EA: Complaints About On-Disc DLC Are 'Nonsense'

from the tomato,-tomahto dept

We’ve long discussed how game downloadable content (DLC) can be done right, but more often than not it’s done very, very wrong. On the positive side you have CD Projekt Red, who recently decided to offer two free pieces of DLC for The Witcher 3 every week for months, helping to build a positive relationship with fans while keeping the game consistently in the public (and media’s) eye. More often than not however you have efforts like Bungie’s recent flubs with Destiny, or Ubisoft’s pretty but incredibly shitty DLC approach to Assasin’s Creed, Unity.

And then there’s EA, whose quality control issues, treatment of employees and obsession with low-value microtransactions are now legendary in the gaming industry. The company has made nickel and diming DLC high art, at times stuffing $60 launch titles with dozens of pieces of DLC at $5 or more a pop — already embedded on the disc. Whether you like this idea or not, there’s little debate that EA has quite often pushed the idea of microtransactions too far.

But what you might call obnoxious and greedy, EA COO Peter Moore continues to call “innovative value proposition.” Speaking recently to Gamespot, Moore quite-proudly proclaimed that it’s “nonsense” to believe publishers sell incomplete titles in order to make money off of missing content:

“A lot of that resistance comes from the erroneous belief that somehow companies will ship a game incomplete, and then try to sell you stuff they have already made and held back. Nonsense. You come and stand where I am, next to Visceral’s studio, and you see the work that is being done right now. And it’s not just DLC, this is free updates and ongoing balance changes.”

Well, one, things like “free updates” and “balance changes” are part of routine maintenance for a title, and since they often involve fixing bugs — aren’t really part of the conversation. Still, Moore would prefer it if gamers thought about future EA DLC as if it were “APIs,” not content already on the disc that customers should have gotten with the original game:

“Think of them as APIs,” he said. “Knowing down the road that something needs to sit on what you’ve already made, means you have to put some foundations down. What people are confused about is they think DLC is secretly on the disc, and that it’s somehow unlocked when we say.”

And sure, Moore’s not entirely wrong. Many are quick to point out that in modern game development, DLC quite often runs parallel and separate from core game design, and the core structure of DLC developed at a later date often exists on disc to make integration easier. Few deny that, and DLC can certainly be done well. But DLC did in fact start with many developers shaving core content off of the original game to make an extra buck, and there’s little doubt that many titles are left intentionally sparse so users need to acquire pricey DLC to fully flesh them out. Moore also ignores the unholy atrocity that is pre-order DLC bonuses, which involves only being able to get a vast array of content if you pre-order from select vendors.

Cumulatively, the frequency of poorly-implemented microtransactions is still annoying, and it’s certainly not “nonsense” if the modern gamer feels that the value proposition of many modern titles from AAA developers has slowly been circling the toilet. On the flip side, it has been interesting to watch the resistance to poorly-implemented DLC slowly erode over the years. Back in 2011, gamer disdain for nickel and dime DLC was utterly palpable. During the first quarter of this year, “extra content” generated roughly $921 million out of EA?s total digital revenue of $2.2 billion, meaning there are plenty of people who now either think DLC offers a great value position or have more disposable income than brains. I personally ignore 99.7% of all DLC.

Granted Moore is the same guy who tried to argue that EA won Consumerist’s “The Worst Company In America” poll simply because it’s big. And EA is the same company that consumes talented developers and shits out broken dreams as a matter of course. As such, EA’s probably the last one gamers should ask when trying to differentiate value from a heaping $5 pile of nonsensical, supplementary horse excrement.

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Comments on “EA: Complaints About On-Disc DLC Are 'Nonsense'”

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Violynne (profile) says:

During the first quarter of this year, “extra content” generated roughly $921 million out of EA’s total digital revenue of $2.2 billion, meaning there are plenty of people who now either think DLC offers a great value position or have more disposable income than brains.
This is precisely why Techdirt will be writing about EA for many, many years to come. Job security for Karl and Tim (or is it Timothy, can never remember).

I personally ignore 99.7% of all DLC.
Ditto. As it stands, the only company which gets my money for its DLC is (Zenimax) Bethesda, currently my favorite game studio.

I didn’t mind one bit paying $20 for a virtual clouded leopard mount for Elder Scrolls Online (after buying two house cats and another lioness). This game gives me such a fantastic good time, I actually feel guilty I don’t subscribe (a requirement dropped by Zenimax pre-console launch).

$70 for a game that clearly gives so much more than pretty much any other title out there (not yet played Witcher 3, which I heard was huge) that I’m hoping this plan doesn’t backfire because we have idiotic gamers who want it all but want to pay nothing for it.

As for Ubisoft and EA, I don’t buy any of their games direct. If I want it, I’ll head to Gamestop where they get the money and I get the game, screwing EA and Ubisoft both.

It’s not a coincidence small publishers are making big waves.

Oh, yeah, and a plug: Submerged is a really great game for $20. You can finish it in a day, but it’s gorgeous and fun to play. Recommended.

Why the plug? small publisher. 😉

Sheogorath (profile) says:

Re: Re:

[…] we have idiotic game developers who want it all but want to do nothing to encourage consumers to buy the games.
FTFY, Violynne. 😉
If I want it, I’ll head to Gamestop where they get the money and I get the game, screwing EA and Ubisoft both.
Whereas if I want a game by EA or Ubisoft, I’ll look for something similar from a different developer and get that instead. I’m screwing them both harder than you are, and all without piracy.

