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Ubisoft Watching EA's 'Project $10' 'Very Carefully'
Ubisoft Watching EA's 'Project $10' 'Very Carefully'
May 18, 2010 | By Kris Graft

May 18, 2010 | By Kris Graft
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    64 comments
More: Console/PC



French Splinter Cell publisher Ubisoft is is keeping a close eye on competitor Electronic Arts, and how that publisher is combating used game sales with day-one downloadable content.

Ubisoft CFO Alain Martinez said in a Tuesday earnings call following Ubisoft's fiscal year results, "Regarding ... monetizing used games or downloadable content most of the games that we will release next year will have downloadable content available from the start."

He added, "We are looking very carefully at what is being done by EA regarding what we call the '$10 solution,' and we will probably follow that line at sometime in the future."

EA is leading the industry with a business strategy reportedly called "Project $10." This tactic involves new games that have about $10 worth of content (maps, armor, quests) included in the package as a one-time download code. When the customer brings that new game home, he can immediately acquire the rest of the game via download.

Assuming that the $10 one-time code is used by the original owner, used copies will not include that chunk of the game, although the content would still be available to buy online. Ubisoft began using download keys in its products last year, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot noted.

The strategy is designed to make buying a new game more tempting to consumers than buying cheaper used games at retailers like GameStop. Publishers do not see any revenue from the sale of used games.

EA also recently introduced "Online Pass" for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 EA Sports games. The "pass" is a one-time-use code that allows the original owner of the game access to content and online multiplayer.


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Comments


Chad Metrick
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This is what I was afraid of, EA setting a precedent for every other company to rob you. That's what you call...danger zone.

Jack Rappazzo
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I agree. This irked me to the point I have ceased buying EA games entirely. I don't want to have to do the same to Ubisoft products, but I will if they follow this model.

Fiore Iantosca
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This is why as consumers you MUST resist and not purchase these GAMES!



I am no longer buying EA's sports games. No more Madden for me!!!



Better yet, after you don't buy it write them a letter. Don't email, don't call. TYPE A LETTER and tell them what you think.

R G
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EA's policy really only affects those who don't go out and buy EA sports titles. Most people who buy FIFA, NHL, or Madden buy them day one or at least buy them new. I don't typically buy a sports title, so it doesn't really bother me.



Though if Ubisoft does do this or it pertains to other genres, it will suck. Though it HAS to be better than their DRM.

Robert Schmidt
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Wait a minute. The game stores are re-selling games and making a great deal of money off it while the company that actually invested in developing the game gets nothing. I think it is complete B.S. Those who oppose DRM seem to think they are modern day Robin Hoods. The fact is they have an entitlement complex. Game companies have to make money or they won't make games. That is a fact. Pirates steal games not just from the game companies but in a way, also from us. It is because of them the game companies have to increase the price of games as well as find ways of blocking the pirates. If you have a problem with DRM you should be slamming the pirates not the game companies. When was the last time you reported a pirate? If you ever played a pirated game then you are partly to blame for this situation. You all seem to forget we have a market economy. Game companies are not charities with a mandite to provide you with free entertainment.

Marco Devarez
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I dont see the problem with project $10 (I actually kinda like it [ im an EA investor] but the usual 15 seems a bit much 9.99 sounds better) Now online pass might be pushing it but i dont know enough about it yet.



Besides, we haven't seen the impact this has on used game prices, it may be a win win. If you' continually trade-in and/or buy used games (as far as i can tell is kind of a cycle, trade-in to fund purchases of either new or used games) you rarely stick around for subsequent DLC.



If this manages to devalue used games (10 sounds about right) then one would think that its a wash for those that want to get the DLC and the deeper experience. But a mkuch much cheaper option for those that dont. Again seems like a win-win scenario.

Mike Sweeney
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This is what's needed to set the differential between used games and new games. If the used retailers didn't sell them side by side as equivilent products, this wouldn't be anywhere near as big of a deal. As much as I hate to use the car metaphor - a new car dealership isn't the same as a used car lot.

Michael Smith
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I take offense at a company making all the money off games that they didn't make. I've always felt it was worse than piracy. Since money is exchanging hands, it's an actual lost sale. (this is somewhat negated by consumer confidence in game purchases where they can resell the game to get back some of their money) This is the result of sticking with discs as games. You have to respect first-sale rights. Of course, digital distribution is changing this.



I'm pretty conflicted on "Project $10." On the outside it sounds pretty bad, but the effect seems pretty tame if you play it out. Of course, this may be a case of EA trying to have their cake and eat it too, pretending their game is a disc or a service depending on which is to their advantage in each situation. Artificial scarcity or one sale per user? Stop trying to have both.



Maybe I'd be more outraged if I actually bought used games or pretended that discs are games.

scott stevens
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I don't see a problem with this idea, actually. If you buy the game new, you get a free pass to access all of the DLC that would normally be $10. If you buy the game used, you still get the full game, and you can get even more content by purchasing it online. This way, consumers that want to save a few dollars and buy used games can still do so and enjoy the game, but those fans who shell out more for the game when it's new will get more value via the DLC. I don't really see how this is a bad thing...

Kevin Reese
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1) Stick-based DRM has had extremely little effectiveness in the entire history of PC gaming, and now as we move forward into the future, will not work in console game piracy either.



