EA's Free-To-Play GM Says $60 Games Are "Exploitative"

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EA's Free-To-Play GM Says $60 Games Are "Exploitative"

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EA's free-to-play general manager thinks $60 is too big a price of entry for a videogame.

Along with the current generation of videogame consoles came a 20% hike in the price of the average new release. Games that were once priced $50, are now typically priced at $60, and gamers have just had to accept it. Though EA has plenty of $60 games on the market, general manager of EA free-to-play branch Easy Studios believes the price point is awfully "harsh."

Speaking to RPS, Cousins revealed that he thinks a $60 price unnecessarily puts up a wall that gamers shouldn't be forced to scale. In addition, he thinks it exploits consumers.

"I can't think of anything more exploitative than gating all of your content behind having to pay someone $60," Cousins said. "That's a really harsh business model if you think about it objectively."

Cousins added that free-to-play gaming is much more lenient on consumers, allowing them to walk away without losing anything if they decide a game is awful. Anyone that bought Bomberman Zero at $60 probably agrees with him with all the fury in their being.

In way way though, it seems like Cousins is comparing apples to oranges. Free-to-play games are typically online, multiplayer experiences supported by microtransactions. Currently, there doesn't seem to be a way to switch a single player game bought in a store to a free-to-play model, other than a publisher releasing a demo, which doesn't necessarily tell the whole tale. Heavy Rain would probably have a lot of trouble asking players to pay $1 to "Jason." Games with big budgets have to recoup that investment in a realistic way.

Still, I think most gamers would agree that the $60 price point turns us off to buying as many games as we would like. We've become more cautious about our buying habits, in fear of wasting the cost of a night out on another subpar third-person shooter. Perhaps if publishers heeded Cousins' words and were more honest with themselves about the worth of their products, titles that become failures at $60 could become successes at $40.

Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

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Compared to other mediums our price point is fine.
films cost what 15 dollars
thats mayber 2.5 hours
a game costs what 60 dollars
so your willing to pay 4 times it for 4 times the length. 10 hours is a short game in my books. (yes im including multiplayer.

Its an expensive hobby. but not more than people can afford.

Torchlight is a prime example of this. I'd rate it pretty average out of my game collection, but for the price I feel I got more than my money's worth. Never would have bought it at $60. Still waiting for Black Ops to get cheaper before I buy it.

The reason I want to see a new pricing structure implemented is because it'll take pressure off of developers to include everything on the "checklist".

Like you could sell call of duty's multi player for two thirds of the price and then the singleplayer for a third. the end result could even amount to more than $60.

allow the consumer to buy what they want or buy it all together for a bundle price. In this day and age its not hard to try it out.

It doesn't annoy me paying £40-45 on a game, what annoys me is when there is content on the game you have to pay to unlock

HINTED HINT FUCKING HINT

EDIT: Actually after I though about it, say the cost of a film is £100 million, what does that come from? Lighting, make up, animation, sound, editors, corporate executives etc but a good portion, goes to celebrities. Take a look at Charlie Sheen, he makes 2 million a week and if a film takes a year to make, think how much is going to the actors who are paid far too much. At least you can feel good in yourself that there are no big shot no talent celebrities making money off of you been suckered into seeing a shit film. At least with games there are millions of reviews and you know what you are paying for.
Sorry my point isn't that clear, I'm going to bed

Clever. To be honest a lot of those "free to play" games ultimatly cost more than boxed games when you get down to it. To begin with they start out accessible, the idea being to get people hooked, and then start requiring more and more money to remain competitive. People have invested hundreds of dollars into games like "Farmville" over a period of time, sometimes without even realizing how much they have spent.

What's more those $60 games *ARE* using a microtransaction system, you shell that out, and then there is "DLC", every thing a game company can cut away from a game and sell seperatly they do.

What's more the $60 price point is exploitive, but since people pay it, junkie lke, there is no real reason to lower the price. Heck I'd argue a lot of games cost as much as $100 or more for the full experience when you consider the DLC angle.

I'd like to see the industry change, but in the end all ranting about it doesn't matter since they won't change UNLESS people stop buying the products at the current prices.

