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EA kills Online Pass program

EA kills Online Pass program

Thu 16 May 2013 12:23am GMT / 8:23pm EDT / 5:23pm PDT
GamesOnline

Publisher found "players didn't respond to the format"

EA has decided to stop its Online Pass program based on poor player response. The company launched the program - an extension of its Project $10 program for Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins - three years ago, as a defense against second-hand game sales. Online passes were available on all EA titles with a significant online component, including Battlefield 3, Madden NFL, and FIFA. The one-time use codes forced second-hand buyers to pay for a $10 digital key to unlock online modes.

EA senior director of corporate communications John Reseburg confirmed to VentureBeat that the program was going away. Reseburg said that player response to online passes was poor.

"Yes, we're discontinuing Online Pass," said Reseburg. "None of our new EA titles will include that feature. Initially launched as an effort to package a full menu of online content and services, many players didn't respond to the format. We've listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward."

"We're still committed to creating content and services that enhance the game experience well beyond the day you first start playing," Reseburg added.

EA was one of the originators, but Sony and Ubisoft are among the publishers that use online passes today.

51 Comments

Private
Industry

1,187 185 0.2
Popular Comment
It took them 3 years to find that out?

Posted:11 months ago

#1

Christopher Bowen
Editor in Chief

393 503 1.3
HAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Man, after all that bullshit they shoveled consumers, and all of that "well, the numbers prove us out!", it turned out EA was full of shit? Say it 'aint so!

Posted:11 months ago

#2

Tim Ogul
Illustrator

272 325 1.2
I liked online passes. It's better than ingame microtransactions.

Posted:11 months ago

#3

Saehoon Lee
Director - Gaming

59 40 0.7
Ok, well, I still give kudo to EA about actually making this decision. However, I don't understand why resourceful company like EA couldn't "listen" or "gather" those "player responds" before actually committing to the scheme. I am sure there were plenty... Is that mean the initial voice weren't enough? Or do the players have to speak louder? In any other way, thanks EA for trying that scheme out because now we "definitely" know that such scheme won't work. I wish we have that kind of luxury of trying something out and still stands after this kind of result.

Posted:11 months ago

#4

Marco Ferrada
Studying Analista Programador

4 3 0.8
That's the idea... Microtransactions are more profitable.

Posted:11 months ago

#5

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

1,993 902 0.5
Next up: the death of Day One DLC (hopefully)... I think people are getting tired of some types of microtransactions in cases where they're forced in to access content that's already on a disc, so I'm betting this victory will embolden the more vocal critics of that tactic to speak out even more. Of course, people need to stop buying into the scheme, but that's the battle that needs to take place so it's clear that there are better ways for a game to make a profit than jabbing users in the wallet.

Posted:11 months ago

#6

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

542 528 1.0
Popular Comment
I am surprised by this. I felt the intiative was good, discouraging the purchase of used copies. It had no other impact. Anyone who bought a legit new copy was not affected at all.

I was actually hoping more publishers would follow suit, but this could signal a change in delivery method/security for next gen consoles.

Those who had a problem with the online pass either buy used copies (then my question is: what do you expect from a used copy?) or are just generally anti-EA without really thinking about what this online pass meant.

Posted:11 months ago

#7

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

953 804 0.8
Do we really think this has anything to do with customer feedback?

I accept internal shifts in power and personal philosophy of EA leadership. I accept pressure from retailers putting a gun to everyone's head before the new consoles come out.

But customer feedback? If this is the first in a series of changes to EA products and philosophies based on customer feedback, then I am willing to believe that. Until then, I do not even dare to give my feedback in an EA forum due to the policy of accounts being locked for having an opinion.

Posted:11 months ago

#8

Andreia Quinta
Creative & People Photographer

193 424 2.2
About time EA did something right, goodness knows it took them long enough. Now what's left to find out are the real intentions behind such decision. Was it true customer feedback? Or is it because after 2+ years of having it implemented revenue numbers didn't really rise significantly?
Or the third and most likely, EA will shift to Micro-transactions in all future games, or actually, wait.. They won't be doing that after all... Damnit EA, there you go confusing your customers again... *rolls eyes*
I am surprised by this.
Me too, EA never does this kind of benign actions, makes me wonder what's next on the agenda
I felt the intiative was good
It was a corporative pathetic cash grab, no consumer would like this when a grand majority buys second hand. Second hand even helps brand new buys in fact, but that's another discussion.
discouraging the purchase of used copies
Apparently not, not even a dent in the 2nd hand market, as this very withdrawal measure demonstrates.

I respectfully disagree Andreas.