2) Effective carrot-based DRM that will actually improve sales:

a) devote a decent-sized patching team to your game; plan to release many patches for at least six months after your product is released

b) each patch fixes bugs

c) each patch adds small improvements , or small additional content (which does not take that many resources after your game is complete)

d) for PC games, each patch makes the current crack that's out ineffective, forcing crackers to re-crack the game [ which will taper off as time continues to the point where the legitimate owners of the game will actually have a better product, and better service , then pirated copies of the game gamers enjoy...which is the case now for many PC games). For 'the scene', the most important thing is releasing a game as quickly as possible. It is currently not as much as a goal to re-crack things as new versions come out (said another way: there is no pirate customer support) .



3) Other carrot ideas: only people who bought the game have access to select community forums, ideally where the developers at least have some small contribution to; only people legitimate game codes have access to the increasing social applications tied to gaming, this includes MP support; owners of the game with verifiable product keys can buy the sequel or expansions to games and a heavily discounted rate direct from the publishers.



Stick-based DRM HAS NEVER WORKED . EVER. There is no popular PC game that has not been cracked in the entire history of PC Gaming. Their will always be piracy, (well, unless all games are streamed maybe), but the best solution is that people who buy the games get a better product, and a more convenient one, then people who pirate the game. Currently this is often not the case: I personally know people that bought Assassin's Creed 2 PC for instance, and then never opened the box, opting instead to play the pirated version. Is that not a screwy situation or what?



As for the many dev's who switch over to only console development because of piracy: I hate to break it to you, but there is a good chance console game piracy will one day be as rampant as PC game piracy is. The solution is in better serving the customer. Also, many PC games have tanked because the games aren't PC games -- they are fundamentally console games by nature played on PC. Look at the sales of PC strategy games such Civilization, Sins of A Solar Empire, or PC-MMORPG like [you know what] -- there is a strong market for actual PC-type games. And you can make one with a budget of 1 million not 50 million.



As for used games, I think they should always be available. It is the right of any consumer to re-sell what he has purchased, be it a hat, a car, or a waffle. However at the same time I feel this EA and Bioware move is a 'fair trick' , so if they think it'll equate to more sales, then that is their fair prerogative to try out :)

Eric Gilbert
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So what happens when everyone who buys used doesn't buy the $10 DLC? The next step is to have the $10 give you the last level of the game, right? :(

Lo Pan
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I prefer that the publisher receive a portion of the used game sale from the vendor. Developers and Publishers need to get paid for their efforts. AAA games now cost north of 25 million to build and another 10 million to market.

Michael Eilers
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This has a much greater potential to disrupt the rental market, rather than the trade in/used market... If I've rented a game for $3.50, there is no way I am paying $10.00 more just to access the online play for a game due back on Monday. Who is going to rent Madden with no multiplayer? Arguably the rental market represents a bigger threat of income loss than the trade-in market, since with trade-in there are at least some odds (for the big publishers) that the person trading in will buy a new copy of another game from their catalog; meanwhile, the renter can lend out that copy of the game dozens or hundreds of times a year and make revenue on it each time that does not reach the original publisher or developers.

Michael Eilers
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@Christian actually the book publishing market has always hated the book resale market, and cover prices ($28.00 for a 250-page, black-and-white book) are an example of them trying to preemptively recover the cost of what they assume will be lost sales once that book is resold.



There have also been multiple attempts by the music industry to disrupt or prevent used sales of CDs; Sony in the early 00s tried to ship discs that would connect to a web site to authorize use of the tracks, and others have also tried to prevent this - and perhaps you've heard of iTunes, which makes it literally impossible to re-sell your music, unless you can get someone to pay for a generic burned CD?

E Zachary Knight
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@Michael,



You are correct there. Film, music and book companies all hate the used market. The key difference here is that they have come to terms with it and are not actively seeking to disrupt the used market. The video game industry has not come to terms with it and is actively seeking to disrupt it.



Also, EA has said they will offer a 7-day free pass for those who don't want to shell out the $10 for a lifetime pass. So that helps with those who rent or borrow.

Michael Camp
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@Christian: you sir, are correct. The sale of media has always been a difficult trade, with margins for retailers absolute junk. The used market is one of very few models to make the "new" market viable.



In specialty retailing (which is what places like Gamestop are) there is a basic concept that if you are not "Keystoning" then you are slowly dying. For those that don't know, keystoning is if something costs you $5, then you sell it for $10. You do this because the costs of properly servicing your specialty market (knowing the products, understanding the marketplace, advocating for publishers, etc) is high and you'll need that keystone to cover those costs. Unfortunately, in the games world, keystoning is not even remotely a possibility. For a typical AAA game, the $60 price tag is only netting the retailer $8-10, which isn't nearly enough.



By incorporating used product into the mix, you can push your margins into a healthier place, allowing your business to truly do the work of a specialty store. Without it, the specialty store eventually goes away, or morphs into something that we wouldn't recognize as a games store at all, where the new games are used as loss leaders hoping you'll buy a washing machine while you're in the store...



As far as publishers wanting some of the used action...well who wouldn't? But, just because they want it doesn't mean they're entitled to it. DLC and digital delivery would certainly work their way around the aftermarket, but there where would they be without specialty outlets advocating for them?



Just for the record...I have a small specialty store that works like a dog every day to advocate for these publishers. We learn the games, who they are best suited for, and hand sell everything from artsy titles to tried & true mainstays, all while losing money every month on new games. The used games we sell make it possible for us to do this...take away used games and I'm hunting for a new product to sell...

