EA Considering Paid DLC Before Game Release

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EA Considering Paid DLC Before Game Release

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A financial analyst met with Electronic Arts and then divulged more of the publishing giant's digital download strategy: expanded demos that cost $10 - $15.

The head of EA's Visceral Studios, Nick Earl, met with Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan in order to woo the analyst into more favorably valuing EA stock. Wedbush Morgan has been undervaluing EA for years, but Pachter liked what he heard about the massive publishing company's attempts to cash-in on digital sales and its "project $10." The next step for EA is to begin releasing smaller versions of their upcoming games for around $10 to $15 on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. This "premium downloadable content" would essentially function as large demos, build marketing buzz, and allow developers to fix glaring problems. Pachter penned a note to potential investors upon re-valuing the stock for Electronic Arts.

"The PDLC would be sold for $10 or $15 through Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, and would essentially be a very long game demo, along the lines of 2009's Battlefield 1943," Pachter's note read. "A full-blown packaged game would follow shortly after the release of the PDLC, bearing a full retail price. Mr. Earl believes that the release of the PDLC first limits the risk of completing and marketing the full packaged version, and serves as a low-cost marketing tool."

"It actually sounds like a great strategy," he told Game Industry. "I don't know if they intend to include the PDLC in the packaged product, but my guess is that they won't. I think that the PDLC will be a 'prequel' to the full game, so that they can keep selling it after release of the full game."

This plan, coupled with EA's focus on reducing costs and its ongoing DLC strategy with games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, was enough for Michael Pachter to reverse his opinion on the giant company.

"We've been wrong about this stock for almost five years," wrote Pachter. He went on:

Either we're stupid, stubborn, or unlucky, but we've been wrong. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, each time hoping for a different result.

This time, while we are again hoping for a different result, we see evidence that the company is not doing the same things over and over again: lower headcount, fewer facilities, fewer games, a greater use of outsourcing, innovative combinations of digital and packaged goods content, a better greenlight process and a growing digital business. This time, we think that EA is on the right path.

It looks like the financial analysts are on board, but what about the consumers. I personally don't think I'd buy a short game if I plan to get the big version. On the other hand, game companies have to reduce cost somehow, and if that means making games in bite-sized chunks and only focusing on the titles which resonate with consumers than so be it.

Source: Gamesindustry.biz

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If it's true, and they acted like paid prequels, I might buy it after I'd completed the main game so I could play through looking for clues and hints for bits I didn't understand. It'd have to be Dragon Age : Origins level good, though.

In fact, I think EA could get away with it, but only if they limited it to BioWare releases.

If it is actually prequel content, and not just content that would have been part of the full game, I might go for this.

But if they are just selling the first 10% of their game and then hitting me up for the full price of the game once it comes out, I'm unlikely to buy into this.

I can wait if the latter is the case.

this just sounds really dodgy to me...
"extended demo" does not sound like content not included in the full release...

Or, here's an idea, you do that...but you take the price of the expanded demo off the main product if they purchase it.

This sounds like one of those ideas i need to see in action before I decide to pass judgement. On the one hand extra content before the game comes out would be great, but on the other hand paying to play a glorified demo sounds terrible.

meganmeave:
If it is actually prequel content, and not just content that would have been part of the full game, I might go for this.

But if they are just selling the first 10% of their game and then hitting me up for the full price of the game once it comes out, I'm unlikely to buy into this.

I can wait if the latter is the case.

I think its more like releasing a stand-alone expansion pack before releasing the game.
But its not a 100 percent clear.... :/

EDIT: Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think its like that at all!

But my idea, I'd argue, is way better! XD

EA's business model in a nutshell.

So it is an expansion pack for a demo? Shouldn't their teams be working on, oh, I don't know, the ACTUAL GAME?

Define "Extended Demo", for 10-15$ I want at least an hour of playtime

It could have the opposite effect. Why buy the full game when you can spend 10 and get all the gameplay without the story. This I think is a step sideways.

It really depends on what it would be. If, it indeed would be a part of tory/gameplay not included in the retail i could consider it for the games im interested in giving a chance to try it out for lower price. Ofcourse still it would depend how long would long mean and how much thought they would put in it.