Truthfully as exploitive as the $60 games are, I think the whole "Free To Play" movement is even worse, it just hasn't fully snowballed yet, but it's getting there. The simple fact that people CAN pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for things like "Smurfberries" in "free to play" games, shows the problem, as is the simple fact that they games are designed to lure the simple (or children) into wasting vast amount of money on virtual property for a game.

So the company that charges people 10 dollars who buy a used copy of a game that costs less than 60 bucks thinks paying 60 bucks is a crazy? Hmmm... somehow I feel not everyone is communicating with each other at EA.

Didn't N64 games used to cost $80 new? I also remember seeing an old Nintendo Power advertising NES games (it was an old issue) for around $75 a pop. I could be wrong though, my memory is garbage.

bahumat42:
Compared to other mediums our price point is fine.
films cost what 15 dollars
thats mayber 2.5 hours
a game costs what 60 dollars
so your willing to pay 4 times it for 4 times the length. 10 hours is a short game in my books. (yes im including multiplayer.

Its an expensive hobby. but not more than people can afford.

A great point. Going to the local cinema, you would pay anything between (roughly) $8 (for an early show) to $20+ (if you're watching a 3D film, not counting snacks) for 1.5 - 3 hours of entertainment. Buying DVDs and Blu-Rays runs between (roughly) $5 and $250+ based on what you're buying, the time you get with those discs are greatly increased but it's still a linear medium, movies and TV shows.

For a game you're paying between (roughly) $40 and $120 new for something that will last you at least 4 hours from beginning to end, not counting time spent in multiplayer.

I'm happy with the current price of games. It could be a whole lot worse.

I know hardcore gamers who never spent more than $15 on AAA titles because of Steam. So yeah. You don't really have to buy titles at launch date - let all the professional and user reviews come out, let the prices depreciate... and go in for the kill when it's low enough.

Just like the movies and television.

Some games are given a huge budget akin to a summer blockbuster. A game like that needs to sell at least a million units in order for it to barely be profitable.

The stuff you can get on the Net through the PSN or XBLA are like independent movies. They cost less to produce, but are easier to turn a profit on. Some like Angry Birds and Amnesia become huge successes.

In something that defies logic, the game studio would rather put all of their money into one game rather than spreading them out over multiple ones. It turns out that it is a lot easier to tun a profit on one movie than multiple ones.

Shoggoth2588:
Didn't N64 games used to cost $80 new? I also remember seeing an old Nintendo Power advertising NES games (it was an old issue) for around $75 a pop. I could be wrong though, my memory is garbage.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't N64 games run on cartridges? Cartridges were much more expensive than CDs or DVDs...

Consumers are capable of deciding what's worth their money and what they find exploitive. Releasing a compelling product and decide what you think it's worth. Consumers can figure out for themselves whether or not to agree with you. But until you release that product, just shut up.

Free to play for the sake of it is also stupid.

Idea! Price games according to popularity. Highly anticipated sequels like Modern Warfare Future Soldier Kill Bad Guy X should be priced at $80-$100, while new IP's should be priced at $20-$30 and only mid range fairly popular games should be priced at $60.

The PC is at the forefront of implementing proper pricing, largely due to digital distribution sales and the massive number of indie and small developers who understand how to price their games (Magicka is STILL selling at $9.99). Digital distribution, unlike retail, allows games to sell for much longer and lowering price causes a much greater increase in profits, so it's beneficial to stray away from standard prices.

We're seeing the upping of prices with many supposedly popular PC titles, although this is mostly bad implementation as publishers instantly assume that if it's marketed for console and ported to PC that PC gamers will shell out $60 for it even though it's not built for PC's. The only developers that can justify a $60 on PC are Blizzard and Valve.

Consoles still lag behind, but I'm sure we'll get digital sales in the future and console gamers and journalists will hail the revolution of digital distribution as Xbox Live 2 and PSN 2 start to actually compete while ignoring that Steam did it 5+ years earlier.

You mean $60 for a new game, plus another $10+ for all the first day downloadable content.
Right EA?

No shit, sherlock. Turn those "$" into "€" and that's the price over here.
So will something be done about it? No?
How deeply surprising.

bahumat42:
Compared to other mediums our price point is fine.
films cost what 15 dollars
thats mayber 2.5 hours
a game costs what 60 dollars
so your willing to pay 4 times it for 4 times the length. 10 hours is a short game in my books. (yes im including multiplayer.