Alan Rimkeit
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Why do video game companies think they are different from every other consumer product producing company in America? When a used book is sold, the book publisher gets nothing. When a used car is sold, the car producer gets nothing. When a used DVD is sold the movie publisher gets nothing. Why do video game companies think that they are above everyone else? Why do they think that they are some how privileged? I do not understand the logic at all. Please, someone explain this to me.

Christian Nutt
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@Christian, Look at the MSRPs of the hardcover books in the right-hand column of this Amazon.com page -- http://www.amazon.com/books-used-books-textbooks/b/ref=sa_menu_bo
0?ie=UTF8&node=283155&pf_rd_p=328655101&pf_rd_s=left-nav-1&pf_rd_
t=101&pf_rd_i=507846&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=17SDNQZPN2A9EN
6YP26B



$28 is a very common price. Of course, that's not what the books actually sell for -- which is where the comparison to games breaks down.

Anton Pustovoyt
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Sigh, where did the good old attitude go, to create games for the fun, and not for the sake of squeezing every possible dollar out of the gamers. And then they wonder why piracy goes up.



EA should not get 10$ extra just because the game got a new owner, since they did not spend any extra cash on producing that DVD, or shipping it. Imho EA point fingers at wrong target with their new project. They should instead charge Gamestop with % of their revenue from re-selling old games (I am not sure they can do it by the law thou..).

Scott Jonsson
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I love everyone saying how they're going to boycott EA for this.



1. If you usually buy it new, nothing is changed, so why are you boycotting?



2. If you usually buy it used and you boycott EA, then EA really doesn't care because you were never giving them money in the first place.

Alan Rimkeit
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@Anton Pustovoyt -



"They should instead charge Gamestop with % of their revenue from re-selling old games."



Why? Why should any game publisher get a percentage of the sale of used games? I go back to my former question and post. Why do video game companies think they are different from every other consumer product producing company in America? I know it hurts that so many people buy used, but maybe the video game industry should adjust for this fact instead of trying to fight it as they are now. I don't know how they could do so, but I think in the long run it would be more profitable and productive than short sighted schemes such as EA is cooking up.



My best idea for consoles is for either Microsoft or Sony starting up a Steam like service for consoles. I don't know how well that would work though for the PS3 as those games are significantly larger than PC games in terms of size. The 360 looks like a better candidate for such a service to work as the 360 still uses DVD's for the games.

Robert Schmidt
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@Christian Keichel, good point.

Randy Angle
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It is about time - the retailers should not make money on used games without sharing the 'luv' with the publishers and developers. If there is a solution that makes sense to buy new games over used games I'm all for it.



But then I really enjoy the idea of games as a service and believe that all games should be supported by new content on a regular basis with online features and have prices that match this new business model (I would gladly spend $10 a month for 7 months instead of $70 once).

Jeremy Reaban
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The real solution is to make games people want to keep...at least for the first month or two. That's why the used game market is so big - people buy games, beat them in a few days, sell them back.

Terry Matthes
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Total Bullshit. I shouldn't have to buy a game's content in pieces. Furthermore you do not deserve to make money of the used copies of your games. The purchase price has already been paid. End of Story.



@Randy -"the retailers should not make money on used games without sharing the 'luv' with the publishers and developers"



Perhaps you also wouldn't mind giving some of the money you made selling you used car to say ford or nissan? Lets share the luv...

Simon T
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@ Alan



I think a sticking point with used game sales compared to other products is that those other products are significantly devalued right out of the gate. Whereas with a used game, EB or any of the other stores can buy those games back at a fraction of the cost, and then onsell them at marginally lower prices than the cost of a new game, creating a huge profit margin.



In theory, used game sales are no different to other products, however gamers will still buy these marginally lowed priced games because the prices of new games are exorbitant to begin with, and the racket EB et al have going will continue to leave a bad taste in publishing mouths.



Digital distribution...

Alan Rimkeit
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@Simon T - I understand that point. But to me that is besides the point. Used sales of any product are used sales. That is the bottom line. To me it is just crazy.



But then it is also crazy to me that gamers will buy used games for such a high mark up. Why do they do this when there are lots of other places to buy used games? I have no idea. I always buy my used games from people off of EBay. I have never had a bad experience doing so. I do buy new games, well I used to at least. Finances and all that prevent me from spending the full $60 dollars on a game no matter how awesome it is.

Terry Matthes
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@ Simon T

Paying top dollar for used games is a consumer perpetuated problem. Try waiting a few months and exhibiting some self control. The price will go down. Game Stop isn't running a "racket". Why would they lower their prices if people are dumb enough to pay them?



If publisher's want a cut of used game sales maybe they can set up stores all over the country to start taking them in. Game Stop runs a successful business and publisher's are jealous of their profits, but at the same time also seem to be ignorant of their effort. Running a successful multinational business is no easy task.

Simon T
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@ Alan



I agree with you, publishers should just buck up and shut up. I do think games are a bit unique though.



@ Terry



Of course it's consumer driven. And it is a racket. Just because the market drives it, doesn't make it okay.