Posted:11 months ago

#9

Craig Burkey
Software Engineer

148 105 0.7
I think rather than scrapping them they should of been cheaper and they maybe should of done bulk deals with the larger 2nd hand sellers so they could include the code in them and offer prolific EA 2nd gamer the option to purchase a global pass for a reasonable discount

Posted:11 months ago

#10

Iain Stanford
Experienced Software Engineer

26 82 3.2
Popular Comment
Urgh. GamesIndustry.biz comments are just becoming the same as Reddit comments

Posted:11 months ago

#11

Brian Smith
Artist

193 77 0.4
@Andreas A further impact could be that it had a negative effect on online population for whichever game. A good online game is nothing without a good population to provide players to play with. Personally I've had a number of multiplayer games that I would have played had there been any online audience. Most games apart from the biggies only have a few months of suitable sized online population for good gaming. Last month I picked up Farcry 3 preowned for instance. The online pass was used and therefore there was no access to multilplayer. I might have played it a bit and added to the online population but it wasn't worth a tenner to me, as I suspect it's not for many customers.

Posted:11 months ago

#12

Isaac Kirby
Studying Computer Games Development

39 37 0.9
As part of the group of "offline only" players i can not say this impacts me much, though i welcome the move.
Games with the passes were only slightly cheaper second hand, and alot that included them were so "online heavy" i did not consider them at all.
However i feel the online pass is gone in name only. How many "special editions" were just games with codes to redeem for a little extra DLC in the first few days/weeks? I feel this to be a very similar move, reward the first time buyers, penalise the second hand market.

Posted:11 months ago

#13

Tim Ogul
Illustrator

272 325 1.2
Popular Comment
I really don't get all the complaints about Online Passes. If you bought the game, it came with them for free, and only took a minute to enter in. If you didn't buy the game, then who the #### are you to complain about anything? ;)

Posted:11 months ago

#14

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

768 1,001 1.3
but Sony, Activision, and Ubisoft are among the publishers that use online passes today.
Thats incorrect Mike. Sony and Ubisoft use online passes but Activision does not, atleast not on their console games.

While I think this is a good move for EA, I wonder when and if other publishers will follow suit. Or perhaps this was just an isolated incident.

Posted:11 months ago

#15

Craig Burkey
Software Engineer

148 105 0.7
@Tim I agree, what was the problem? It was given away free.

I wonder if this will result in an earlier sun setting policy of online functionality, I'm thinking the EA are finding it hard to do this to the games containing the online pass.

Posted:11 months ago

#16

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

953 804 0.8
@Tim

that is why I do not believe customer complaints play a role here. As you said, if you bought the game, why would you care. If you bought the game used, why would you bother complaining?

From an EA perspective, the online pass is a barrier to other forms of online monetization, such as DLC and microtrans. Why would you build such a wall?

From a retailer perspective, the EA product is inferior. A retailer communicates that to his customers by buying it back for less, or bury it otherwise. There is even a risk that with the new console generation chains such as Gamestop decide to primarily stock and advertise games which do not have online passes, hence causing better value proposition when buying back and reselling them.

Posted:11 months ago

#17

Joćo Namorado
Project Manager

50 16 0.3
@Tim

This has nothing to do with consumers complaining. They just didn't buy the online passes. And EA listened with their wallets; if consumers are not buying online passes AND because of that they are fewer of them buying DLC or just populating game servers, then it makes no sense keeping this "product".

Now I wonder if this is an indication that second hand sales actually benefit EA and other publishers. It would be interesting to see some of the hard data behind this move.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Joćo Namorado on 16th May 2013 11:30am

Posted:11 months ago

#18

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

542 528 1.0
Popular Comment
@Andreia

And i respectfully disagree with you!
It was a corporative pathetic cash grab, no consumer would like this when a grand majority buys second hand. Second hand even helps brand new buys in fact, but that's another discussion.
It might well have been a cash grab, if you want to think harshly of it. But the fact is the digital market presents an oddity in the second hand market, as there is no devaluation. A used copy of Mass Effect will play exactly the same as a new copy (unless the disc is scratched but that's a different issue).
If i buy a car (or any other physical commodity) second hand, i have devaluation. The engine won't be at full horse power anymore, tires will be worn, seats won't be new etc. - this is the reason the price is dropped and as a buyer of a used product i expect that.

In some cases, like used cars, the original manufacturer also "cashes" in with continued services, spare parts etc.

The digital industry does not have that luxury at all. The only entity making a profit from not only selling, but actively promoting used copies is retail. The customer actually often is an after thought (i.e. right now a used copy of Bioshock costs me 93% of the full price of a new copy - not really what i would call a big save, but all the profit goes to GAME in this case).

EA tried a different approach, one that does not harm original customers at all, often actually valuing them by giving them something extra in a new box (with an additional one time use code). And those that bought second hand KNEW about the online pass and retailers had to factor that in - so in the end a buyer of a used EA game still saved a quid or 2 compares to a new copy, even after puchase of the online pass.
Apparently not, not even a dent in the 2nd hand market, as this very withdrawal measure demonstrates.
It would be hard to measure this. But i feel if more publishers would have picked this up the impact might well have been significant.

@Brian: you have a good point there, and i can only talk from my own (and thus limited) experience. I never had problems finding people online in ME3 and i lent my copy to a friend who bought the online pass to play online. So i think it depends on the game and the community to begin with. I.e. games with good and active community would probably have no issues (FIFA, BF, ME etc.).

here are some thoughts on used games and value of entertainment: http://notplayed.com/2013/05/05/let-me-entertain-you-and-pay-me/

(the post before this one is about hating EA incidentally)

Posted:11 months ago

#19

Paul Shirley
Programmers

165 131 0.8
If you take "player response to online passes was poor" at face value, you have a system with negligible direct advantage to EA because players didn't use it. Those players had a lesser experience and that impression sticks.