Its an expensive hobby. but not more than people can afford.

But this argument is largely about risk and investment.

If I go to see Drive Angry (haven't seen, just picking a film that I'd deemed 'risky' in my head when I saw the trailer) in the theater and it's awful and I leave early, I'm out $15.

When I bought FFXIII for $60, and decided it was awful, I was out $60. The fact that the game features 40 hours of gameplay or whatever wasn't any comfort when about 15-20 hours in I'd decided my nostalgia for Final Fantasy wasn't enough to overcome the fact that I did not enjoy the game and hadn't enjoy the last 15-20 hours of waiting for the game to magically turn back into FFVI.

The fact that I could have, say, 10-40 hours of awful experience versus 1.5-2.5 hours of awful experience isn't really a comfort at that point.

When games are good, yeah, they're great values for the money. You'll get no argument from me there. However, when they're crap, they're expensive crap. What is being argued here is that people would be willing to try more games if there wasn't the risk that they'd spend a fairly sizable chunk of cash on something which turned out to be completely not their thing.

This would also be less of a problem if you could return video games to the store on account of "it was crap," but the industry has ensured that's not an option.

EDIT - also, it's hilarious for "nickle and dime you" EA having someone talk about how one could price things better. I wouldn't mind being nickled and dimed for, say, a $15 game, but when it's $60 + First Day DLC, that really does feel exploitative.

Eh, split single player games into episodes. Sell said episodes for 5-10 dollars a piece. Help the less fortunate gamer get his game on. (Even if he/she has to wait for the next paycheck to catch up. I remember how that goes.)

I mean $60 is too much. I should be able to buy two new releases for $100+tax. It'd certainly make it more feasible to buy more then two games every 4 months. Gaming is a hobby, and if it keeps getting more expensive, I might just have to take up painting.

Statements like Cousin's drive me up the wall.

Here we have a crowd of gamers demanding 60fps hi-def graphics, with high-poly models and high-res skins, with professional voice-acting and sophisticated audio mixing, for over 20 hours of single-player gameplay... but don't charge the little dears more than you would for a browser game; oh, no, that would be exploitative.

I'm normally pretty careful with my language here, but the only response that even remotely approaches my sentiment about people demanding this is, "Fuck 'em." They don't want to pay what it costs to make the game? Fine; they can not buy the game, and keep on being ignored by studios they way car companies ignore crazies on the street demanding $100 cars that run on water.

-- Steve

Good man, good man.

I wish game companies would just release base games at a cheaper price and continue to offer optional DLC at a separate price. I think that's the closest to F2P's microtransactions they can come. But yeah, the main reason I don't buy most games when they come out is because they're $50-60 out the starting gate. When I exercise a little patience, I can go to my local used game store and get it for $20-35. (Or in the case of PC games, catch them when they're on sale.) I'd be more inclined to buy games as they come out if they were only $40.

Or, more realistically, it wouldn't hurt if the games were priced based on their content/replayability. I paid $50 for Kirby's Epic Yarn when it first came out, and beat the game in less than a week's time. Took it right back to the store and traded it in full-price for in-store credit on a pre-order. KEY should've only been $30-35 new, IMO. A $50 pricetag is better reserved for games that are designed to take you a long time to beat, like the ones in the Legend of Zelda series.

bahumat42:
Compared to other mediums our price point is fine.
films cost what 15 dollars
thats mayber 2.5 hours
a game costs what 60 dollars
so your willing to pay 4 times it for 4 times the length. 10 hours is a short game in my books. (yes im including multiplayer.

Its an expensive hobby. but not more than people can afford.

Depends if you're finishing the game in one sitting and never playing it again, I'd say. Since your price to see a movie is a one-shot thing, not a repeatable experience. It now occurs to me you might mean $15 purchase for the DVD, which makes me sad...

Tom Goldman:

"I can't think of anything more exploitative than gating all of your content behind having to pay someone $60," Cousins said. "That's a really harsh business model if you think about it objectively."