Alan Rimkeit
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Personally I am ok with rewards programs that give benefits to gamers that purchase a game new. Extra stuff like skins for characters, guns for FPS's, and the like. To me that is a good way to encourage people to spend the extra cash to get the game new. Publishers are well with in their right to employ such tactics. The Cerebus Network is a good example of this idea. I say go for it to EA on this as long as the benefits are worth the buyers time and investment. I have not purchased Mass Effect 2 yet. This idea of added content makes me want to buy the game new.



But this business of restricting features of the game if a person does not pay up is just wrong to me on every level possible. Taking things away never encourages the consumers. It makes them feel slighted upon. Restricting content is never a good idea. I think this will not work out so well for EA in the long run. Consumers will not go for it as it is a small level of extortion as I see it.

Craig Dolphin
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As a gamer who objects violently to excessive DRM like SecuROM, and like Ubisoft's latest attempt to shoot itself in the 'nads, I personally don't have any problem with the $10 strategy; such as that implmented by Mass Effect 2's cerberus network for example.



But I will place one caveat on that statement: the moment the game cannot be completed without the downloadable content is the moment that I will object loudly and vote accordingly with my wallet.



But as long as the template is akin to the cerberus network, then I'm fine with it. When a large percentage of the player base is buying used copies then I can understand why game companies feel like they're getting the raw end of the equation.



As for the issues faced by retailers and publishers: it seems to me that both sides have some valid points. If the margin for retailers on new copies is too slim to be able to stay in business, then it is no wonder they push used copies instead. If game publishers want a slice of the retail used market, then maybe they ought to negotiate more generous revenue sharing terms for the retailers who sell new copies.



But personally I think a buy-back program offering discounts on future games would be a smarter move overall.

Jesse Boessel
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I don't exactly love the idea, but I'm curious to see where it goes. I read somewhere that Gamestop actually likes the plan. I am waiting to make my final judgement. It seems too easy to point a finger at the corporate giant when the issue is this complex. Personally I buy almost all of my games from Gamestop because I like their services. I only buy new ones though because I don't like the idea of buying a disk that someone else may have mistreated, forcing me to buy it again in a few months. Anyway, I would submit that if you buy a game for $39 that woulad cost $59 new, you are still saving $10. But it's still a disk that someone else probably used as a coaster.

Matt Ross
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well, I already ditched Ubi games after their new DRM crap, so no big deal.

William Anderson
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Wait! All this fuss over nothing! Game developers are moving to self-publishing to avoid dealing with the EA's of the world anyway. EA and Ubi know if something doesn't change in this direction they will be gone in 5 years or less. Games will all come via download to reduce the cost and how the deal with product bugs that pop up after they are in the public hands. In the end gamers will win! Lower cost games all around and fresh ideas freed from the rush to make a quick buck just to please stock holders.

Memz Canan
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If you choose not to purchase video game titles developed/published by EA Games or UBISoft then that decision is perfectly acceptable and can be one form of protest or demonstration that could attract their attention, ofcourse, only if it is done on a mass scale as a couple of people won't make much difference!

Memz Canan
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Essentially, the games developers/publishers are designing and producing video games titles for commercial exploitation as a business.



So it makes sense as way of minimising the risk of making losses these companies will continue to develop games as brands with a proven track record of sales, such as NFL Madden or NBA.

Memz Canan
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These companies re-invest money from the profits that they earn from sales back into new projects and often they are lucky if 2-3 out of every 10 game titles they release each year become big enough hits that the profits can be used to covers the costs of the other 7-8 game titles that made losses. The costs involved for developing a video game are very high and compared to the risk.

gus one
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The problem here is that most people who have replied are just not commercial. We've seen plenty of times what happens when the creatives (uncommercial) run a games company. The budget explodes and game is very late (if ever released) and eventually it goes bust. They need commercial people to tell them what to do. You have to be commercial to surivive. EA's approach is "well here's the game buy it used if you like but you know what we're going to chuck in some extra cool stuff because we would like you as a customer. And then maybe you'll buy our games new next time." What's wrong with that? You can still buy the game used as is if you want. Personally they should be applauded for trying something creative that does not alienate the consumer. Like some folks said earlier if you were going to buy it new anyway you will and if you were going to buy it used you still will. This just adds an incentive to the used buyer to think "hey 10 bucks is bugger all, why the hell not". The games industry is hurting bad. The big easy money is gone now but games are still costing more to produce. You've got to look at the big picture or there will not even be a games industry in 5 years. They have got to make money. Yeh it's turning the second hand market on it's head but so what if it makes a profit. Just because media IP owners historically have never benefited from second hand sales of media that does not mean they cannot try. In fact it's revolutionary and whoever gets it right will have first mover advantage and make a killing. Drop the hippy lets all love each other and everything in life is free act lads. It's not commercial. As for the 'boycotters' - grow up. Silly comments like that remind me of the Modern Warfare 2 boycott Steam group created because of the lack of dedicated servers. After MW2 was released looking at the Steam group the vast majority that were in game were playing.... you guessed it MW2!

Memz Canan
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The difference between the Video Games Industry and Automobile Industry can been from a simple point that a car manufacturer makes huge profits from the initial sale of each car valued and then the After Sales Services such as spare parts.

