Epic: DLC Needed to Fight "Used Game Culture"

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Epic: DLC Needed to Fight "Used Game Culture"

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Epic's Rod Fergusson defends pre-launch DLC development and argues it's a more pleasant alternative to Online Pass systems when it comes to "fighting" used games sales.

Day-one and on-disk DLC is an oft debated topic here in Internetland, with many gamers assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that content is being cut out of a game's final release so it can be shilled separately. That's now how it works, apparently, at least not according to Rod Fergusson, Director of Production at Epic games.

"What people need to understand is that extra content is something that you have to plan," said Fergusson, talking to Game Informer Magazine. "You don't just lift up a rock and say, 'oh shit, there's new levels!'," added Gears of War lead designer Cliff Bleszinski.

Day-one DLC is often developed in tandem with the base game, but is usually budgeted separately. "There are people who think that the first day of DLC development is the day after you launched," said Fergusson. "That's not the way it works. A lot of it is that you have to prepare and plan and manage your resources and your people and everything to allow for that."

Fergusson went on to argue that DLC, and presumably he means good DLC rather than the largely inconsequential stuff we've seen so far, is a preferable alternative to gated multiplayer systems, like EA's controversial Online Pass program. A carrot rather than a stick, if you will. "It's less about shipping what's left over. It's not about, 'Oh, we had this map left over'... it's keeping the disc in the tray," he said. "In a used game culture that you have to actively fight against, I think DLC is one of the ways that you do that."

Used game sales, a long standing part of the industry, seems to have replaced piracy as the industry boogeyman of choice, with numerous developers blaming them for poor, or lower than expected, game sales in recent years.

There is rather a lot of DLC planned for Gears of War 3.

Source: CVG

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You mean the culture of making games available to people who otherwise would never have bought them and thus has no effect on your bottom line whatsoever? THAT culture?

Or...you make a game that people wouldn't want to trade in.

More critics wading in on used games; haters gonna hate.

Fingers crossed that the book industry never figures out a way to do this.

When all is said and done i would rather have day one DLC than online passes.

And im someone who buys all his games all new and shiny, with cling film on them.

How about we just start making games that are worth picking up day one instead of 6-12 months later?

"used game culture", you mean the games market and how it has worked since creation. Just making sure we understand each other. Let be honest about who is trying the change the rules of engagement in the games market, cause it ain't the consumer.

If games require a one time registration and activation (like all Steam games), you can't sell the game at all. That's more certainty than with day one DLC's... At least for the PC. However nowadays all game developers are focusing on console games. But thats a different topic.

I still disapprove of day one DLC's. Especially those that are released locally & exclusively. Store X has an exclusive for DLC X and store Y has an exclusive for DLC Y. Screw them, I want all the content.

Grey Carter:

Used game sales, a long standing part of the industry, seems to have replaced piracy as the industry boogeyman of choice, with numerous developers blaming them for poor, or lower than expected, game sales in recent years.

Here's a simpler solution to your woes, developers.

Make. Better. Games.

Also, isn't it just a little likely that people are less willing to buy games new since they know half the bloody content will be coming out as DLC over the ensuing 12 months and they'll have to pay for that on top of the new release price?

Yes, yes it is.

DVS BSTrD:
You mean the culture of making games available to people who otherwise would never have bought them an thus has no effect on your bottom line whatsoever? THAT culture?

Do you honestly believe that the average consumer who would buy a game new, who comes into a store and sees that he can buy the exact same game for 10 bucks cheaper, would choose to pay 10 dollars more without any incentive whatsoever? If you do, I have a bridge to sell you.

El Luck:
Or...you make a game that people wouldn't want to trade in.

This... or lower prices for games.

Grey Carter:
snip

Surely we can understand why they would want to compete with used sales, right?

They're not calling it evil, they're just saying it's a factor in their business. These people are being forced to compete against an exact copy of their own product, and at prices lower than they could ever match -- if new games were $1, used games would be $.50.

I don't see them trying to make it illegal, but can't we at least recognize they have a valid reason for wanting to compete with the used market? Every other product tries to.

The common argument is they should, "Make games you don't want to trade in." This is just so crammed with (wrong) assumptions that it's ridiculous. I trade in games that I've loved, but really won't play through again because I've taken them as far as I care to. I loved Mass Effect 2, but I traded it in to help buy Skyrim. It's not a statement on the quality of Mass Effect 2, it was just time to move on. Additionally, anything they do to make the new game better will also just improve the used game... so they're still competing with the same product.