If, however, it would just be longer dmeo which still would be a part of the full release or would just add so little to the game that it could be considered tutorial then i would expect an option to upgrade to full retail for a price lower accordingly to this PDLC cost.

Maybe they should give stuff like that to players that pre-order. You know. For free?

It could be a good idea, but I would never use it.
I do not even download demos.
I am at the point where if I want it I buy it and do not need to be convinced, in addition, I do not want to dilute the experience by playing the demo... or I just do not want it.

Chipperz:
If it's true, and they acted like paid prequels, I might buy it after I'd completed the main game so I could play through looking for clues and hints for bits I didn't understand. It'd have to be Dragon Age : Origins level good, though.

In fact, I think EA could get away with it, but only if they limited it to BioWare releases.

Or if they released a map pack for Battlefield... before Battlefield came out.

And those maps aren't included in the original game.

Whether you buy the map pack as it's prequel or not, you'd have to get it eventually.

And they could add incentives too. People who get the map pack before the game releases unlock a special weapon or spec.

It could work, but I'm not forking over $15 for a section of a game I'm going to get in full for $60.

EA Games:
Pay us for an incomplete game so that we can fix what's wrong with it!

Hahahahahahahaha.

Oh boy.

All I could think when I read this was "Something's Fishy at Camp Wiganishie"

If the PDLC came with a discount towards purchase of the full game, then I say...Yes! EA can't lose with that, since they make money anyway with the PDLC, and if the gamer buys the full game, then that is just about a sure thing that they will be buying more DLC for that game.
However if you still have to pony up $50-$60 for the full game you already put $10 or such towards...then NO. No, no, no, no, no!

dekkarax:
Or, here's an idea, you do that...but you take the price of the expanded demo off the main product if they purchase it.

I'd be ok with that, or perhaps you get a large chunk of all the DLC for free afterwoulds.

The idea of it being a prequel sounds good, but I don't think i'd ever pay money to buy part of something that I would get the full version of only a month later.

If its proper Prequel content like when they release something extra on XBLA, then i would be okay with it. I also would expect achievements as i am a complete achievement whore.

But if we end up just paying for demos then no way -.-

Mimsofthedawg:

Chipperz:
If it's true, and they acted like paid prequels, I might buy it after I'd completed the main game so I could play through looking for clues and hints for bits I didn't understand. It'd have to be Dragon Age : Origins level good, though.

In fact, I think EA could get away with it, but only if they limited it to BioWare releases.

Or if they released a map pack for Battlefield... before Battlefield came out.

And those maps aren't included in the original game.

Whether you buy the map pack as it's prequel or not, you'd have to get it eventually.

And they could add incentives too. People who get the map pack before the game releases unlock a special weapon or spec.

It could work, but I'm not forking over $15 for a section of a game I'm going to get in full for $60.

That'd only really work if you downloaded a good part of the actual game's engine, which is why I'm so skeptical of this entire idea.

OOH! You could make a series of episodic games (this would require Valve being nowhere near them) whose storyline culminates in a full purchased game? Kinda like if Siren : Blood Curse ended with a full-length Silent Hill game or something?

hmmmm...

they would have to be VERY careful with this PDLC idea, it CAN go horribly wrong.

If, for example, it was a different game, but with the theme/story of the main game and basic gameplay mechanics intact, then it could work...

But just putting a segment of the full game in would be disastrous. BUUUT If they made it so (somehow) you got a discount off the full game if you get the PDLC, then I guess that could work... essentially, you'd be buying a 'taster' segment of the full game to see if you liked it... EA still make (some) profit even if they don't like it.

maybe this could be like buying a bitesize chunk of the game for cheaper. i imagine i might buy modern warfare if i could just get the single player. it would be cool to pay a smaller amount and buy a bitesize game that i could play for 2-3 hours.

RetroVortex:

meganmeave:
If it is actually prequel content, and not just content that would have been part of the full game, I might go for this.