Reza Nezami
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I'm going to put a rather different spin to this subject. I am a game developer by profession, recently traveled to my home country, Iran, and decided checking out how the local game industry doing. They are doing miserably! Why? mainly because of cheap cracked game imported from china! Here's the deal. You can buy MW2 for a buck or buy a locally produced, albeit average game, for 10$ which barely brings a tiny bit of profit to the small local producer/publisher. Now if the local gamer has to pay 10$ to get the rest of the game which IS NOT on the disc, then it will be a different story, wouldn't it? That's why I'm all for having even incomplete game on hard disc and download the rest along with all DLCs online.

Memz Canan
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@Gus One



you're right, especially about the creative and commercial peoples input !

Memz Canan
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@Reza Nezami



there are various issues which you pointed out that many consumers have problems understanding how the impact of these issues and those mentioned in some of the comments posted are going to effect the Games Industry.



On one hand we find some consumers dissatisfied with the quality and value for money they get when purchasing a AAA game. Although, the games developers/publishers perspective is that they are unhappy with the loss of revenue from both piracy and the pre-owned sales market. This is probably because consumer may not fully understand or appreciate exactly how much time, finance, resources and skill involved in the value chain to develop, test, manufacture, package, marketing + promotion and distribution for the release of a AAA game.

John Maurer
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What's the big deal? Either way, you can still get the content. You'll pay half-price for a used title, and another ten dollars for the "original" DLC. Me personally, I don't sell my games, but I often miss ones that I'd like when they are release. I may be "forced" to buy used, but prefer new if possible. What EA and "potentially" Ubisoft are doing isn't a big deal, really.

Memz Canan
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When Activision published Call of Duty 4: MW2, consumers had to pay for the addtional Stimulus Pack DLC, with downloads passing 2.5million on the Xbox 360 and now 1 million on the PS3. However, when Activision released Call of Duty 4 they also published the Game of The Year Edition, which included a code for various DLC as part of the package. So everybody was taken care of, both the community of Call of Duty players, the casual players and those that were only playing for achievements or gamerscore. There should be no big problem about EA's decision, especially, if they are willing to offer a 7 day free pass, as commented by Ephriam Knight.

Memz Canan
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@ John-Paul Clifton



It is less likely that we would see the games developers/publishers create their own retail store to buy back their own games, the idea of business is to sell you their product and not to buy it back from you, plus that would require alot of time, storage space, resources, finance etc. to establish and maintain that kind of operation, which would be counter productive and divert their attention away from their primary activity.

EM Green
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The Amazon credit for game pre-orders now are incredible. Many of my friends and colleagues are buying games they might have waited on because $20 toward your next game purchase is a pretty good deal.

Chuan Lim
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Maybe the fact that people now so willingly trade-in their new games after a single play-through is saying something about the types of game experiences that are being created by Ubisoft / EA? If you make your games super-streamlined and targeted at the lowest common denominator then your audience has less reason to want to hang on to them. Make better, more comprehensive games, and we will support you. Make shitty 6-hour rollercoasters and yeah we'll trade you in tomorrow. Another alternative would be to actually lower the price of retail games by $10 so that they're more affordable. Gamers like playing games, but the price is prohibitive in this economic climate, especially at launch.



Talk about th' tail wagging th' dog! The problem here is really one of customer's perception of value -> hence the phenomenal rise of trade-ins. Same shit as all the BSAA BS about billions of dollars lost in sales due to piracy. Fact is, if you make something great then people will show appreciation and covet it [ and no, artbooks & cat helmets aren't the answer ]. This is also evident if you look at what games often get traded at your local store vs. stuff that people want to keep: and funnily enough I usually see a fuck-ton of Ubisoft titles, Army of Two & EA sports games and rarely any MGS4 or Shadow of the Colossus, and so on. This is the market actively responding to an unrealistic pricepoint in the first place and saying that the inherent value of some of these products is quite low.



-



I detest what's happening now with the likes of FIFA10 and Prince of Persia where it seems as if a sizable chunk of the game is gutted for DLC before it goes retail. Its quite a rip on the consumer especially when video games prices are triple that of Blu-Ray films, DVDs, and other similar entertainment. Yes, I understand the costs involved but with a premium product like Battlefield Bad Company 2 one gets a little quizzical to understanding why it takes 4 months for maps that are on the disc to be released to players online. Way to go EA, I bought it brand new and now with my "VIP" pass get to wait for the content that should have been on there in the first place.! Even worse now that they recently announced that DICE are working on an additional new $10 BFBC2 DLC in the "Onslaught Mode".



Fucking hell, just give us some new maps as promised instead of minor tweaks to existing ones that should have been ready at launch. Not going to hold my breath for anything more from EA / DICE on this front. Great game but the "VIP" pass was really just a way to make more money off unfinished content and more importantly entrain players into the mindset of having to "pay" a premium for everything. I don't mind if you want to do this but you need to then either [1] drop the price of the core game as it's going to be incomplete, and [2] make the additions meaningful instead of pulling a peek-a-boo "here's the content that should've been in there" trick each time ..!





-- Chuan

James Brooks
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@Memz Canan:



"Under the Copyright Laws, only the Copyright owner has specific rights to give permission to others to use their work, this is in order for them to be financially renumerated. Therefore, when consumers purchase a new video game, you do not own the game, you are simply paying for the right to private use of the Intellectual Property contained on the disc."



Uh...that's not correct.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine



The article also goes on to note that EULAs are on rather shaky ground: as one court case cited puts it, calling a sale a "license" does not make it so. And it's a moot point for console games anyway: I've yet to have any console game or its packaging clearly and explicitly inform me that there is a licensing agreement I must consent to in order to play the game.