EA managed to devalue their brand for many users. Those users might not be directly profitable but they have knockon effects on the profitable users. They're probably also less likely to buy new from EA in the future.

If punishing users damages your brand and also doesn't achieve it's aim, only an idiot would continue doing it.

Posted:11 months ago

#20

Alec Dunn
Senior Technical Consultant

2 1 0.5
>> It had no other impact.

You see it DID have another impact. As a consumer with only moderate time for online components I was left with a choice that, when I bought an EA game, did I actually activate the online pass or did I just play what I could and then sell it on for more money than I would have got if the pass had been used. Essentially this system helped DEVALUE a brand new product for me. How is that a good thing? Instead of just enjoying the game I paid for I had to make judgement call as to whether I'd enjoy it more if I sacrificed some 2nd hand value.

I don't have infinite cash but I do want to play many games, selling on helps me buy more content first hand.

Posted:11 months ago

#21

Kevin Clark-Patterson
Lecturer in Games Development

288 23 0.1
Is this in search of lightening their 'bad image' perception problem...

Posted:11 months ago

#22

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,203 816 0.7
It discouraged the purchase of used games, but it screwed over the consumer who supports the products and paid full price for it. They ended up paying close $80-$100 per game. This news is a sigh of relief for me, cause at the end of the day I like many of EA's games and I really dread any methods they have of juicing more money from the player who paid full price. I just get sick and tired of how they penny the shit outta gamers and plan all these schemes to get more per game.

As much as I wanted to purchase BioShock infinite the online pass or season pass prevented me from buying it. $60+season pass+taxes+plus any additional DLC that might be offered in the future, then forget it. We are talking around $100. I simply cant afford that. And I wont pay $60 for a half assed game. Either give me the complete package or I wont buy it. Ill either buy it used or at a reduced price well after the release of the game, to see how all the stuff with DLC pans out. Thats what I have been doing, so far Ive been able to own and play as many games as I have because of this. And unless the game had a low print run or its very hard to find, I usually buy it new at a reduced price.

I would however propose company simply gave additional content for free to gamers who paid for the full game and have gamers who buy a used copy pay for any additional content.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 16th May 2013 12:52pm

Posted:11 months ago

#23

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

542 528 1.0
@Rick: please explain to me how the online pass screwed over someone who paid full price (with that i take it you mean full price for a new copy).

Take Mass Effect 3:

- New copy costs 60 USD
- contains online pass code (one time use, no charge)
- contains extra weapons and armor code (one time use, no charge)

End cost: 60 USD.

If you are talking about DLC (which you seem to do with the Bioshock example) then that's a different animal alltogether. Are you truely suggesting that all DLC should be free, all content should be shipped with the initial game? What about those that make the content? Should they not get paid for the work they put in so that you can be entertained for a few hours? What is entertainment worth to you?

Paid for DLC has never been linked to the online pass. And DLC is additional content. It's what add-on packs were (and are) on PC. Surely you can't expect the developer to keep working (and supporting) a game and bringing out new content and not charge for it, just because you feel you can't afford it. (again pricing of games and DLC is yet another different animal).

It is your perogative, as a consumer, to not buy a product that you feel has no value. It is also your perogative to purchase used products, but just like with physical used product, you should expect some kind of drawback.

Essentially, the way i read your statement, is you want to consume as much entertainment as you possibly can for as little expense as you can get away with. And that's ok, because all the money goes to greedy publishers like EA anyway right? The studios and developers would not see a dime more, if you paid full price, right? Well as someone who worked for both publisher and developer - that's not the case. Every copy sold at full price, every DLC purchased, counts. It's what keeps us developers in our jobs, making (hopefully) good experiences.

Posted:11 months ago

#24

Lewis Brown
Snr Sourcer/Recruiter

194 41 0.2
Whatever you think of EA this is a good thing for the consumer lets not forget that.

Personally I don't have a problem paying Ubi or Sony for an online pass if I pick up a game second hand. Although only for the multiplayer aspect as I know that has costs around running the MP offering as a service, while the single player aspect incurs no more costs so that shouldnt have any restrictions. This is a personal opinion though.

Posted:11 months ago

#25

Lindsay Cox
Unity Developer

29 48 1.7
DLC and Season pass, etc has nothing to do with this. As other posters have said this is EXTRA content (they are essentially digital expansion packs right?). Regarding the online pass, I thought it was a good idea to combat the preowned market and like many have said if you bought the game new then you got this for free and also quite often some dlc bundled in with is as well. If you have issues with paying $60 or £40 then just wait until the price goes down. For most games it is a couple of months later and they are cheaper (there are the obvious exceptions, e.g. COD). Consumers usually get a raw deal with recently released preowned games anyway. In my PERSONAL opinion, micro transactions are not the way forward in an already £40 title. They are fine if the game is free already (like many freemium and free 2 play games) however as a consumer I would feel cheated if a lot of cool stuff is locked out after I had spent my £40 on the game. I don't think this is a good thing for the consumer as we will see more premium games with needless micro transactions that lock out stuff that should be in the game already. And consumers will realise this and just not buy the game.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Lindsay Cox on 16th May 2013 1:51pm

Posted:11 months ago

#26
The sooner retail dies the better and then all these issues will be moot.

