If EA Made a Shooter, Would They Charge You $1 per Bullet?

from the nickel-and-dimed dept

Electronic Arts is seen by many gamers as a lumbering monstrosity, a company that long ago gave up on innovation and now only exists to corner markets and crank out yearly sports franchises like Madden in order to nurse revenue streams. That reputation hasn't been aided lately by their decisions to try and charge gamers for everything and anything via Microsoft's Xbox Live broadband gaming network. The recent push has included charging for cheat codes, how-to video tutorials, and extra in game goodies. Next generation games now cost $60 a pop, and if a gamer wants all related game content, they can sometimes face shelling out nearly $100.

EA's microtransactions have clearly annoyed gamers, who say they're being nickel and dimed to death. For instance EA charged gamers $1.25 for a virtual gun that won't work unless you pony up in-game virtual cash to buy it. If you lack the virtual funds, EA will gladly charge you real world money to get more. Defending these kind of dizzying double transactions this week, EA's CEO insists that the cost of game development these days requires such tactics. While charging extra for worthwhile content is fine, double charging gamers or charging them for services that have been traditionally free is obnoxious and sleazy. Where does it end? Sony recently tried to pitch the idea of a carless racing game where you were forced to buy each individual car. Are we heading for a future where massive gaming companies try to charge gamers for bug-fixing patches and other necessary upgrades?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Dan, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 1:55pm

    Penny-Arcade has a great comic about this: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/11/15

     

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  2.  
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    chris (profile), Dec 4th, 2006 @ 2:00pm

    penny arcade said it best...

    it's in the game... that you already bought last year.

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/11/15

     

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  3.  
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    chris (profile), Dec 4th, 2006 @ 2:01pm

    DAMMIT!

    beaten by 5 minutes

     

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  4.  
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    Solo, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 2:14pm

    "EA's CEO insists that the cost of game development these days requires such tactics."

    Nice justification. The real reason is because they can. If the market supports it, you're silly not to charge as much. EA is there to make a profit, and if they can squeeze more money out of "gamers" by nickel and diming them, they will.

    Starbucks always raises their prices and justifies it with "rising cost of milk". Do I get a price break because I want soy milk? nope. Same idea.

     

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  5.  
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    Notorius, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 2:26pm

    "Defending these kind of dizzying double transactions this week, EA's CEO insists that the cost of game development these days requires such tactics."

    What development? Updating player stats and jersey colors for "(Sports league here) '07"? Adding some cars and re-adding game-modes for NFS: Carbon? Modding BF1942 and calling it BF2142?

     

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  6.  
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    KnyghtMare, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 2:47pm

    I feel that they got it right with BF2142 as opposed to this kinda thing.

    Ads in game aren't so bad when you get something for it, and server upkeep for 2142 is worth it, plus the Dice Live team seem to actually do a good job.

    Making you pay alot more money for stuff that should be in the game will make people go to other games and/or other consoles. If said game is on PS2/3 or PC without the limitations then they will flee the XB360.

    If they added *bonus* content for the XB360 version, left all the original game content intact, and allowed you to buy the bonus stuff, the incentives, maybe that would work better for them without the public outcry.

     

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  7.  
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    pandlcg, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 3:26pm

    The Worst Part

    The part about EA charging real money for the virtual money is particularly annoying. This is because there was a cheat code gamers could use to get more money in the Xbox version that was stripped out of the 360 version specifically so EA could do this type of microtransaction.

     

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  8.  
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    Norm, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 3:28pm

    Real-world money imbalances online equality

    I don't much approve of this tactic. It seemes like they just want to squeeze every possible penny out of you. I would attribute it to supporting the "lumbering monstrosity" that EA has become rather then "cost of game development". Also, for any game that has online play, these transactions can destabalize the online game economy/equality.

    Chinese gold farmers anyone?

    (Yes I know WOW is blizzard, just making a point)

     

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  9.  
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    DogWings, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 3:29pm

    Stop Hitting Yourself

    They will keep doing it as long as people pay for it. As a business, they would be stupid not to. The good news is that nobody is holding a gun (even a virtual one) to your head and forcing you to give EA your money.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 3:38pm

    Yeah!

     

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  11.  
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    CougIt, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 3:46pm

    Hmm...yes blame development not the business model

    Subject says its all...

     

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  12.  
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    B, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 4:04pm

    EA...

    "Chinese gold farmers anyone?

    (Yes I know WOW is blizzard, just making a point)"
    -Norm


    Chinese farmers have been around in most MMORPGs especially ones pre-dating WoW... WoW is a terrible MMORPG but that's another subject.