I hate to bring this up yet again, but I'm failing to resist the urge. What's more exploitative than a $60 game? How about a $120 game? $140? Then again, I'm really not debating who's got the more exploitative market here. Just letting out a little rant-vent on said topic.

When I can, I pay $60 with a smile. Of course I'd rather pay less, but the $60 price seems fine to me for a full-length game. Dropping the price down if the game's not bulky would be fair, but $60 is reasonable in my eyes.

Shoggoth is right: adjusting for inflation, full priced retail games are much cheaper now than they were 15-20 years ago. A shame, though, that increasing scale hasn't brought new box releases down to a different model, say, $19.95. I guess it's that no one wants to be the first company to release, say, MW3 at that level and risk taking an absolute bath on profit.

Steam's pricing experiments will ultimately lead the way IMO: Gabe Newell has talked about Valve providing pricing as a service to other companies. Free isn't going to be the answer, but neither is $60.

Cheers

Colin

Raiyan 1.0:

Shoggoth2588:
Didn't N64 games used to cost $80 new? I also remember seeing an old Nintendo Power advertising NES games (it was an old issue) for around $75 a pop. I could be wrong though, my memory is garbage.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't N64 games run on cartridges? Cartridges were much more expensive than CDs or DVDs...

I realize the format was different but that does kind of cement the point that games are less expensive now than they were back in the before-time before disc-based gaming was as common as it is now.

Keith K:
Consumers are capable of deciding what's worth their money and what they find exploitive. Releasing a compelling product and decide what you think it's worth. Consumers can figure out for themselves whether or not to agree with you. But until you release that product, just shut up.

I think it's more that there are multiple inflection points on the graph of units sold vs price per unit, ie different ways to make the same profit out of a game. And jumping between those points is seen as very risky by publishers. Consumers tend to behave in unpredictable/irrational ways re pricing: Gabe Newell has talked a lot about this.

Cheers

Colin

I just finished Dragon Age Origins, it took me over 60 hours to complete. At $60, a game that gives me 60 of playtime is a good value. $1 for 1 hour on entertainment. Sign me up. I pay $5 an hour to go see a movie (sometimes more if it's a short movie). Going out and drinking is even more expensive.

The moral of the story is that, for the most part, games are an inexpensive entertainment medium for what you're getting.

Also, my estimate was conservative. I've put in more hours then that and this is the ultimate edition so I still have the expansion pack and DLC. So all in all, $60 is nothing for what I'm getting out of it.

Shoggoth2588:

Raiyan 1.0:

Shoggoth2588:
Didn't N64 games used to cost $80 new? I also remember seeing an old Nintendo Power advertising NES games (it was an old issue) for around $75 a pop. I could be wrong though, my memory is garbage.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't N64 games run on cartridges? Cartridges were much more expensive than CDs or DVDs...

I realize the format was different but that does kind of cement the point that games are less expensive now than they were back in the before-time before disc-based gaming was as common as it is now.

Let's not forget the fact that even though digital distribution removes all the physical aspects including shipping and packaging, titles from there are priced the same as retail stores...

Eh.

Depends on the game.

I am perfectly willing to shell out full price for a good game. I only get pissed when they slap the full price label on the latest piece-of-shit-in-a-box.

Anton P. Nym:
Statements like Cousin's drive me up the wall.

Here we have a crowd of gamers demanding 60fps hi-def graphics, with high-poly models and high-res skins, with professional voice-acting and sophisticated audio mixing, for over 20 hours of single-player gameplay... but don't charge the little dears more than you would for a browser game; oh, no, that would be exploitative.

I'm normally pretty careful with my language here, but the only response that even remotely approaches my sentiment about people demanding this is, "Fuck 'em." They don't want to pay what it costs to make the game? Fine; they can not buy the game, and keep on being ignored by studios they way car companies ignore crazies on the street demanding $100 cars that run on water.

-- Steve

Would gladly pay the $60 for a 20hr single player experience of that quality. Last time I checked most of the time you pay $60 for a 7-8hr single player experience that sometimes approach that quality.

I do buy games release day new if I think the game is worth it or trust the developer. Been dissapointed a lot recently because of that.