But if they are just selling the first 10% of their game and then hitting me up for the full price of the game once it comes out, I'm unlikely to buy into this.

I can wait if the latter is the case.

I think its more like releasing a stand-alone expansion pack before releasing the game.
But its not a 100 percent clear.... :/

EDIT: Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think its like that at all!

But my idea, I'd argue, is way better! XD

Yeah, it was hard to figure out what they were saying they were going to do. I think they might not even know themselves yet.

A stand alone expansion pack would also be okay. I just don't want to buy the content twice. They kept using the phrase expanded demo, which is a little worrying.

I SPEAK! Quote me if you will. This way lies paid betas. We pay to improve their product. I can think of one way to make this work. That would be your beta payment being refundable or discountable against a purchase of the actual game.

Aside from that..."Oooooooooooh! EA is trying Uber-hard to catch up with Activision and Ubisoft to be all of our favourite satan of the industry".

as long as it's not just a paid beta or something then that sounds like it might be interesting.

If it is a demo, "extended" or not, it should be a part of the full content. If it is part of the full content, and you have to pay for it, there should be a discount in "upgrading" to full-version.

If it is something different from the full content; it isn't a demo, it's a stand-alone game or expansion pack.

This sounds almost like an idea I was reading about a while back, where you would create "episodic" games. Where you make smaller games, more frequently, at cheaper cost.

It was a really novel idea... I should look into how that worked out.

this is basically a company taking advantage of the consumers. the word "Steal" comes to my mind

DLC paid demos.

Fuck it, I'm out. I'm going to find some better hobby to funnel my time and cash into, gaming has just become more retarded than the special olympics.

This is ridiculous.

$10-$15 is not THAT cheap to begin with, and the entire point of a bloody demo is for people to try a game before they buy it and risk money. "Sure why don't you pay %25 of the price up front, to see if your interested in spending another $60 on top of that".

As far as them using this as a way of finding bugs and such, that is what beta testers are supposed to be for. Though truthfully the logic doesn't surprise me because over the last few years I've found companies have no bloody idea what a Beta is supposed to be about anymore. They treat it like a promotional free-play period, rather than an excercise in bug hunting and collecting feedback. I know because I've found numerous bugs months before release while betaing that developers totally ignored even after release. :P


Then again I expect some people will go for it. Gamers have never really rallied, and continued to act like money bags with legs, so I can't see things changing now.

I'll be honest about one thing though, if they did release prequel games for free, that might work as an interesting marketing tool. For example the whole "Journies" Flash game for Dragon Age: Origins *DID* help build the hype for me, especially with the abillity to unlock benefits in the actual game when it released. The free "Pub Games" thing you got with a Fable 2 pre-order was likewise pretty cool for much the same reason. I would like to see more of that, but I would not pay $10-$15 for the honor of experiencing a promotional gimmick. It's their job to suck me in, not my job to pay money begging them to do so.

RikSharp:
this just sounds really dodgy to me...
"extended demo" does not sound like content not included in the full release...

Yeah...This sounds like some kind of sick thoughts from an executivr wanting people to no only spend money tghey dont need to but also to try and make content certainly exclusive to a demo?

...Bad voodoo

Wait wait wait wait. They're making us essentially pay full retail, for half the game? WHy would I want to do this?

The idea's genius! And I have an even better one: Sell only the box, half a year before releasing the game itself, for about 5 bucks. Put out several boxes with different art, even! Make it collectible! Those silly kids will love it! They get to experience part of the game pre-release (hold the box, open and close it, see how it fits in the shelf with their other games - it's interactive and customizable!), you get money and free marketing! Now that I think of it, here's another idea: Sell press kits. Or, even better: Make sites, magazines and TV stations actually pay to show your commercials. They have lots of money, surely they can afford it! How's it possible that no one really thought of this by now? Go!

you know what it sound like to me? A paid for beta test. Sorry, I'm not into that. I don't mind paying a for a beta, but usually when I'm required to do it, it benefits me in the full game (Special gear, and things of that nature) or it comes with a separate game (Halo 3 beta and Halo Reach beta) but just straight up paying for the beta alone? Screw that.

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