THQ Unveils New "Pay in Advance" DLC Purchase Program

THQ Unveils New "Pay in Advance" DLC Purchase Program

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THQ has unveiled the next step in its strategy to combat used game sales: Encouraging customers to keep their games by charging them up-front for DLC that hasn't been released yet.

You've no doubt heard of "try before you buy," but THQ has something a little different in mind for the upcoming WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011. Think of it as "pay before you play": In order to convince gamers not to trade in their copies of the game two weeks after buying them, the publisher is offering a "Fan Axxess" pass (yes, "Axxess," which I assume is how you spell "access" after you've been hit over the head with a chair once too often) for a one-time payment of 800 Microsoft points or $9.99 on the PlayStation Network. The pass will provide access (or "axxess") to "select downloadable content released throughout the life of the game for a one-time anticipated purchase."

That's right, THQ wants you to pay up front for DLC that hasn't even been made yet. Why would you do such a thing? For one thing, it'll be cheaper than buying all the add-ons individually. The first DLC pack, slated for release over the holidays, will cost non-Axxess members 560 Microsoft points (about $7.00), while the second, due in early 2011, will go for 240 points. Fan Axxess will also provide immediate access to more than 60 unlockable items included with the game and there's a certain prestige factor as well, as those who buy into the program will be given "an in-game badge to recognize the videogame's biggest supporters".

"We have some of the most passionate fans in the industry, and we are pleased to offer them an opportunity to access premium gameplay content, customization features and recognition for their loyalty for one price point," said THQ Executive Vice President Danny Bilson.

The DLC updates sound like they'll add a lot to the game, including wrestlers like the British Bulldog and Lex Luger, alternate ring gear and arenas and the "WWE Superstar Attribute Customizer," which will let players set the rankings and attributes of every Legend, Superstar and Diva in the game. But paying for it up-front, sight unseen, sounds a bit dicey. What exactly does "select DLC" mean? And what happens if the game bombs and THQ suddenly decides the budget can't accommodate new content?

I like the Project Ten Dollar concept in general and fully expect it to become a common feature of the videogame industry. But with this, I suspect that THQ might be taking things a little too far. WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 comes out on October 26 for the PlayStation 2 and 3, Xbox 360, Wii and PSP.

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Hmmm... generally this doesn't appeal to me as much as Project 10 Dollar...

For games that I am not too interested in DLC for (Red Faction, WWE, etc) I wouldn't bother.

However if they offer these for Metro 2034 or any Warhammer 40k title then I'm sold.

You know, I always had this crazy idea for preventing games from being traded in after 2 weeks of release.... now bear with me, it's a little out there.... but making quality games. Ya know, games people want to keep playing. I know, it's absurd, and it makes no sense, but I swear it just might work better than crap like this.

uppitycracker:
You know, I always had this crazy idea for preventing games from being traded in after 2 weeks of release.... now bear with me, it's a little out there.... but making quality games. Ya know, games people want to keep playing. I know, it's absurd, and it makes no sense, but I swear it just might work better than crap like this.

And tell me please, in your infinite wisdom, how do you make a game that is considered 'quality' by all and every gamer? How do you make a game that will somewhat convince those that just want to "catch 'em all" and don't really care what game it is as long as it's new? Finally if a game is so 'crap' why do you even buy it in the first place?

I wont buy DLC for a game I haven't actually tried yet but I'm sure there are plenty who will.

uppitycracker:
You know, I always had this crazy idea for preventing games from being traded in after 2 weeks of release.... now bear with me, it's a little out there.... but making quality games. Ya know, games people want to keep playing. I know, it's absurd, and it makes no sense, but I swear it just might work better than crap like this.

And you'll always find a group of people with no life or a stick shove up their ass who will complain about how the game doesn't have what they want it to. You can't please people nowadays. People are just too damned picky. You'll always have people who beat the game just a bit faster than you expected and will demand an add-on

I can get behind project Ten dollar and even kind of like it...but this... I can't see me paying for DLC that I might not even want.

wait what?! how is paying 800 upfront cheaper than paying 560+240 (which by the way is 800)?

I guess you can Pre-order games so y not Pre-order DLC...

Would be comical if they offer this for every game and even games that they had no intentions of making DLC for XD.

p.s. if say they ask u to pay upfront and all future release DLC becomes free (more than 800 points worth) I can see this being ok. Kinda wish for something like this from Rockstar for Red Dead Redemption.

Andy needs to redo the math again, you are paying the EXACT same amount whether you pre-pay or pay when it comes out.

And yes, Axxess is retarded. Things aren't always cooler with an 'x' in it.

I'm not sure I'm understanding. Can you just play normally and wait for 800 points worth of content to be released before paying the fee, or does it force it right away?

Either way, sounds poorly thought out. I'm no fan of project ten dollar in it's current state (slash the purchase price by $10 and I'm sold), but at least I can see the logic in it.