Posted:11 months ago

#27

Joćo Namorado
Project Manager

50 16 0.3
@Andreas

A game with online pass is devalued for someone who buys a new copy because that someone will get less money for it when they try to sell it second hand. It's that simple.

We can debate on whether second hand sales are good or bad and have different opinions about it but for the consumer who is low on cash and hoping to get some cash back on a game to help buy the next the online pass clearly devaluates the game.

I'm more inclined to think this measure was bad for everyone instead of good for everyone, in view of EA's move.

Cheers!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Joćo Namorado on 16th May 2013 4:13pm

Posted:11 months ago

#28

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

542 528 1.0
@Joćo: So what do you expect when you return a game to the store, after playing it? 95% of the money back? 75%? I don't mean that in a bad way, i am curious.

Again, take Mass Effect 3. Just the single player. Say you play through the critical path, and take care of a few side missions in a weekend. Say you get 10 hours of gameplay out of it. You bought the game for 60 USD - how much do you want back? How much devaluation is ok for 10 hours of entertainment?

If you buy a brand new car, it devalues by 10% the moment you drive off the sales lot. Everything depreciates with use, just not digital content. and it is THAT fact that puts publishers and developers in a peculiar spot.

Same as it is Rick's perogativ to buy used products, it is your perogativ to sell your games. But i don't think you should be able to expect a whole lot back. Additionally, if you buy a game with an online pass in the first place, you are aware of it. You make a conscious decission to buy it, despite it having an online pass. At that point you can't really complain anymore. It's a bit of a worn statement now, but if you don't like it, don't buy it.

Perhaps the problem here really is that people WANT a lot of entertainment, but don't want to spend money on it (or can't afford it) - who presses you to buy all these games at full price? is anyone holding a gun to your head saying "BUY ALL GAMES!"? As Lindsay points out, you can wait till the price drops. Maybe then there would not even be a need to re-sell it?

Posted:11 months ago

#29

Spencer Franklin
Concept Artist

90 120 1.3
@Andreas Gschwari
"you can wait till the price drops. Maybe then there would not even be a need to re-sell it?"

You have a point with this, I think. I can tell you that many people do (myself included) wait until the price drops to purchase, especially on games with Day one DLC, and other later DLC. I'll wait for the goty edition, which will include ALL the DLC, at half the price of the original game alone. But is this what your studio, or any other would want people to do? Seems this would have a negative affect on the publishers/Devs bottom line in the long run... just a thought. Also... if they really want to slow the 2nd hand stuff, why not stop charging people full physical retail prices for a digital download... I've never understood that practice, and a big reason why I don't purchase digital.

In any case, I'm seeing a lot of the types of games I like going the Kickstarter route, and for me, this is something I can really get behind, greedy publishers/Devs business practices be damned (not pointing out anyone specific, but you know who you are).

Posted:11 months ago

#30
I don't get the number of people crowing about this like some sort of major victory. I've not seen a huge (or even medium sized) campaign to drop Online Pass like there was with the ME3 ending or the SimCity launch.

Even if there had been such a campaign, I fail to see the point of deriding EA for changing an apparently unpopular policy. Customers complain and say "Why don't EA change this thing?", EA changes it and customers say "HAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA".

Between SimCIty, Mass Effect and now this EA actually has (in my personal opinion) a pretty good record of making significant changes in an attempt to appease what seems like an impossibly fussy fanbase. Still, one of the many benefits I've found from working for EA is that you soon learn to grow a thick skin when reading internet comments.

Posted:11 months ago

#31

Christopher Bowen
Editor in Chief

393 503 1.3
@Andreas:

Take Mass Effect 3:

- New copy costs 60 USD
- contains online pass code (one time use, no charge)
- contains extra weapons and armor code (one time use, no charge)


I bolded the part I want to focus on. That is a reward. That is something that gives an incentive to people who purchase new games. "Thank you for buying our product new! Here, have some good things!"

The online pass itself provides literally zero benefit; there is no benefit, only loss (at a minimum, it is a loss of time, which is less acceptable to some than others). When online passes began for EA Sports games with the '11 series, those games had the same exact online features as their predecessors, with the difference being that used gamers were getting locked out. There is no benefit; whereas the weapons referenced above are a carrot, an online pass is a stick, being used to punish those that didn't play by the publisher's rules. "You bought used? Well, screw you! We're taking this away!"