    And on the point:
    The worst part of this is people will pay for this. There will always be people paying for stuff like this. Like the PS3, people would rather pay $10,000+ instead of waiting an extra month or two. Instead of spending an extra hour or so earning "virtual cash", people would rather pay for it with real cash. The real dilemma is when companies make people pay for updates. You've got to be kidding me! I shouldn't have to shell out more money because you guys can't get something right!
    Paying for content is just as absurd. So... I pay for $60 worth of race car tracks with nothing to race on them. Extra content/updates that you have to pay for is only valid in my books if they make you cover for the transportation costs if you got a hard copy of the update/addon.
    This picture sums it all up for you:
    EA
    (may not be new, but it's true)

     

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  13.  
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    Jon, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 4:20pm

    gold farmers

    guess WoW banned some more gold farmers. Prices shot up again according to www.rpgse.com

     

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  14.  
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    Tiffany, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 4:25pm

    not to mention...

    Not to mention that I have to pay a yearly fee for the honor of being part of the XBox club...

     

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  15.  
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    Paynesmanor, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 4:25pm

    DON'T PLAY THOSE GAMES!

    If we don't play them, they won't make them. Move to a company that has games that are not like that.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 4:27pm

    Re:

    You're absolutely right.

    I'm not a die-hard gamer but that doesn't mean I wouldn't be a customer if corporate practices weren't more reasonable. As long as the majority of the gamers out there choose to support these corporate practices it'll only get worse.

    Here's an idea - boycot EA. If you purchase their crap then you apparantly enjoy getting ass-fucked in the wallet and want the rest of the world to enjoy it along with you.

     

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  17.  
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    MrPaladin, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 4:33pm

    Consumer power

    as someone mentioned above, since the resent dealings with EA and BF2 I'm not buying another one of their games unless it brings about world peace and I'm given a free copy by the newly formed universal government...

    I have the basic Battlefield2 game and I'm forced to play with people who have better game choices then me in my vanilla game because they threw extra cash into the pile...

    That and the game has only become stable again a mth or two ago because of pathetic patching..

    I have no problem with paying for more mods, but when you unbalance a game because you sucked more money outa someone else???

     

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  18.  
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    Gaming_dude, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 4:40pm

    Game development by profit.

    The above folks have it right. If you want to slow this type of development down don't buy the games. Once a few fail EA and others will take note. If they succeed, you'll see other companies move to this tactic. I understand the cost of development, but where is the line between a 'bonus' item and something that should have been in the game in the first place. I sure don't want to pay for a gimped game and find out I have to shell out more $$ to get the good stuff we all love to get!

     

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  19.  
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    Ian, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 5:13pm

    HELL YEAH

    Myself and my team have played through the entire Battlefield series that EA has put out. They have been releasing "booster packs" as they have been calling them for thier Battlefield 2 game, which consist of an extra 3 maps, and a couple of weapons, for $10.00 All the while not fixing major bugs plagueing the same game, such as constant disconnects from the game, and other major bugs which should have been caught long before release. EA is clearly and most definatly not doing anything to raise gamers outlooks of them. If anything as of lately, they are solidifying those outlooks.

     

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  20.  
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    wii owner, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 5:15pm

    Not on Nintendo

    While nintendo offers old games for 5-10 dollars, there aren't any games out for the wii that require constant updates that i'm aware of. cheaper system, cheaper games, more fun. the only question is will nintendo keep up a pace with good games?

     

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  21.  
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    josh, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 5:20pm

    here's an idea!

    release the racing game for $10 and the cars for $5 a pop. i don't know why i would pay $60 for an unplayable, empty game. The game engine is pretty much a standard now, just update graphics and re-release.

     

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  22.  
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    pho3, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 6:12pm

    bought 2142 for $15, hoping it was more than a BF2 mod. it *is* better, but that's not saying a lot since BF2 is still plagued with *launch issues* that aren't fixed after 10+ patches.

    since 2142 is the BF2 engine, all of its problems have migrated to 2142, and that's where it pisses me off. fix the fzcking game before you start work on another, based on the same engine.

    as for their business model, i'm sure it's based on the fact that they actually have to pay their employees overtime now.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 6:18pm

    they should seriously allow you to "earn" the codes or bonus material by beating some absurd mission of the game if anything, that would at least be a "tactical" way of handling this..... and if you wanted to go ahead and shell out the cash go ahead.... problem solved, gamers and trustfund babies happy!

     

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  24.  
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    The infamous Joe, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 4:52am

    Boycott?!?!

    After you guys are done boycotting EA, help a brother out and boycott RIAA and MPAA for me.

    haha.. boycott... that would require people to stop playing the video games, first. Good luck with that!

    ..and since you brought it up, I don't think gold farmers have much to do with this-- a better analogy would be if Blizzard decided to start selling gold themselves. Gold farmers just cause inflation.

