The source of my rant:
EA is attempting to make some extra cash from the used-game market. Customers are required to enter a one time code to access multiplayer content. For those who don't have the code they must pay to play. Why does this bug me? I rent. Specifically I rent from Gamefly. I happen to enjoy their services, and have had no major issues. I was most displeased when I discovered Bulletstorm's MP was not accessible. I pay for Xbox Live (well not lately I've been using up the free passes from old games). I pay for Gamefly, and all the other items necessary to play games. Why do I have to pay for multiplayer in EA tittles?
I continue to find the overall cost of games rising steadily. Buy new hardware to experience motion controls, 3D, and music like gaming. These new features can sky rocket the price of modern home entertainment system, but they are only the big ticket items.
DLC content continues to change the landscape of released titles. Map packs in FPS tittles take precedent in on-line play, and divide the have's from the have-not's. Ranging from $10 to $15 per DLC the cost of a game can go up to $100 fast. For RPG's, story arcs are expanded, and players are encouraged to buy expansion packs.
If they don't, then they'll be behind once the next full game is released. These additions can cost up to $40, and this doesn't include any in-game items you choose to buy. All of this must have merchandise does add/enhance the gaming experience, but the price of admission is often not worth it.
If studios and publishers are so desperate for cash, then why don't they look towards advertising. There is vast amounts of empty space in games that can be utilized for ads. Load screens are the easy example. Do you really need the hints?
Especially for long running franchises like Halo and Call of Duty--grenades kill, cover protects, bad guys die from taking damage etc. etc. etc. Throw up a quick 7-11 or McDonald's logo next to the hints, or go all the way with a quick commercial. Load screens are usually fifteen to thirty seconds long, which is plenty of time for a fast word from our sponsors. Tittle updates can replace the commercials if needed. This idea can also be applied to intro and tittle screens.
Games are already seeing advertisements slip into certain genres. Billboards in racing games are a great reference for expanding ads in other areas. The key is to make the ads noticeable, but not overbearing. Gamers will be hesitant to accept advertisements and it is important not to distract from the entertainment factor. Ads should be in areas that do not inhibit gameplay, or ruin a cinematic moment. This is why I suggest load screens, or other areas that are not in-game.
Will there be backlash? Yes of course there will. People also dislike ads in movies and television, yet they still exist. People will not stop buying games because of advertisement. Just like they won't stop buying games because of the price of DLC or multiplayer.
Ideally I would love to see two options develop--ads or bills. Gamers can be billed and see no ads like many internet subscriptions. Or they can tolerate advertisements in their games. Both are granted full access to a game, which after-all is what this rant was originally all about.
|J Brian Smith|