EA: Project $10 saw over 70% of new buyers redeem code

Goal is to "stop consumers thinking game begins and ends with the disc"; second hand uptake in "low single digits"

EA has said that over 70 per cent of new purchasers of Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age: Origins and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 went online to redeem their Project $10 bonus codes, while the number of consumers purchasing the code for the used copy a game was a "low single digit percentage".

But COO John Schappert said that the aim of moves such as Project $10, and EA's just-announced Online Pass, was to stop consumers thinking the game began and ended with the disc and to encourage them online, where they'd find even more bonus content.

Speaking at a call to investors following the release of EA's year-end financials, Schappert said: "We saw that by giving people this access code we got them into the online world and so we saw very very strong uptake in downloadable content across all of those titles because we had content available from day one and because we seeded it with a bonus token."

"That is really our drive with our online pass," he added.

"Invariably the consumer is getting a boat-load more content than they otherwise would," explained CFO Eric Brown. "We used to pull people off games 4-6 weeks pre-ship and they'd go to work or something else because the game was done.

"Our teams are [now] being held in place through and beyond ship and they continue to create content and entertain the consumer with new content associated with the IP they like.

"This is why we believe we can successfully go from 73 or 75 titles three short years ago to 36 titles - halving our title count and retaining our revenue.

"By generating more revenue per IP, by extending our business model into subscriptions, into micro transactions, into downloadable content and then into new platforms like social networks or putting our IP out through Pogo or building directed services like Tiger Online, FIFA Online and Battefield Online."

Brown said the company had been preparing the Online Pass for "the best part of 18 months" and that the infrastructure just hadn't been ready in order for it to introduce the scheme in time for the World Cup.

The infrastructure and databases had "not been simple to build," he said, adding that EA hadn't wanted to make mistakes.

On the subject of retailers, he said that they would ultimately find a way to participate, pointing out that GameStop was supporting the move while the majority of retailers were also behind it.

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Latest comments (22)

Tommy Thompson Studying Artificial Intelligence (PhD), University of Strathclyde12 years ago
I would be interested to see why the remaining 30% or less did not redeem the Project $10 code. In fact it would be interesting to see if there is a correlation between the numbers that did redeem with the numbers playing on Xbox Live/PSN that did not need the used-copy code. Is it simply that this remaining percentage could not redeem the code online, or is there a fundamental lack of understanding at the consumer level? While there are probably some interesting statistics that could be brought to light, sadly I doubt we'll ever see them.
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Surely its reasonable that 30% of purchasers don't play online - at all. And by not redeeming the code, the resell value of the box is higher.
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Tommy Thompson Studying Artificial Intelligence (PhD), University of Strathclyde12 years ago
You hit it right on the nose Michael. I've wondered whether it will simply lead to a new economy in second-hand sales, where the box without code goes for I guess $10 less than the one that still has it complete in the box.
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Show all comments (22)
Jason Stewart Associate Producer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe12 years ago
As a second hand buyer, how do you know the code on the back of the manual has not been redeemed before you buy?

How does the retailer buying it from the original consumer?

There is no way of knowing until you enter it and get online access or get the dreaded "This code has already been redeemed" message.

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Jason Stewart Associate Producer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe12 years ago
Just to play devil's advocate;

What if publishers start adding a scratch card kind of foil over these codes so consumers/ pre-owned retailers would know if a code has NOT been redeemed (because it's still covered).

However I have the feeling this would defeat the purpose of these online passes, which is to basically get back profit for lost sales.

To flip it completely, how about all publishers release without online enabled, and reduce the cost of every game by $10?

Surely if EA's online service (and any other publisher for that matter) is worth $10, then for those who never play online are paying $10 over the odds for the offline game they just bought (new).

Can't see that happening either ;)
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David Spender Lead Programmer 12 years ago
"This is why we believe we can successfully go from 73 or 75 titles three short years ago to 36 titles - halving our title count and retaining our revenue."

How is this a good thing for the consumer? I'd rather have 35 new original games than new armor for my horse. If anything, this just proves its all about squeezing dollars from existing customers not about second-hand sales or piracy.
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David Rider Publisher, Hustler UK12 years ago
@ Jason, I had issues with a pre-printed code last year which the game refused to recognise, so I'm not sure scratch cards are the answer, either. As far as EA reducing the cost of games is concerned, well I can't see that happening, either. Not in a market in which Activision increases the RRP of AAA titles like MW2.

Personally, I don't have an issue with Project 10 Dollar as a way for a publisher to try and recoup revenue from the second hand market. The alternatives are potentially Draconian!
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Jason Stewart Associate Producer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe12 years ago
@David - Sorry, I didn't mean they should do this. My reference to using a scratch card type of protected code on the back of a manual would be the only real way a retailer or 2nd hand buyer would be sure they were buying an un-used online access code, in response to Tommy's comment that a pre-owned box with a code could retail for more.

As you say though, it's not without it's faults. But if your code didn't work, surely you just needed to contact them. Each code is redeemed to an account, so it's easy to see if it was redeemed or just a possibly creation/printing error.

