said. "We have 18 suits in the game, and much more importantly, a feat system that gives you more skill sets. "

While a player's super hero or villain character can only go up to level 30, Cao says that once you max out your skill points and earn all of the costumes, you're essentially a level 50 character.

That's one of the key differences between DC Universe Online and many other online role-playing games like World of Warcraft, Cao said.

"Other games like this are about fighting a horde of monsters or going across a tundra, but DC Universe is very character based," he said. "If you can't fight along-side or against those characters from DC, if you really can't see yourself in those comics, then we haven't served the universe."

That leads to a lot of interesting decisions, as well, in the process of building out the game and its universe.

Take for instance the game's defining boss fights, battles with known DC characters highlighted by spectacular short animated movies. There are more than 60 of these boss fights in the game.

Those are what helps make players feel like they're not only in the comic, Cao said, but that the comic is coming to life.

"The cut scenes are like a little vignette into (a DC comic character's) life," he said. "The things you would have to read dozens and dozens of comics to understand. They do a really good job of distilling all of that down to a singe cut scene."
Those defining cut scenes sometimes also come with risk. Take for instance Wonder Girl's.

"That one has an internal divide," Cao said. "Half of the team love it, half hate it."

That's because the short video tweaks the character in an attempt to make Wonder Girl relevant to the times. She's blogging in the video, something you would never see in a classic DC comic, he said.

"We have a huge range of tone in the game," Cao said. "Some of the Batman and Joker cut scenes are very dark. Wonder Girl's are much more light-hearted."

The developers also struggle internally to decide not just how to present a character in the game, but which to introduce from the vast DC cast.

Take for instance Blue Beetle, a fan-favorite and top request. The character is dead in some portions of the DC Universe, but Sony Online Entertainment is considering bringing him into the game.

"I don't want to spoil anything, but we are making sure to listen to what people want," he said.