Used Vs New

The Mass Effect Day 1 DLC debate got me thinking about some of the issues in the games industry.  Are customers being exploited?  Are customers losing out while stuck in the middle of the publishers’ fight against used games?  My thoughts on DLC can be found here.

I can see why publishers and developers might not like used games.

New games go into the shops, with the retailer paying a fee for the product and then selling it on, making the initial outlay back plus profits.  That in itself, is fair.  However, when it comes to used games, the retailer pays the customer a small trade in fee and then re-sells the game, keeping all the income from that sale to themselves.  Although multiple customers will buy the game, often exchanging the same copy, the developer only receives payment on the first sale. (more…)

Are we being exploited by DLC?

Spurred on by the debate around the Mass Effect 3 DLC, I started writing some thoughts down.. but it quickly turned into a definite TL;DR with DLC, online passes, pre-order bonuses, retailer exclusives and the fight against used games.. as well as the all-too-common cry that customers are being exploited.

So.. I’ve split it all up, with this part mainly being about DLC, in-game purchases and other bonuses, and another part to come about the fight against used games.  I’ve mentioned a few games or companies in my examples here.. either because they were the first or best example to come to mind, or because I know that product better.  I’m sure I’ve missed some great examples, and although I’ve checked my facts, I may have something wrong or out of date in here.. so feel free to let me know in the comments 🙂

The first Mass Effect 3 DLC pack appeared briefly on the Xbox Live Marketplace last week, and stirred up quite a debate about exploitation.

One complaint against DLC is that it provides an incentive for developers to withhold part of the game to charge more for it later.. or even on the same day, in the case of Day 1 or unlocks of content from the game disk itself.  You can’t return DLC if you don’t enjoy it, nor can you sell it on as it’s usually tied to your game account.  Other complaints are about price (Modern Warfare 2’s ‘Stimulus Package’: £10 for 5 maps, two of which were re-releases), or the worth of the DLC (Oblivion’s Horse Armour), and then there’s the idea that it’s only being produced to milk consumers for every last penny. (more…)

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a single-player action RPG developed by 38 Studios and Big Huge Games, and published by 38 Studios and Electronic Arts.

The game takes place in the fantasy kingdom of Amalur, where players can choose from four playable races and define their own class through the destiny system.  Players begin the game having arisen from the dead, and are free to choose and customise their character as they wish, while exploring a vast game world.

The game universe is also planned to be the setting of an upcoming MMO by 38 Studios, codenamed Project Copernicus.

A demo of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was made available on the 17th January, on Steam, Origin, Xbox Live and PSN, although critics complained of a number of bugs in the demo.

38 Studios and EA have also come under fire for the revelation that the game has an online pass.

Kingdoms of Amalur’s online pass is to be included with all new copies of the game, and unlocks a “House of Valor” content pack containing seven additional quests.  This is unusual, as it effectively locks out single-player content for anyone not buying new: the usual stated reason for using an online pass is to recuperate server costs and ongoing maintenance for online content.

Gamers annoyed by the inclusion of the online pass posted on the game’s forum to ask if the studio fought the restriction or not; studio head Curt Shilling also posted in the thread in defense of the online pass.  The debate is ongoing, with the thread now up to 137 pages.