"This is probably because consumer may not fully understand or appreciate exactly how much time, finance, resources and skill involved in the value chain to develop, test, manufacture, package, marketing + promotion and distribution for the release of a AAA game.



Consumers just need to take a moment to look at the credits of these games, notice both how many people are involved and the differenet roles they are involved in when developing a game. The people involved are highly qualified and skilled individuals, they work on a project to meet both expectations, budgets and deadlines. Often these projects can last 24-36 months from the concept to shipping to retailers."



Who cares?



I'm not saying this to be mean, but really? The fact that 400+ people spent two or more years of their lives on Assassin's Creed II is utterly irrelevant to whether or not I find it a satisfactory gaming experience. How hard some people worked and how big the marketing budget was means nothing if the game doesn't deliver.

Alex Covic
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I'm sorry to chime in and maybe I read too quickly...



... did anyone mention, *why* kids trade in their 'used games' in the first place?



When you stop selling a physical 'retail product' (with all the legal implications) but rather a 'on-demand' software license/service your problems are solved? But, hey - somebody still wants his cake AND eat it?



If EA goes this route - more power to them. I say this as a consumer. Just build your business model and marketing strategies on legal grounds. You are still selling software 'products' instead of licenses? Stop selling retail copies and really your prob... but wait, there's the cake thing again...

Apostolos Zacharopoulos
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If EA is thinking along the same lines as the Cerberus Network for Mass Effect 2, then I do not find any problem with that.It's just one incentive more for the people to buy your game new and so get more money. For those of you who did not play the game, you are not really missing much. Just a Single NPC and a couple of items, all of which DO NOT give you any spectacular advantage in it. Basically, it is not that much of an incentive to be honest. The game plays fantastic without them.



That is not the same though as saying that if you don't buy it new but used, then you don't get to play an integral part of the game like e.g. Multiplayer.This is plainly wrong. I will explain.



1.The SALE is FINAL. I paid 50$, the price YOU SET and so I can do WHATEVER I want with it, provided I do not rent it, say I made it etc WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION. The last part is key. Do you really think that all the shops that rent games would get to do it if they did not have the perimission of EA? Any parent company has obviously seen some merit in letting people rent and so continue doing it while the devise more ways to make even more money.

2.We go back to the argument of lost sales. This only makes sence if you are ABSOLUTELY 100% SURE that EVERY used/pirated game would translate to an ACTUAL SALE. This is simply false. Most people use these ways to enjoy products that they simply WOULD NOT BUY with their money, whether they have enough or not.The rest are still doubtful if they would buy it or simply borrow it from a friend, just to check it out.

3.I have NEVER, EVER sold or traded a game that I liked and wanted to keep.As other have post before me, there is a reason why people trade games in. They feel that they do not want them any more. Usually that is because of low replay value (e.g. Uncharted/Heavy Rain/Prince of Persia) or because they were not that good in the first place.

4.As I have posted elsewhere, the simplest solution against the used market would be for people to trade in electronically their CD-key in order to acquire a significant discount for that company's next title. By having the CD-Key deactivated you effectively kill the re-sale value of the game.If people then sold them back to a used game shop, then the shop could re-activate the CD-Key for a fee towards the parent company EA.This way everybody wins. The company gets to re-sell the same game, the used game shop makes money, the player gets either money or discounts and everybody is happy.



If you liked the above proposition, now hear why it will NEVER HAPPEN. EA,Ubisoft etc, do not care about discounts or anything else. They care about having their cake and eating it.They want a piece of the used game market but at the same time also want to maintain high retail prices. They do not want to offer a service, like 7$ per month to play e.g. Uncharted 2 because they know that most players will finish the game in 1-2 months and then stop paying. So this way they would make 14$ when they could make 50$+ (and at the same time probably will not be able to recuperate their 30mil investment).



PS.To all people predicting the end of the publishers, I remind the words of a designer that went from working in a company to indie: "Someone must put these billboards up in Singapore and it sure as hell ain't gonna be me."

Sean Kiley
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People buying used games either don't have $60 or $70 to spend on new games or don't want to. The DLC thing won't change that.

David Brady
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How on earth did we get to this point in games? Where people seem to honestly be campaigning to abolish the right of resale? Villainizing the people who sell used goods. It's honestly quite insane. By this logic, the salvation army should have to pay the clothing designers for reselling their clothing. Or the customer should have to pay a fee to the designer to wear the clothes in public.

Richard Carrillo
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@Alan Rimkeit



The biggest issue is that any other industry's largest retail chain doesn't sell new right next to used. Only in the games industry will you find a New Games Rack right next to a Used Games Rack with the price marked down $5. Gamers enter the store to buy a game new and are stolen at the last second 'cause "why not save $5?"



For a used car lot, they have to advertise to bring in customers. For Gamestop, the publishers are the ones advertising just to lose customers.

scott stevens
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Are there really that many people who don't know what games they want to play until they go into a Gamestop or other store? I'm pretty sure that most people go into the store already knowing what game they want and who makes it - so if the store goes away (for example, is not able to sustain itself because people stop buying as many used games due to the value of new games being much greater), then people will just download the games they want directly from the developer or publisher. I've only set foot into a Gamestop one time in my entire life, and that was because the friend that I was with wanted to buy another microphone for his Beatles Rock Band set.