I've heard people mention that it's OK for them to do this because they provide the online services; why should "freeloaders" (who still paid $55 instead of $60 under the old system, but these are apparently Bad People) be allowed to jump onboard? That would make *some* sense if games weren't being intentionally designed to feature online play as a passive form of DRM in the first place. This is especially notable when considering that EA rotates their online servers (for sports games, at least) out every two years. Therefore, someone who bought an online pass for Madden or FIFA '11, today, gets literally zero benefit, as those servers are gone. "Thank you for paying! Now, make sure to pay again this year, as your old game is a coaster now!"

Posted:11 months ago

#32

Anthony Chan

83 68 0.8
With the advent of Online gaming, where the online portion of the game is viewed as important (or sometimes even more important) than the single player game, 2nd hand game sales are a bigger issue. Development costs now must include recurring costs to maintain servers for online play.

The online pass was definitely a good idea. It only "punished" those who tried to buy and sell games 2nd hand. Also, the online pass only made a difference to those who wanted to play online but at the same time wanted to "cheap out" buying second hand. And TBH, publishers and developers owe NOTHING to these gamers. The money coming from their wallet does not directly support the developer or publisher, only the reseller. Why cater to this group at all? Yes publishers might be able to gain kudo points with gamers for supporting 2nd hand gaming, and yes they support the spirit of gaming with such mentality, but at the end, they did not make money off these gamers. Making games is a business. Yes games need to be fun and great. But they also need to make money of each copy sold - and hopefully bring developers out of the red.

Now my biggest worry, is this: EA is all about the money, so what is next on their idea list. If they plan to monetize by introducing pay to win microtransactions into their games, that would be far worse than online passes. Because so far many of EA's microtransaction policies do not just punish the 2nd hand gamer, they also punish the ones who bought a copy on day 1.

Posted:11 months ago

#33

Christopher Thigpen
Lead Producer

47 92 2.0
Yes EA. As we have all stated, the cash grab, price gouging that you showcased with your Online Pass was an abysmal failure.

Obvious in it's non-consumer friendly gouging. Obtuse in the way you try to handle used sales.

Ignorance is no excuse for anti-consumerism. Greed was the bottom-line.

Posted:11 months ago

#34

Temi
Web design

48 9 0.2
There's the possibility that an alternative will come with the next generation of consoles so that this was no longer necessary, in the future. The problem hasn't gone, so a new solution is likely going to be sought after. This is EA after all.

Posted:11 months ago

#35

Barrie Tingle
Live Producer

337 103 0.3
no consumer would like this when a grand majority buys second hand.
That was exactly why online pass existed.
It discouraged the purchase of used games, but it screwed over the consumer who supports the products and paid full price for it. They ended up paying close $80-$100 per game.
In what way did it screw over the new game purchase? The price of games didn't increase when Online Pass was introduced. Games in the US are still $60 same as they have been all generation of consoles.

From the following paragraph it looks like you are confusing Online Pass for the Season Pass. This article is about the Online Pass to try to reduce used game market impact by unlocking multiplayer for a fee. Season Pass is possibly one of the better things in the games industry right now, buy all your PDLC up front and save on the total cost.

Posted:11 months ago

#36

David Serrano
Freelancer

280 245 0.9
@Klaus Preisinger

Exactly. In all likelihood, EA killed the program because it didn't generate a ROI... period. EA cares about the opinions of consumers in the same way cattle ranchers care about the happiness of livestock.

Posted:11 months ago

#37

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,203 816 0.7
@Andreas Gschwari

Honestly…. I confused the online pass for the season pass found in games for other companies. Im ok with the online pass being free for new games and for it to cost a small amount for used games. However my fear is that this will be used to lock other features of the game. So I can't completely support it.
"Are you truely suggesting that all DLC should be free, all content should be shipped with the initial game? What about those that make the content? Should they not get paid for the work they put in so that you can be entertained for a few hours? What is entertainment worth to you?"
============> No, but the topic of DLC is a mixed bag. But a lot of times I disagree in how its handled. EA and CAPCOM being the worst culprits. And to most people entertainment is only worth what they can afford. As much as a person may want something, if they can't afford it, they can't have it simple as that. This also fuels piracy. So yeah go ahead and sell games for $100. Cause between, DLC, season passes and in game purchases thats what it seems like. My comment about giving DLC for free to consumers who bought the game new was a suggestion. Im assuming that the DLC would still make money on people who bought the game used. However if the number of people who bought used games isn't as much as people who buy the game new or the number of used game purchases isn't that much this would not help. But then I don't understand why the used games market would be an issue. However if your gonna sell DLC to people who bought the game new at least keep the prices a bit moderate. And also timing is critical. Don't sell 3 packs of $20 DLC right after the game is released. Its gonna piss a lot of people off. However if the content is actually in development, then it will take a while to be released, leaving people to enjoy the original game fully, then put away to collect dust until the new DLC arrives. If the content is in development and the content is of substantial amount then it may be worth something in the eyes of the consumer.
"Essentially, the way i read your statement, is you want to consume as much entertainment as you possibly can for as little expense as you can get away with. "
============>Yup, Thats pretty much it and I think most people think the same way I do. If a game developer can get away with selling a game for $500 I bet they would.
"And that's ok, because all the money goes to greedy publishers like EA anyway right? The studios and developers would not see a dime more, if you paid full price, right?"
============> Thats not the consumers problem, what they see is the end products price tag. I think alot of things on the business end is screwed up. I find alot of things unfair to the developer and disagree with alot of things publishers do. The relationship between publisher and developer is a very difficult one. If I were a developer, id try everything possible to remain independent. Bungie, Valve, Notch Development remain independent and have been pretty successful. Well Bungie is at least working on one, and they had a push from microsoft but things panned out nicely for both companies. Worst case scenario I would seek to partner up with smaller publishers, who can maybe do a business deal with the studio that is not so draconian, as I assume it might be with a big publisher like EA.
"- New copy costs 60 USD
- contains online pass code (one time use, no charge)
- contains extra weapons and armor code (one time use, no charge)
End cost: 60 USD."
============> Sorry, take the from ashes DLC which was pretty essential to the main story and no, the game did not come out to 60$ unless you were ok with a half assed version of the game, the end cost was not $60…. I felt they held it out purposely.