I'm buying new games less and less. I either rent new games for console or get them on steam. Also buying more XBLA type games on just due to price. Only games I tend to buy close to date are those that are 20+ hours or have some seriously good multiplayer as it wouldn't make sense to rent those for longs periods of time. Even something like Black Ops I would rather rent (although I ended up getting it cheap second hand from a friend) so I can have a quick blast threw single player, try the mulitplayer/zombies for abit, then return.

Raiyan 1.0:

Shoggoth2588:

Raiyan 1.0:

Let's not forget the fact that even though digital distribution removes all the physical aspects including shipping and packaging, titles from there are priced the same as retail stores...

...which seems ass backwards. One would assume the removal of packaging, manuals, discs and, advertisement inserts would shave off a few dollars. Then again, that sounds like something everyone is guilty of and not just EA. I guess they can charge the same as the retail version and call the added expense a sort of, 'convenience fee'.

Someone above pointed out the irony of EA talking about how charging $60 for a new release is exploitative when compared to free-to-play games when that same company is also implementing $10 subscription fees to play their games online.

Kaytastrophe:
So the company that charges people 10 dollars who buy a used copy of a game that costs less than 60 bucks thinks paying 60 bucks is a crazy? Hmmm... somehow I feel not everyone is communicating with each other at EA.

That's the quote. Talk about the left hand not knowing what the right is doing!

Therumancer:

What's more those $60 games *ARE* using a microtransaction system, you shell that out, and then there is "DLC", every thing a game company can cut away from a game and sell seperatly they do.

What's more the $60 price point is exploitive, but since people pay it, junkie lke, there is no real reason to lower the price. Heck I'd argue a lot of games cost as much as $100 or more for the full experience when you consider the DLC angle.

I'd like to see the industry change, but in the end all ranting about it doesn't matter since they won't change UNLESS people stop buying the products at the current prices.

My thoughts exactly. Gamers are far too willing to pay $60 for crap mostly (seriously, how many games have you played in the past year that were really worth $60) that I don't see this trend reversing at any time soon. If anything it's just going to get worse and they may not even wait until next gen.
MS already upped the price of xbl gold just because they knew enough gamers would pay it. Same thing with the absurdly priced dlc out there. Activision charges $15 for map packs because they know there are more than enough suckers out there willing to pay it.

On top of that we've been getting far less content in our games this gen. It's like the airline industry, we're paying more for less.
I mentioned this on another thread but if Capcom actually gets the character roster for MvC3 to the same amount as MvC2 by charging $5 for each character, the game will cost $160 by the time it's done.

I'll certainly say my buying habits of games over the past years since the current gen came out has greatly changed. Mostly because of the $60 price tag I've stopped buying all but the biggest games from retail stores.(AC series, Fable, Oblivion) Since I can't really afford to buy games left and right at the $60 price my tastes have shifted more towards the indie market. The prices for the games are generally low thanks to many being purchasable through Steam or from the dev's website itself. Overall I find it to be the lowest risk avenue for investment in my entertainment. At most I lose the price of a night at the movies if a games is bad and I've been lucky that I've enjoyed most if not all of the games I've purchased through Steam.

I suppose the summary of this is that as normal game prices have gone up I've shifted to the indie market and found myself extremely pleased, if not more so, in the quality of the experience I've paid for.

bahumat42:
Compared to other mediums our price point is fine.
films cost what 15 dollars
thats mayber 2.5 hours
a game costs what 60 dollars
so your willing to pay 4 times it for 4 times the length. 10 hours is a short game in my books. (yes im including multiplayer.

Its an expensive hobby. but not more than people can afford.

Your average film cost five times what it costs to make your average video game. Your comparing the wrong things.

Movies make tremendous amounts of money when they do well, they sale not only discs, but they have a theatrical release as well. Overall they are different experiences and comparing money used to make, vs average sales, sales, vs average profit, is the only real way to compare them. Length of the content has little to do with the pricing.

$60 may not be to much for you, but sales figures show it is for the majority of people. They are becoming more and more selective in what they buy. The titles that make a profit do extremely well, while the majority of titles only break even at best. To many cheaper alternatives to the AAA pricing are out there. More and more people are buying XBLA and PSN games, renting more, and being far more frugal with those titles they do buy.