Violynne (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Not on consoles. I have never had a used game by EA or Ubisoft fail to work from a used game.

While I’ll admit they do try to get me to “sign up” for their “service”, I decline.

Also, the “FTFY” is dead wrong. EA and Ubisoft clearly have no intention of changing their ways and gamers are still buying the games.

There’s no denying EA and Ubisoft still make good games. That would be lying. What’s important to realize here is how we obtain those games, and buying second-hand is not piracy.

Wait. Just noted your username. You’re toying with us, aren’t you Daedric Prince of Madness.

Sheogorath (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

What’s important to realize here is how we obtain those games, and buying second-hand is not piracy.
She says to someone who purchases second hand movies to avoid paying the MPAA anything. Yes, I’m aware that buying second hand isn’t piracy, and you’d have known that if you’d read my later comment. All I was implying is that I don’t make up for the EA and Ubisoft games I don’t have by obtaining them illegally, preferring to get similar titles from other developers instead. This was supposed to calm down any industry representatives who would jump to the assumption that just because I’m not purchasing certain titles must mean I’m pirating them.

andy says:


if people do not like the dlc the will either hack it or not buy the game from the specific developer. EA might be making a lot of money now but as has been seen many times before games developers can fall apart almost overnight. EA is going to collapse , take the facts and realise nobody really likes them and most people do not buy their games unless they are second hand and the developers get nothing.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I just don’t EA.

I certainly don’t EA from EA.

I do, however, buy EA titles from GoG, which don’t have DRM. (I actually have repurchased a bunch of EA games that I already had on CD just because it meant I didn’t have to search around for nocds or figure out a way to get a Windows 98 game to run on Windows 7.)

Some of their old stuff (made by other companies they purchased,) is good. Unfortunately, that means that I am part of the problem because I am supporting a flunky business model.

AJ says:


Exactly. There are a half a dozen studio’s that I won’t preorder/Alpha-Beta/ or buy a new release. I wait until they are on the humble bundle on steam, or at the very least GOTY sale.

Whats the point of buying an incomplete game? They say it’s added value or “Add-On’s”. I say bullshit. If I want DLC I’ll mod my own, give me the whole game upfront, or I’ll wait until it hits the discount bin…

Anonymous Coward says:

“Oh, yeah, and a plug: Submerged is a really great game for $20. You can finish it in a day, but it’s gorgeous and fun to play. Recommended.

Why the plug? small publisher. ;)”

Always nice when someone can misuse an article and discussion to try and push their own paid product. You better be sure i will never touch Submerged because of this.

Go somewhere ells and post your add spam

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I now look for the "complete" version

It depends, for me.

If I want to support the developer then I am happy to pay.

For example Obsidian is releasing an expansion for Pillars of Eternity on GOG in a few days. I will pay for this even though it would be better to wait for their “final” edition which contains all updates. I will pay for the Witcher 3 expansions too.

If there were any EA games that I actually wanted to play (there are not) I would pirate them for ethical reasons. EA is an unethical company that does not deserve support or any respect at all.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Before there was DLC there was DLC...

…in the form of game expansions.

Notable examples include Brood Wars for the original Starcraft and Zero Hour for the original Command and Conquer: Generals. In both cases, the new content was worth the addition.

Game expansions weren’t always very good. The Sims and Sims 2 expansions were hit-or-miss, and now it takes several hours to do a complete install of Sims 2 (the best of the series).

However, in both cases, the expansions were developed after watching the players to see how they played the game, so that new units would fill in the blatant gaps that were left in the old tech trees. In the case of Generals, they also added specialized variants of the tech trees, often featuring special units which leaned towards specific strategies.

Day-one DLC doesn’t bother with that sort of feedback, so it’s more like development material intentionally withheld in order to create an auxiliary monetization base. As a result, often the base game feels incomplete or abridged, rather than the game with the DLC feeling enhanced, or rounded out with the new material.

Anonymous Coward says:

I dunno… I’d pay $5 for nonsensical, supplementary horse excretment. After all, I get the whole product at once. Then I can have fun with it. I can fertilise things, I can throw it at people, I can burn it. And even better, I know I don’t later have to pay $5 to get the flies, another $5 to get the smell or $10 for the other half of the pile.

Whereas EA would sell me the horse and then charge me extra to activate the horse’s poop maker.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Oh, and some more benefits: The excretment:
– doesn’t periodically phone home to its maker
– doesn’t require activation
– doesn’t have to be always online to work
– doesn’t snoop on my garden bed and tell the maker what flowers I grow
– doesn’t restrict me from doing what I want with it
– doesn’t introduce security holes
– doesn’t lock me out of my other legally purchased products because I accidentally mixed it with sand instead of dirt

Thomas (profile) says:

Digital Revenue Breakdown

Have to be careful with the digital revenue breakdown. Most of that probably comes from the mobile space (cell phones). Where most games are free and *only* have fees for “extra content”. It’s also the most predatory market that exists for video games (seriously there are people who spend thousands of dollars on them).

This is also a separate market from “core gamers”, so it wouldn’t necessarily imply that pc/console gamers are buying that much DLC.

Also, I would have expected previously 100% of digital revenue to be extra content since EA was a little slow to the digital sales realm. You would have bought the game in a store then the DLC through some patchwork of xbox live/psn/website etc.

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