@anybody--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

OFF TOPIC for anybody interested in my thoughts regarding aspects of the game industry:

Talking about ME3 and EA is like opening a can of worms, so Im just gonna point out a few things

What im against is companies selling you additional content after you purchase full price for a game or content that already shipped with the game or charge for content that was purposly left out to then charge you additionally for it. You dont buy a movie to have to pay extra to watch the ending or other scenes. And YES I confused the Online pass for the season pass found in other games from other companies, like Bioshock. However since you mention ME3 and we are talking about EA...

If the success of a game warrents DLC, I dont mind. I was pretty happy with the ME3, Leviathen, Omega and Citidel DLC I BOUGHT THEM ALL!!!!. And alot of those DLC, felt more like a response to the fans, it didnt feel shoehorned in, or kept back from the original game to then charge for it later. They had great production value and were well made. However I was unhappy about the From Ashes DLC that I felt it should have been part of the game. Walking dead worked. They sold you the game in episodes... but how much did each episode cost? Pretty good price I say. I bought the disc version with all the episodes for $30 when it came out. I wouldnt have done it if it would cost me $100, plus EA really went the extra mile and offered loads of free multiplayer DLC. EA made many mistakes with ME3, but they went pretty far in fixing the problem and made some money too. So if you look at what they did with ME3 between costs, demand and content they really made a lot of ME3 fans happy.

And sure you can sell games for $200 dollars. SONY sold the VITA at $300-$350, how many people went out to buy it? The Neo Geo failed because they sold the console and games at outrageous prices.

Im not happy with having to pay extra money to gain access to things that are already in the game or make a game frustratingly hard in order to make people buy content. Id love game developers to make, money, unfortunatly I dont agree with alot of the methods used to make that happen.

And sure you can sell games at obscenely high prices. Lets see how many people rush to buy it vs. people who would buy it if it was cheaper.

And I think people do want to be able to enjoy things for the least amount of money possible, and price is an issue. And when developing a game, thats something to consider when designing it.

I just bought Dragon Dogma: Dark Arisen for $40... It came with the original game. Capcom did really good with that one. No i don't agree that game developers should be poor and give things for free. However I think they should search for alternative business models and methods to produce games which isn't adding 100 people to there staff every year and inflating everything.

Tomb Raider sold very well over 4million in just a few weeks and it was still called a failure(didn't meet sales expectations) well if you hope to sell 10million copies then good luck. However we have an article on this website "BioShock Infinite hits 3.7 million, boosts Take-Two sales"

Wanna stop piracy, wanna stop used games sales? I think a lot of what the video game industry does is fuel it.

Posted:11 months ago

#38

David Serrano
Freelancer

280 245 0.9
@Christopher Bowen

And... the huge companies like EA, Activision, Ubisoft, etc... should have reward programs for consumers who purchase multiple titles. Because added value builds brand loyalty, not PR spin and nickel-and-diming consumers.

Posted:11 months ago

#39

Joćo Namorado
Project Manager

50 16 0.3
@Andreas

I'm not saying your reasoning is incorrect. I'm just saying that a consumer will not analyse it that (logical) way. That's just psychology: Even if the consumer is not planning to sell the game back second hand they will still see it as being less valuable IF they would ever want to do it. I don't think logic plays a relevant part in this process :) There doesn't have to be any real tear and wear on the product. Hence, the failure of the online pass initiative (though I did mention I wish we could see the data behind EA's decision, this is just speculation).

Please note I'm speaking in general terms. I personally prefer to collect the games, so I don't return them to the store. Don't even know how much money I would get from them. I also don't have that much free time for gaming these days, so I'm cool with waiting for price drops and foregoing the multiplayer part of many games. But the fact that I collect the games is not very logical either: I won't be playing most of them ever again so I'd be better off reselling them.

@Andreas, @Spencer
"you can wait till the price drops. Maybe then there would not even be a need to re-sell it?"
Yes, I do think there is some "consumer greed" in that gamers want their games as soon as they are launched. I know I do :) Marketing surely has an effect here.