For me personally it's all a moot point as I never buy pre-owned (except when I was younger) and usually give my old titles away after I've finished with them. Purely because they can take up a lot of storage ;o)
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Kenneth Bruton Producer 12 years ago
The scratch card idea has been implemented by Microsoft with the XBL codes and content. Not a bad idea. I think that they should put the website on the card or when you boot the game then you should be given the option of the (premium) content. The Cerberus Network on Mass Effect 2 was a double edged sword, because on the one hand, you paid to get free content, plus you had to pay for the premium content, so now, I ask, what exactly were you paying for?
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Saehoon Lee Lead technical artist, Kuno Interactive12 years ago
EA should make that $10 code voucher to be resellable by the owners who don't care about the online contents or any other bonus contents offered by it. To be honest, it should just be optional and then make the actual price of the game cheaper by $10. Then, I will like it.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend12 years ago
I am opposed to this whole project and think it is driven by pure greed, nothing else. If EA made great games and didn't release sub standard franchise crap then they wouldn't be losing over 700m a year if you ask me. (Of course not all their games are franchise or crap, but a large majority are simply cash cows to milk their customers)

I think it is outrageous that they can actually justify their 'project: fu*k the poor' by saying that they want revenue off a game they have already sold once, very bad play indeed.

You don't see any other industry doing this and I think second hand games are just like second hand cars/phones/DVD's/CD's etc; the producer sells it once to a customer (yes they make a profit on this sale) and then the buyer is allowed to sell it on afterwards without any problem or repercussions from the original seller. They have already made their cut once, why should they be allowed to do so again?

I am sure there is a UK law that covers this and stops this shameful behaviour.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 12th May 2010 5:09pm

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@Saehoon Lee, I could see how people would like that, but then EA would be accused of charging for additional content or the ability to play online(although many are already saying that).
It is more about adding value the 'new' product than creating choice(also having more SKUs or packages creates more harm than good)
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Ben Hewett Studying MA Philosophy, University of Birmingham12 years ago
@Darren Adams: Why would there be, or should there be, a law against this kind of scheme?
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Elikem Jubey12 years ago
@Darren Adams:

With CDs, labels can make their money with merchandising and touring as well as from CD sales.

With DVDs, film companies already make their money from the films in the cinema before they're put on DVD.

On all 4 examples you gave, the prices go down anyway. For the gaming industry however, prices have gone up. Ergo, your examples are flawed. Not all entertainment businesses operate the same, nor should they be.

Personally, I think Project Ten Dollar is the best idea they've come up with. Even when pre-owned games + code price end up cheaper than buying a new game over time, they still get their money, the retailer gets their money from used games, and (almost) everyone's happy.
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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 12 years ago
I find it funny that they are trying to "encourage" people to go online by charging them $10 more. Just don't know what kind of logic is that. $10 may not be much but I don't like the idea of how they try to reap the second hand market business model which they didn't develop.
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Steve Bailey Webmaster 12 years ago
I think that with EA having new games out every year at $50-$60 which are similar to the last title means there will always be a high amount of games going back into the market.
With EA Sports its wrong. If they want to stop people from trading in there old games then they should make a game such as NFL, Fifa etc and have the core game with yearly DLC to update it for the new year.
I can't see how they need more money from games that are only made for 1 year in the first place?
As for games like battlefield bad company where they charge you an extra sum of money to unlock vip access which is already on a disc that you have legaly purchased i can't see how that is legal? You either own the disc or you don't?
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Aurélien Dussalve12 years ago
Frankly, I don't see the big deal here. Sure EA will be able to get something from the second hand market but we can forecast that the prices of pre-owned games will drop due to the lack of "built-in" multiplayer. And for those who don't care about the latter, it's all good.
( Of course, having said that, I've might be missing the big picture )
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Mike Ybarra General Manager - Xbox LIVE, Microsoft12 years ago
Be interesting to see how it plays out. Certainly better than Ubisoft's attempt in this space.
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Surely the car analogies you see are wrong.

Surely its like buying a new car where you can drive it where ever you like (Single-player) but if you want to drive with others on EAs roads (multiplayer) you have to pay the car tax of $10. This is included with every new car however only applies to that first owner.

Project $10 for DLC not MP is touch harder to justify with my bad car analogy. Maybe taking it to the garage for upgrades and its $10 entrance or something...

Or I can just stop talking about cars.
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David Rider Publisher, Hustler UK12 years ago
@ Chris, I think the best car analogy is to compare the used games market that EA wants to tap into as being more like a franchised car network, where you're buying an Approved Used Car, for which you'll likely pay more for than the same model down at Honest Don's House of Rust Bucket.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend12 years ago
All good arguments which you could hark on about all day, but I still see it as a bad thing to do. This is just my personal opinion and does not mean 'hey everything I said is solid fact'; it's just what I think. If you want to pay twice to play a game you bought second hand then by all means pay your cash, you won't catch me doing it.

And as for the law, I don't actually mean 'UK LAW 08274b - EA can't do project $10', that would just be plain silly. But there is a law which protects consumers and allows them to sell items they have bought without having to give a cut to the original owner/producer.

This is just one of those agree to disagree situations; you have your views, I have mine. Just as well, otherwise it would be a very boring world indeed. ;)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 13th May 2010 8:06pm

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Andrew Crystall Designer 12 years ago

My understanding of UK law is that EA can't object if you passed the login on, and there could be a complaint brought if it was non-transferable. However, shops are not going to want to deal with the hassle of that: So what it may do is drive used sales back to more direct routes.
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