You can get almost any game out there downloaded directly to your device by hooking up yer intertubes to the developer website and paying them for it. It's fast, convenient, usually cheaper than retail and you don't even have to put on pants to do it.

Ian Torn
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@David Brady



The big difference between Salvation Army and Gamestop is, Salvation Army receives things by donation then sold for a low price specifically for lower income people who can't afford designer clothing.The price is substantially lower for the clothing or other good donated to Salvation Army then what the item was originally sold for. Gamestop/EB Games gives the consumer a $5-$10 credit for a trade-in. A used game sells for $10 less than the new copy of the game. That's just stupid and the reason I do not by used games. I'll fork over the extra $10 for a game I know has not been tampered with in any way, plus now the extra content used games will not be getting.

Memz Canan
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@James Brooks



"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine"



"The article also goes on to note that EULAs are on rather shaky ground: as one court case cited puts it, calling a sale a "license" does not make it so. And it's a moot point for console games anyway: I've yet to have any console game or its packaging clearly and explicitly inform me that there is a licensing agreement I must consent to in order to play the game."



"Who cares?"



"I'm not saying this to be mean, but really? The fact that 400+ people spent two or more years of their lives on Assassin's Creed II is utterly irrelevant to whether or not I find it a satisfactory gaming experience. How hard some people worked and how big the marketing budget was means nothing if the game doesn't deliver. "





You do have a point that there is alot of confusion about Intellectual Property law, First Sale Doctrine and EULA!



That could be because the First Sale Doctrine was introduced over 100 years ago, I am not that good at history, but I doubt there were any video games at that time for this doctrine to be applicable this type of "product" ! Therefore, the decsion of whether the EULAs are applicable or not would come down to an appointed Judges interpretation of a doctrine more than a century old, and their decision can be based on precedent from past cases relating to the First Sale Doctrine, rather than Copyright law for Intellectual Property!



While I understand your point about the lack of detailed information on the limited space of a disc stating what you can do with your purchase, it is still stated in Copyright law that the owner of the works has the sole right to distribution, or what many of us refer to as re-sell or trade !



It maybe true that the huge effort, time, money and resource put into producing a game may not be relevant to your satisfactory gaming experience or wether or not the game delivers on your expectation.



The fact remains that if an Intellectual Property owner can not use the law that was develooped to protect their rights as creators/owners of these video games for exploitation and to generate revenue, then what incentive is their for them to create jobs and continue to produce these games ?



We may find ourselves in the future being left with vast amounts of the old titles available, which some people appear to loath, and with very few new titles in development for us to look forward to.

Memz Canan
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@Christian Kiechel



"I wonder, if all the people, that complain about used game sales take in consideration, that many customers sell their old games, to get money to buy new games. If they aren't able to sell their games anymore, they will be fewer new games. "



I'm not trying to demonize any person who re-sells or trades their old games as it is probably true that they do buy new games too and I'm not demonizing the pre-owned specialists for providing their service, all I'm stating is that legally the Copyright owner has the distribution rights as an incentive, which is to generate income for their work.

Memz Canan
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@David Brady



"How on earth did we get to this point in games? Where people seem to honestly be campaigning to abolish the right of resale? Villainizing the people who sell used goods. It's honestly quite insane. By this logic, the salvation army should have to pay the clothing designers for reselling their clothing. Or the customer should have to pay a fee to the designer to wear the clothes in public. "





Intellectual Property and Copyright law relates to the following categories:



Literary

Musical

Dramatic

Pantomimes and choreographic works

Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works

Audiovisual works

Sound recordings

Derivative works

Compilations

Architectural works





The clothes that we purchase are the "product", however, this does not apply to video games as the content is the "product" not the disc or device that embodies that content !



This is something that even the professionals at the major record and publishing companies/corporations in the music industry had a very hard time understanding, when they first encountered their huge problem with the illegal physical CD copies and P2P file sharing networks, most notably, Napster and Grokster etc.



These professionals whole heartedly believed that the CDs themselves was their actual "products" and not the music compositions/recordings contained on those discs, it took awhile before they realized !

Memz Canan
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@Apostolos Zacharopoulos





"2.We go back to the argument of lost sales. This only makes sence if you are ABSOLUTELY 100% SURE that EVERY used/pirated game would translate to an ACTUAL SALE. This is simply false. Most people use these ways to enjoy products that they simply WOULD NOT BUY with their money, whether they have enough or not.The rest are still doubtful if they would buy it or simply borrow it from a friend, just to check it out."



If people choose to buy used/pre-owned games then that does translate to an actual sale, for which the publisher doesn't receive any revenue, and they would rely only on the sale transactions of games they distributed to retailers to recieve revenue.



Furthermore, some people may decide they will not pay for the content (pirate/cracked copies) but they still choose to "enjoy" those "products", then technically that may have translated to an actual sale had those people been restricted access to the content without the publisher recieving any revenue !

Apostolos Zacharopoulos
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@ Memz Canan



"If people choose to buy used/pre-owned games then that does translate to an actual sale, for which the publisher doesn't receive any revenue, and they would rely only on the sale transactions of games they distributed to retailers to recieve revenue."