Cheers!

Posted:11 months ago

#40

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

542 528 1.0
Ok some good replies, and well done all round for keeping it civil :)

a few replies directed at me, so i will take them in order!

@Spencer: i can't speak for my studio, while i do have to have the tag of it here to be registered and i am proud of who i work for, i don't represent my company here. the views are my own. That said, i personally would prefer to get less money 6 months after launch from someone buying the GOTY edition, than to get nothing when someone purchases a used copy 2 weeks after the game was launched. My GAME store is full of used Bioshock copies. If/when they re-sell all the profit goes to GAME. Irrational will not see a dime. My guess is they would prefer higher lifetimes sales, even at reduced prices after a while.

@Christopher: I never said the online pass had any benefits for the a first hand buyer. But it also has no drawback at all. If you consider the 1 minute time investment to enter the code too much work, i dont really know what to say to that.

As i said, if you really want to ride the point, you might well call it a stick. A drawback and even a money grab. But it only affects those who buy second hand, and even if they spend the 10 dollars for an online pass they will STILL be saving money compared to a new copy, so the drawback is NOT a punishment (it would be punishment if a used copy+online pass would cost more than a new copy).

In the Mass Effect example you could actually be far better of again. Because it requires an online pass, GAME and other retailers will sell a used copy cheaper than a similar game not requiring an online pass. If you happen to ONLY want to play the single player, you dont need an online pass, so you can save yourself the 10 USD as well. But if you WANT to play online, then surely 10 USD for the additional countless hours of entertainment you receive are warranted no?

But even if you don't agree with any of this, what would your solution be then? I would be very interested to hear how you would propose to either curb second hand sales, or make sure developers get something from them. As articles and comments on here (and elsewhere) have shown in the last months, going always-on (full digital distribution) is not an acceptable option either. Short of retail agreeing a deal with publishers, i don't see what can be done.

@Rick Yeah Online Pass is not season pass - but there ya go :)

DLC is an interesting topic. It's interesting because most people on this site should know the reality of games development. Which is that content gets half finished and then cut because it can't be finished in time for gold or submission. What to do with that content? In the old days of console gameing (prior to DLC) that content simply got deleted or, in a best case scenario, it was re-used for the next game. DLC allows developers to use the content, content that cost time, blood, sweat, tears and money to make, and build something more out of it that can then be sold as an add on pack. Not only that, but after alpha it is not unusual to rotate a large part of the development team off a project - what should those people do? sit around and drink coffee? better if they produce more content which can be submitted simultaneously with the main game and come out at or close to launch.

Most people working in the industry should know this. They should have done this at least once by now if working on a console game. Day 1 DLC is rarely (if ever) malicious. Yes it is there to generate more profit, no denying that, but it is not done to rip people off.

As a side note: i played ME3 without "Ashes" DLC first, and while i liked it when i did play it, i did not think it was essential (but that's personal preference of course).

@Rick and Joćo (you both make a similar point):
I get your point about not wanting to pay much. I am, of course, in the same boat. I prefer to pay less for more. But then again i am writing here on an industry forum, where i am not necessarily speaking about what i want for my personal life, but rather what is good for us as an industry. I have worked for studios that closed, teams that got laid off and teams that got shrunk down - not all due to second hand sales of course, but due to the fact that games did not generate enough money. So what i want to see is more money generated, teams kept on and more amazing games to be delivered to an ever growing audience.

So from that point of view, i feel the online pass was a good thing. If it would have been picked up more publishers i feel it would have made a big difference. As an industry we need to look at a lot of things to cut production cost, retain customers and deliver quality products they want to pay for. But we also need to make sure that second hand sales (which i believe is worse than piracy) is cut, or that publishers and developers get a cut.

Posted:11 months ago

#41

Patrick Williams
Medicine and Research

93 61 0.7
Part of the problem with the online passes wasn't only that it annoyed customers into buying new or chipping in to the publishers for used games, its that the experience was less convenient than just putting a code into the system. For example, with Mass Effect and Dragon Age, you had to sign up for multiple accounts at EA and Bioware. The process was time consuming, obtuse and prone to failure, leading to complaints and unnecessary frustrations for customers trying to get their bonuses in game and across games. It is unfortunate that "customers not buying into it" was more literal where EA wasn't making money / increasing sales from this approach than it was about improving the customer experience.

Posted:11 months ago

#42

Christopher Bowen
Editor in Chief

393 503 1.3
@Andreas:

But even if you don't agree with any of this, what would your solution be then? I would be very interested to hear how you would propose to either curb second hand sales, or make sure developers get something from them. As articles and comments on here (and elsewhere) have shown in the last months, going always-on (full digital distribution) is not an acceptable option either. Short of retail agreeing a deal with publishers, i don't see what can be done.