JaredXE:
Andy needs to redo the math again, you are paying the EXACT same amount whether you pre-pay or pay when it comes out.

And yes, Axxess is retarded. Things aren't always cooler with an 'x' in it.

That's the first thing I thought of too, it must just be an error.

Compared to PTD, it doesnt sound as good. What if the dev who makes the DLC goes bust during the expected lifetime of their DLC roadmap. What if the DLC is unannounced and turns out to be utter phish.

Vohn_exel:
I can get behind project Ten dollar and even kind of like it...but this... I can't see me paying for DLC that I might not even want.

But isn't the priciple just the same as the Publisher's Club on the Escapist? We're paying in advance for content that we may not even want.

I see it as just a Publisher's Club for Smackdown vs Raw, you support the company and in return get access to better items & features in the future, item & features that people who don't join the club won't get unless they pay as well.

At least the Publisher's Club doesn't have a dumb name like Axxess, I probably wouldn't have joined if it was called Da Exxkapist Pubblisha's Klub.

How about we just send them money and they'll just tell us when they might release a game too? .... Thanks but no thanks

The math is fine. The offer is for DLC "released throughout the life of the game," not just the first two updates that have been announced.

Of course, that's where it gets dodgy, because what if the first two are the only two? It's still a break-even prospect but it's a bit misleading if it draws in people who might otherwise not be all that terribly interested in the DLC. It might be a great deal. But it might not.

Mass Effect 2, for $70 I got this and the pathetic DLC that came with it.
Now the game retails for approx $30, $20 used. Had I waited (which isn't exactly hard to do) I would have gotten the game, Lair, Stolen, and Overlord for a total of $54. So for $16 less than I paid, I could have gotten to play more of the game than I can now?

I don't expect I'll be buying new anymore.

wont play this game, but if bioware did something like this for dragon age 2 or mass effect 3, i'd do it for sure.

Icehearted:
Mass Effect 2, for $70 I got this and the pathetic DLC that came with it.
Now the game retails for approx $30, $20 used. Had I waited (which isn't exactly hard to do) I would have gotten the game, Lair, Stolen, and Overlord for a total of $54. So for $16 less than I paid, I could have gotten to play more of the game than I can now?

I don't expect I'll be buying new anymore.

This is the real uphill battle publishers find themselves in now. Folks have overall come around to the idea that you DON'T have to have the hot new release game at launch, because most of the time you're just going to get the same game experience for less later on. It's not an easy thing to fix, and ideas like this aren't going to do much about that secondary market. Quality DLC, however, will; if a game has strong enough DLC support and the DLC is worth a damn, then people picking up a used game will inevitably buy the DLC if possible, thus tossing some additional money into the pot.

Of course, this IS in reference to an annual sports game series, so the lifespan is limited at best. Not sure this of all things was the right subject to roll this out through.

So what happens if the game's DLC suffers the same fate as a certain Duke game? Ten dollars that you'll never get to use, or see.

"Pay in advance"?

How about "Fuck you right now", THQ?

GamesB2:
However if they offer these for Metro 2034 or any Warhammer 40k title then I'm sold.

"Hey, wanna have a patch that makes Soulstorm suck less? Well, for $10 we'll set you up to the top of the download queue when we make it"

3 months later: "Whoops, looks like Iron Lore went bankrupt, anyway, the icecream I bought with your $10 was delicious, also please go buy this sequel with several huge expansion pack shaped holes in it at full price"

"PS: want to pre-order the patch that gets rid of GFWL eventually for $15"?

It depends if you trust the developers or not. If it was Rockstar I wouldnt mind, they do good and many DLC's

Asehujiko:
"Hey, wanna have a patch that makes Soulstorm suck less? Well, for $10 we'll set you up to the top of the download queue when we make it"

3 months later: "Whoops, looks like Iron Lore went bankrupt, anyway, the icecream I bought with your $10 was delicious, also please go buy this sequel with several huge expansion pack shaped holes in it at full price"

"PS: want to pre-order the patch that gets rid of GFWL eventually for $15"?

I'm fully aware of the complications, however with Metro 2034 and any Warhammer 40k title I'd be willing to take the risk.

Also I most certainly do not want the patch that removes GFWL but I'd like the one that adds it.

if they want this to impact used sales at all then they should be giving that code out for free with new copies of games, not trying to pass it off as pay before you get anything and then risk them not putting out the dlc, no thanks

There are far too many instances of cancelled DLC for this to be a good idea, let alone all the DLC that is just rubbish (ie most of it). I think you'd have to be a massive fan of the series to be tempted by this.

I only ever played one wrestling game and I hated it - couldn't figure out how to play it. Admitedly this probably wasn't the game's fault. I was just playing it at a friend's house so didn't have time to read the manual or anything.