     

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  25.  
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    Jack Thumper, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 5:55am

    Chinese Farmer.....Get a life

    B, "Chinese farmers have been around in most MMORPGs especially ones pre-dating WoW"

    Hey guys, Chinese farmers have been around for thousands of years in this place known as the real world. Now that video games have become too expensive, go to Wal-Mart or Dick's sporting goods and pick up a football for around 10 bucks. This would help you save money, and get in shape. Then maybe you could get a real girl friend, and dump that cyber-girl that EA charged you $10,000,000 for.

    Just my $.02 or $3,333.33 in virtual money.

     

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  26.  
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    Quic, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 7:47am

    Sliver of Hope??

    As Pho3 stated... BF 2142 hit $15 at Best Buy recently for a short period of time. The more I think about it, the more that this gives me a little hope. The only reasons that a retailer is going to discount something that heavily just before the holidays are:
    1. The game is hot and they are losing market share and need to punch up their numbers.
    2. The have a glut of the game and their numbers are not jiving with sales forecasts, so sell it low for a short period to bring inventory numbers back in line and reduce carrying costs.

    I have had EA games since my first computer back in the 80s. They have gotten their last dime out of me until they change the way they do business. As a PC gamer, I always have to shell out to keep up with the newest hardware requirements, I sure as hell am not going to start paying for something that should have been included in the first place.

     

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  27.  
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    Stain7774, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 7:54am

    Re: BF2

    Agree with you 100%. In fact the guys that I know who' ve been playing aren't getting 2142 for exactly that reason. We aren't going to go through that whole circle of buy, update, buy, buy, update only to get a broken, barely useable experience when all is done.

    Can you believe the inept 1.41 patch for BF2?! Over 500mb of patch goodness that breaks nearly every major feature of the game. They're not getting another dime from me until they mend their ways.

     

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  28.  
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    chris (profile), Dec 5th, 2006 @ 9:28am

    Re: Not on Nintendo

    while nintendo and EA are not really an apples to apples comparison, they are more alike than you think. nintendo does it's share of fan abuse.

    nintendo games are built more around new gaming experiences (the wii-mote is a text book example) rather than established ones like the FPS or the sports game like titles from EA.

    mario kart, animal crossing, mario party, you name it... these are new species of games that people may or may not accept (see donkey konga) and may not want to experiment with at $60 a pop.

    what nintendo and EA have in common is the fact that they leverage their franchises very effectively. nintendo would sell "mario football 07" if they thought they could make bucks doing it each year, and EA would fully sell "super madden brothers" for the same reason.

    nintendo *HAS* to keep it's prices down because the majority of their games involve new gaming experiences that people may not want to put down $60, for lest they be disappointed.

    as for EA charging for bug fixes... if they could get away with it they totally would do it. nintendo has done that very thing with their handhelds (fixing what was wrong and selling it as an improved version) which people line up to buy just like lemmings. nintendo goes one step further and sells you the games you already played years ago on an obsolete console on a handheld.

     

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  29.  
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    Fion, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 10:44am

    EA's bullsh*t

    It's funny because I was telling everyone this was just on the horizon about a year ago and now it's happening. I told everyone I could talk to about it that micro-transactions would get to the point where console players especially would be facing incomplete games that had specific stuff left out just so that companies could charge extra for the 'kool Xtras?' FPS games that came with a pistol and submachinegun but if you wanted anything better you'd have to buy the 'heavy machinegun package' or the 'high explosives' package.

     

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  30.  
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    BikeRanger, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 5:49pm

    Xbox Live has a free tier

    Not to mention that I have to pay a yearly fee for the honor of being part of the XBox club...
    Xbox Live has two tiers of service, one that's free and one that costs. The free tier, "Silver," can download in-game content and arcade games via prepaid cards that can be purchased at retail.

    Paying for "Gold" basically gets you online competition, video chat and earlier access to demos, videos, etc.

    I completely agree that EA is full of **** and I refuse to buy their games on any platform.

     

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  31.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 6:21pm

    EA2142

    Yea, I typed that right, I mean the ad-tageting software described by some AV companies as spyware. While it only affects IE users (who deserve to suffer just because they are using a crap browser) so far, it could well be extended to handle FF2. HTis, for those not in the know, is the component of BF2142 which gets advertising info for the targeted ads.

     

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  32.  
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    Nathan Brown, Dec 9th, 2006 @ 6:21pm

    I lost faith in EA when I had payed to play MCO

    I use to play MCO Motor City Online paid my monthly dues and spent thousands of hours playing to get where I was and then EA yanked it out of under us and it was no more then they sighned a deal with nascar so that they were the only ones that could make nascar games well there were great games out there that could no longer produce because of EA
    I feel that they are about nothing but money and have put a big hurt on the gaming industry
    I feel that if it wasnt for them bullying the little guys we would be alot further with the gaming platforms than we are now
    and I dont pay to play a EA game any more cause I dont want to get into somthing to have them rip it out of under me I have boycoted EA since the closing of MCO

     

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