Honestly? It seems the market is doing that already. Look at Steam. Look at Nintendo's digital sales for their bigger games (such as Fire Emblem). Look at the success of Day 1 Digital. None of these services allow any kind of second hand trade market - Nintendo's setup in particular is onerous in case you lose, damage or have your 3DS stolen - but they also offer services (and in Steam's case, sales) that make the trade-off worth it. What EA, and to a more extreme extent (based on rumour) Microsoft are/were trying to do is take that trade-off people have willingly made on these services, and either force people to their own service through force (Origin) or take away the advantages of physical ownership (the benefit of the first sale doctrine in America) with none of the advantages that Steam and others give.

Posted:11 months ago

#43

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

542 528 1.0
So essentially Steam = good and EA/Microsoft = bad? :)

I agree, digital distribution is the way forward. I have no problems with Origin and i think competition is good for Steam - i would argue that nobody is forcing anyone to use any service. As far as i remember EA tried to work something out with Valve to publish games on both platforms - that just never happened. But if people dislike Origin, they don't have to use it.

With regards to physical copies though, primarily for consoles, what would you suggest should happen to deal with second hand sales in a better way?

Posted:11 months ago

#44

John Thomason
Studying Computer Science

3 0 0.0
Well big props to you EA!
Now if you can remove the "DLC authentication" checker you have in ME3 you'll be on your way to greatness. And then we can have a chat about Sim City's online DRM....

Posted:11 months ago

#45

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,374 1,021 0.7
Very interesting comments... Not a lot more I can add, but I will correct this, from Andreas:
As far as i remember EA tried to work something out with Valve to publish games on both platforms - that just never happened.
Not quite true... Valve wanted all DLC available on Steam, for all games sold on Steam. EA didn't want to give up a cut to Valve to do this, so let their titles lapse out of contract. Which leads us on to...
But if people dislike Origin, they don't have to use it.
But they do... Mass Effect 3, Sim City 2013, BF3 and 4. Dead Space 3. All require Origin. The point Christopher is making is that EA (and MS) don't seem to want (or know how) to give consumers value for nothing, whereas Valve do (witness the silly Trading Card game beta on Steam). There may be cost-implications for consumers in the distance for Valve/Steam users, but right now, it's just... Fun.

This also goes to (kind of) answer Christoper Garratty's comment above:
Between SimCIty, Mass Effect and now this EA actually has (in my personal opinion) a pretty good record of making significant changes in an attempt to appease what seems like an impossibly fussy fanbase.
The issue with EA making these changes, is that there is no-one on God's Green Earth who believes that EA does things just to "appease what seems like an impossibly fussy fanbase". EA aren't that kind of company. They're not the company who does random events or pro-consumer drives. They're a company totally and utterly driven by their desire to generate revenue. And whilst this is fine and dandy - it is a business - it does mean that they will never be treated as a company that loves gaming, or gamers.

I do note that the quote "We've listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward." in the article specifically does not mention consumers. Tthough it is implied from the preceding "many players didn't respond to the format", it is an entirely new sentence; presumably GameStop et al had quite a bit of feedback that EA are listening to.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 16th May 2013 11:17pm

Posted:11 months ago

#46

Tim Browne
Lead Game Designer

21 40 1.9
@David Serrano

"And... the huge companies like EA, Activision, Ubisoft, etc... should have reward programs for consumers who purchase multiple titles. Because added value builds brand loyalty, not PR spin and nickel-and-diming consumers."

I'm not sure about the others but Ubisoft does reward players who purchase multiple titles. We have UPlay which has built in reward systems and then for Assassin's Creed multiplayer we have different levels of loyalty rewards depending on which previous titles you own.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Browne on 17th May 2013 10:37am

Posted:11 months ago

#47

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

730 410 0.6
Let's face it - EA probably never got enough money from this scheme compared to hosting the servers and having the payment options in place for the very few people who would have paid to unlock $10 "worth" of content.

[edit] I should clarify that the statement from EA is not misleading or misapplied as some other people are suggesting but that it is the purest (and mostly only) form of customer feedback. i.e. Not spending money on something! :D

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 17th May 2013 12:27pm

Posted:11 months ago

#48

Mariusz Szlanta
Producer

16 13 0.8
James,

Isn't it a perfect rationale to retire business feature, especially if another, more promising, is around?

I was never a fan of online passes. They devalue product, give customer second thoughts when considering transaction and are bad for market penetration and brand awarness.

Microtransactions have none of it and can be adjusted on the fly.

Tim,

It would be great to see more features in UPlay. Ubi games on Steam now launches twice and redirect to UPlay app. It adds some lag between clicking Play and actually starting playing. For that, I can get some nice in game content but nothing that really fires me up. Wish to see discounts unlockable by game time played/activity or progressive rewards for in game challenges.

Posted:11 months ago

#49

David Serrano
Freelancer

280 245 0.9
@Tim Browne

I wasn't aware Uplay offered rewards for buying multiple titles. Probably because I stopped playing multiplayer in 2010 lol. But I've unlocked the single player rewards in the games I've played. So yes, Uplay is an example of the type of program all large companies should have. I'd like to see Ubisoft expand it to include other types of rewards and I think the progression requirements for unlocking single player items can be counterproductive, but it's still a good added value program for consumers.

Posted:11 months ago

#50

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