Uhm, thanks but no thanks THQ!

Also, that "Axxess" name reminds me of Graham's crossover into ZP: "What makes any game cooler and more likely to appeal to the youth? The letter X. Slap it on anywhere!" Except pretend he said DLC instead of game or something. And of course, two X's means double the coolness.

Jamash:

Vohn_exel:
I can get behind project Ten dollar and even kind of like it...but this... I can't see me paying for DLC that I might not even want.

But isn't the priciple just the same as the Publisher's Club on the Escapist? We're paying in advance for content that we may not even want.

I see it as just a Publisher's Club for Smackdown vs Raw, you support the company and in return get access to better items & features in the future, item & features that people who don't join the club won't get unless they pay as well.

At least the Publisher's Club doesn't have a dumb name like Axxess, I probably wouldn't have joined if it was called Da Exxkapist Pubblisha's Klub.

Well I don't know about everyone else, but I joined the Pub club because I supported the Escapist and the things it had already done, not what it was printing out. So I guess if you wanted to support THQ for what they'd already done, then you wouldn't have much of an issue with it.

I love the GTA4, Fallout 3, Dragon Age, etc...model of DLC. I get to buy a game used to get a good taste of it, and if I like it then I can happily justify pumping more money into DLC to expand the experience. It's a win/win for everyone.

This...when I really think about it, isn't much different but it leaves a worse impression. I guess because I don't trust company's to deliver on their promises and therefore the prospect of paying up front for something that may be crap or non-existent sours me. I love THQ, but I don't have THAT much faith in them.

It's an interesting idea. I know that if Fallout: New Vegas offered such a thing I'd already be the proud owner of a bunch of DLC I've never heard of yet. The important thing to remember is that it's an option. People are free to dislike it, they can buy the DLC as it comes out if they don't like the idea of putting money down on something that isn't announced yet, let-alone released. However, I don't think anyone can be justified in saying it's a flat-out bad idea simply because they have that option.

Now, if a company said that they were going to go with a plan like this, but you couldn't buy the DLC separately when it's out? Then yeah I'd be right there with the people complaining about it. So basically it's like this:

Option: Great idea.
Mandatory: Bat-shit-fucking-insane.

Yes so they can take your money before you can find out if its any good. By targeting people with weak impulse control, they get more money.

At a sales point of view, smart. Though I would never buy something unless I knew it was okay, most DLC are overpriced for the content.

(Off-Topic DLC Rant)
I hate the idea of DLC in the first place. If some remember Bioshock 2, it had the DLC on the installation CD but you couldn't access it without buying the DLC separately. It's a cheap way to milk the public for more money. How does this sound, you can buy the game. Take for instance Mass Effect 2, Shadow Broker DLC. You pay $9.99 for 1/10 of the content. Maybe even less. Seem like a good deal?

GamesB2:
Also I most certainly do not want the patch that removes GFWL but I'd like the one that adds it.

You never played DoW2 then.

Asehujiko:
You never played DoW2 then.

I have DOW2, Chaos Rising, Tinker, Game Room, Universe At War and I'm getting Halo 2.

Problem?

Oh THQ! It's almost like you're trying to make us hate you!

Can someone clear something up for me - obviously GameStop give 0% of their used-games profits to publishers, but what about GAME in the UK?

OT: Meh, companies pull worse tricks than this every day. At least they're being upfront about it.

I recently bought Dragon Age and Mass Effect second hand and was forced to fork out extra for the DLC, meaning that it ended up costing just a little less than the new game. So in the future I will buy new games. But it was my decision to begrudgingly buy the extra content, and not before thoroughly checking out whether it was worth it or not by reading the reviews. No one stole my money - I spent it myself on something I wanted. So we can't get a cheap-ass deal anymore. So what? We should be concerned about game quality, not bargain hunting.

Prices go up all the time in all sorts of industries as owners try to reclaim their expenditures - expenditures on top-quality products. Games publishers look worse than your average company because they are having to be clever to deal with a huge part of their industry that eats all their profits (although not really so different from the music industry battling the pirates - in fact, games companies are at least compensating by giving you incentives through extra content, instead of just trying to jail you). As for the current DLCs on offer not being 'worth it', give them a break - DLC is still in its relative infancy, especially for certain publishers, and the market needs to be tested. If you think a DLC looks crap, don't buy it and then moan about it - simply put your thinking cap on, wait until the reviews and responses to the DLC arrive a few days into release, and then make an informed decision. And if its a little disappointing, get over it, and be more critical of the next DLC before you buy it.

In other words, buy DLC like you would buy, I don't know... everything else you've ever bought?

Really? someone honestly thinks THQ has gone to far, I wonder if there was a counter point.

"You think THQ has gone to far *Dramatic Pause* I don't think they've gone far enough!"

 

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