Even with money to burn I have been disappointed to many times with games over the last few years to justify buying on release anymore. I don't mind waiting, and letting only the games that really prove themselves get my money. I have purchased more games for my phone over the last year then for all the consoles put together.

Missing SHODAN:

bahumat42:
Compared to other mediums our price point is fine.
films cost what 15 dollars
thats mayber 2.5 hours
a game costs what 60 dollars
so your willing to pay 4 times it for 4 times the length. 10 hours is a short game in my books. (yes im including multiplayer.

Its an expensive hobby. but not more than people can afford.

But this argument is largely about risk and investment.

If I go to see Drive Angry (haven't seen, just picking a film that I'd deemed 'risky' in my head when I saw the trailer) in the theater and it's awful and I leave early, I'm out $15.

When I bought FFXIII for $60, and decided it was awful, I was out $60. The fact that the game features 40 hours of gameplay or whatever wasn't any comfort when about 15-20 hours in I'd decided my nostalgia for Final Fantasy wasn't enough to overcome the fact that I did not enjoy the game and hadn't enjoy the last 15-20 hours of waiting for the game to magically turn back into FFVI.

The fact that I could have, say, 10-40 hours of awful experience versus 1.5-2.5 hours of awful experience isn't really a comfort at that point.

When games are good, yeah, they're great values for the money. You'll get no argument from me there. However, when they're crap, they're expensive crap. What is being argued here is that people would be willing to try more games if there wasn't the risk that they'd spend a fairly sizable chunk of cash on something which turned out to be completely not their thing.

This would also be less of a problem if you could return video games to the store on account of "it was crap," but the industry has ensured that's not an option.

EDIT - also, it's hilarious for "nickle and dime you" EA having someone talk about how one could price things better. I wouldn't mind being nickled and dimed for, say, a $15 game, but when it's $60 + First Day DLC, that really does feel exploitative.

thats what reviews are (or should be for) waiting a week to find out someone you trusts opinion is going to save you the money you would have wasted. Hell i wait like 6 months and get it on steam, by then i know if their going to be good or not.

Shoggoth2588:

Raiyan 1.0:
Let's not forget the fact that even though digital distribution removes all the physical aspects including shipping and packaging, titles from there are priced the same as retail stores...

...which seems ass backwards. One would assume the removal of packaging, manuals, discs and, advertisement inserts would shave off a few dollars. Then again, that sounds like something everyone is guilty of and not just EA. I guess they can charge the same as the retail version and call the added expense a sort of, 'convenience fee'.

Err, actually that was my point. I wasn't agreeing with you, I was trying to counter your argument about games being cheaper now than it was before. Maybe I didn't word it properly, but what I was trying to convey was that games are not as cheap as they could be...

manaman:

bahumat42:
Compared to other mediums our price point is fine.
films cost what 15 dollars
thats mayber 2.5 hours
a game costs what 60 dollars
so your willing to pay 4 times it for 4 times the length. 10 hours is a short game in my books. (yes im including multiplayer.

Its an expensive hobby. but not more than people can afford.

Your average film cost five times what it costs to make your average video game. Your comparing the wrong things.

Movies make tremendous amounts of money when they do well, they sale not only discs, but they have a theatrical release as well. Overall they are different experiences and comparing money used to make, vs average sales, sales, vs average profit, is the only real way to compare them. Length of the content has little to do with the pricing.

$60 may not be to much for you, but sales figures show it is for the majority of people. They are becoming more and more selective in what they buy. The titles that make a profit do extremely well, while the majority of titles only break even at best. To many cheaper alternatives to the AAA pricing are out there. More and more people are buying XBLA and PSN games, renting more, and being far more frugal with those titles they do buy.

Even with money to burn I have been disappointed to many times with games over the last few years to justify buying on release anymore. I don't mind waiting, and letting only the games that really prove themselves get my money. I have purchased more games for my phone over the last year then for all the consoles put together.

i dont have money to burn. I buy games I KNOW i will like, anything else i wait for the price to drop significantly (ok to £30 from £40 but still). And i was comparing value for entertainment not profit for the companies. Value for entertainment even on 60 dollar games comes out much higher than other mediums (except maybe books).

And id argue people are buying indie and downloadable games because they are really high quality gameplay (something a lot of full priced releases are missing)

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