No it doesn't. Ask around and you will see for yourself.I have lost count of the times that I have talked about that with people of various backgrounds and still the answer comes back the same: "No, i wouldn't buy". Its the same thing with music. Most people would never hear the amount of music they have heard because the sheer amount of money required to buy all these cds (without resorting to borrowing, youtube, file sharing etc) would be so high that they simply would choose not to do it. They may buy 1 or 2 games that they absolutely like, but only after having tried them through demos or from friends. But they do that today, anyway.So no argument here.



"Furthermore, some people may decide they will not pay for the content (pirate/cracked copies) but they still choose to "enjoy" those "products", then technically that may have translated to an actual sale had those people been restricted access to the content without the publisher recieving any revenue !"



Again the same mistake. You ASSUME that they would want it so bad, that they would be willing to give 50$ with no chance of redeeming any of it through resaling.People regularly download games to check them out or if they think that they are not worth their money.That is a long way to say that if no other way existed those same people would go out and buy them.Btw, I know of occasions when people have tried a pirated copy and then went and bought the original. Does that point to piracy actually helping sales? I think not.



PS.Lost income is a sad fact but really, there is no argument that can justify the war against the used market.I believe that a solution like the one I gave above, easy to implement and realistic, benefits all parties involved.

I would appreciate any thoughts on this idea btw.Do you think it could work or do you see any big flaw in it?

James Brooks
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@ Memz Canan



"That could be because the First Sale Doctrine was introduced over 100 years ago, I am not that good at history, but I doubt there were any video games at that time for this doctrine to be applicable this type of "product" ! Therefore, the decsion of whether the EULAs are applicable or not would come down to an appointed Judges interpretation of a doctrine more than a century old, and their decision can be based on precedent from past cases relating to the First Sale Doctrine, rather than Copyright law for Intellectual Property!"



A court decision relating to the use of copyrights and intellectual property...is not copyright law? You might want to check your logic there. And in a common law system judge interpretations of the law do matter. Also, if you read what I linked you'd know that it was a 1908 Supreme Court decision that was later codified in the Copyright Act of 1976. Not exactly 100 years in the latter case.



Ignoring the dubiousness of the "time" argument, however (do you consider the First Amendment to be irrelevant, given that it was written nearly two hundred years before telephones, e-mail, and the Internet?), you need to prove why video games are so special and unique compared to music, movies, or books that they are suddenly not subject to the first sale doctrine. This is...an uphill battle, to put it mildly.



"While I understand your point about the lack of detailed information on the limited space of a disc stating what you can do with your purchase, it is still stated in Copyright law that the owner of the works has the sole right to distribution, or what many of us refer to as re-sell or trade !"



They have the right to the FIRST sale. Anything beyond that--provided the purchaser does not make copies or otherwise reproduce the work--is fair game.



I'm not a lawyer, but I'd imagine not having any mention of any sort binding of licensing agreement anywhere on your product's packaging or in the product's actual content means that the buyer is not entering into a licensing agreement.



"The fact remains that if an Intellectual Property owner can not use the law that was develooped to protect their rights as creators/owners of these video games for exploitation and to generate revenue, then what incentive is their for them to create jobs and continue to produce these games ?"



Except that the law DOES protect their intellectual property rights. Used games are perfectly kosher, and no amount of stamping and pouting is going to change that.



"We may find ourselves in the future being left with vast amounts of the old titles available, which some people appear to loath, and with very few new titles in development for us to look forward to."



Which would be a disaster of the industry's own making, not used games.

Memz Canan
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@Apostolos Zacharopoulos



"4.As I have posted elsewhere, the simplest solution against the used market would be for people to trade in electronically their CD-key in order to acquire a significant discount for that company's next title. By having the CD-Key deactivated you effectively kill the re-sale value of the game.If people then sold them back to a used game shop, then the shop could re-activate the CD-Key for a fee towards the parent company EA.This way everybody wins. The company gets to re-sell the same game, the used game shop makes money, the player gets either money or discounts and everybody is happy."



That is a logically approach and can be implemented using barcode systems, it would certaintly be resolve the publishers issue of revenue and specialist stores could build better relationships with the publishers by providing valuable info on pre-owned title sales, maybe the publishers marketing department could benefit too for trend analysis and feedback directly from their consumers.

Memz Canan
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@James Brooks



Fair point there is no licence agreement that it is clearly stated on any packaging, but the various DLC available from the online marketplace on the Xbox 360 for instance, does state the conditions of use such as the downlaod is only tied to the account and console that original purchased the content and other accounts on that console may also access that content.





"And in a common law system judge interpretations of the law do matter."



P.S. I missed a comma in the sentence and should have read:



"whether the EULAs are applicable or not, would come down to an appointed Judges interpretation"

scott stevens
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@Christian

"I don't know, from where you draw the knowledge, that people who buy their games at Gamestop will buy them directly from the developer or publisher"



I'm not saying that I'm drawing from expert knowledge - I'm saying that consumers have a much more convenient way to get the games they want, and that the vast majority of games consumers are well aware of the products that they want without needing to rely on a store to tell them what games are out.



My point by bringing up the fact that I have no need for a GameStop was to illustrate this fact. I literally own hundreds of games, and am a Game Designer myself. I was able to purchase all of these games without needing to go to GameStop, and like many people, prefer to get my games without having to go to a store.



In fact, I would advocate for games going to full digital distribution - instead of just having *some* of your game content available for digital distribution, you should have your entire game only available digitally. Better for the consumer, less overhead costs, better for the environment.


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