Engine

Content Updates


A content cadence is the regular release of new content updates that can include items, quests, playable maps, and other content in an experience. It's a part of live operations (LiveOps), the ongoing support of a live experience, which also includes experience expansions, bug fixes, and quality of life updates.

Content releases keep players engaged between larger updates and can be an essential element of a live experience's monetization strategy. Maintaining a content cadence requires developers to:

  • Choose correct content
  • Manage scope
  • Establish a routine
  • Prioritize sustainability

Choose Correct Content

A content cadence draws on existing gameplay systems to produce small, frequent releases of content. By being simple and relatively easy to produce, these rapid releases can be maintained without becoming an undue burden on the developers. Common examples of a content cadence include:

  • Avatar items
  • Furniture
  • Pets
  • Vehicles
  • Weapons
  • Levels/maps
  • Quests

Many of these examples are predominantly art-based, requiring little to no programming or game design work to produce. Simple variants on existing assets, like assets with only slight changes to color, are ideal because they can be produced quickly on a recurring schedule by the fewest possible team members. A good example of a content cadence are Pet Variants in Adopt Me!

Spotted pet variant in Adopt Me!
Colored pet variant in Adopt Me!

These examples only work in games with systems in place to support simple variations. Adding new systems to an experience to support new deliverables turns the content into an expansion, which would be unsustainable for the creation of a content cadence.

Cadenced content should consist of items and experiences that players regularly want. Tracking player behavior through analytics and gathering player feedback can provide valuable insight into the highest-value content to target.

Themed Content

Ideally, there are multiple systems in a game from which cadenced content can be produced. Building releases around a theme can help to unlock creativity and generate ideas for assets that fit together conceptually and aesthetically, like with Adopt Me! themed updates.

Themed update in Adopt Me!

Seasons and holidays are also rich sources of ideas with potential for limited-time cadence content. However, it is important to keep in mind that holidays are not universal and may not appeal to all players. Developers must determine which seasonal themes will be most popular with their game's audience.

Seasonal content in Robloxian High School

The core loop is a good place to start in identifying systems to support with content releases. Offering a variety of content allows developers to keep their cadence releases interesting, reduce the possibility of players becoming bored or overwhelmed by any one content type.

For more about core loops, see Core Loops.

Manage Scope

Scope is the amount of content contained in an update and the hours of work required to produce it. Spending fewer than three weeks' effort on content cadence is recommended in order to maintain a rapid update schedule and leave room for other LiveOps releases. The amount and type of content that can be produced in that time is dependent on each developer's capabilities and priorities.

Establish a Routine

Establishing a routine release cadence encourages players to check back often so they don't miss out on new releases. They may begin to anticipate the next release, and even speculate about it on social media, increasing awareness and interest among other players.

A regular release cadence also creates a beneficial routine for developers. Releasing on a schedule requires planning, coordination and communication between team members. With practice, developers can become more efficient at designing and releasing updates while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Determining the appropriate frequency of releases for a game must take into account factors such as the capabilities and availability of the developers, the scope of the planned releases, and player sentiment. In order to maintain player engagement between game expansions, many games release content cadence updates every two weeks to one month.

Prioritize Sustainability

To keep players engaged between updates, cadence content should not be immediately consumed by the majority of players,otherwise its purpose is defeated and developers are forced to release more frequently to keep up with demand. Requiring players to earn the content over time extends the life of each release and gives developers space to work on other update types.

Because content requires time and effort to produce, it's imperative to produce content sustainably with:

  • Progression
  • Limited-time content
  • Season passes

Progression

Games with progression, such as player levels or gated map zones, can use their content cadence to add more permanent content at the end of the progression, where seasoned players are starting to run out of objectives. Those high-level players will appreciate the fresh content that they can play immediately, while newer players will have more content to look forward to reaching in the future.

Limited Time Content

Limited-time content is content which is available to all players but only for the duration of an event. Players may be required to complete quests, achieve gameplay milestones,or earn event currency that they can exchange for the limited-time items. The limited-time nature of the event drives player engagement, and the objectives are balanced so that most players will require weeks to exhaust the entirety of the content.

Season Passes

A season pass system, also known as a battle pass, is a combination of limited-time event and progression system in which players must complete a series of quest objectives to earn item rewards. Season passes can be adapted to most games, offering developers a straightforward framework for designing cadence releases.

Season Pass in Jailbreak

However they choose to deliver their content updates, if developers structure their releases sustainably and keep up with the cadence, players will never be without new content for long. For more about season passes, see Season Pass Design