Try to see it from the other side. If it were cars, the "new car" guy could say, "Yeah, they're cheaper, but ours are NEWER, so they have more miles left in them." But what if that wasn't true. What if another company could buy back used cars and magically "rewind" them to 0.0 miles and offer them at half price? Now "new car guy" is forced to compete unfairly against his own product.

Yes, every used copy sold means a new one had to be sold in the first place. It's not a 1:1 problem. But is it wrong for developers and publishers to try to ensure that a new game has more value than a used one?

Arkham City did this with Catwoman, and I think it's brilliant. I bought it new, got to play that part of the game, just like if I buy a new car, I get to use those first few thousand "brand new" miles. If I trade it in, and someone else buys that used copy, they're not paying full price... and they're also not getting those "new miles," because they've already been -- that's right -- used.

Instead of reallocating your team to work on day one DLC, make a good game and people will flock to it. Make it so good that people want to replay it and you won't see trade-ins instead of making half-assed campaigns only to feebly attempt to justify charging $60 for a game with single and multiplayer, the latter of which is abandoned when the next iteration comes out. Or you could lower the prices, but there is no reason to fight against the used game market. A market that has helped many a series become popular or has attracted followers for companies. A system that is born out of necessity because us poor people can't afford to buy every game brand new. Save the DLC for later on. Yes, it is better than online passes, but both are just taking away from what could be effort put toward making a great game.

DLC is just an insidious way to extract more money out of your already paying customers...

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If you want to "fight" against "used games" (I hate it how that word keeps being misused, they're not really fighting against "used games" but against Retail giants like GameStop, BestBuy, Amazon etc. abusing the system and enough people stupid enough to fall for it) just put a CD-Key into every game box you have to register before being able to play the game and be done with it...

While DLC and "day one DLC" can combat the "used game culture", they can also hurt sales in general due to upsetting their customers. The best way to take care of both issues is to simply make better games.

But that would take effort.

Why is it so nessercary to 'combat' used games exactly?

Yes, it could be argued that it detracts from sales but seeing as this is coming from the developer who complained and got upset about their game recieving an 8/10 review I'm not very sympathetic.

I'm not sympathetic to this complaint about 'used games taking away sales' when there seems to be a severe lack of respect and trust in consumers from publishers and developers and it's not very hard to look at a lot of these anti-second hand measures as somewhat exploitative.

To me, all this stuff about the evils of second hand sales seem to be like childish whining and petty tanrtrum throwing.

Xanadu84:

DVS BSTrD:
You mean the culture of making games available to people who otherwise would never have bought them an thus has no effect on your bottom line whatsoever? THAT culture?

Do you honestly believe that the average consumer who would buy a game new, who comes into a store and sees that he can buy the exact same game for 10 bucks cheaper, would choose to pay 10 dollars more without any incentive whatsoever? If you do, I have a bridge to sell you.

Or they could, ya know, just make the game WORTH the extra ten bucks to begin with.

Xanadu84:

DVS BSTrD:
You mean the culture of making games available to people who otherwise would never have bought them an thus has no effect on your bottom line whatsoever? THAT culture?

Do you honestly believe that the average consumer who would buy a game new, who comes into a store and sees that he can buy the exact same game for 10 bucks cheaper, would choose to pay 10 dollars more without any incentive whatsoever? If you do, I have a bridge to sell you.

If it is a game that I KNOW I want, I'll get it new so that I make sure the game is intact, manual is intact, and for that intoxicating new game smell.

If it is a game I THINK I might want, I'll get it used so if I don't like it, I'm not out $60. Return it, maybe throw it towards that new game coming out next month.

El Luck:
Or...you make a game that people wouldn't want to trade in.

More or less impossible. People will trade in whatever game. I've seen this statement so many times, and it still makes not a lick of sense.

NameIsRobertPaulson:

Xanadu84:

DVS BSTrD:
You mean the culture of making games available to people who otherwise would never have bought them an thus has no effect on your bottom line whatsoever? THAT culture?

Do you honestly believe that the average consumer who would buy a game new, who comes into a store and sees that he can buy the exact same game for 10 bucks cheaper, would choose to pay 10 dollars more without any incentive whatsoever? If you do, I have a bridge to sell you.

If it is a game that I KNOW I want, I'll get it new so that I make sure the game is intact, manual is intact, and for that intoxicating new game smell.

If it is a game I THINK I might want, I'll get it used so if I don't like it, I'm not out $60. Return it, maybe throw it towards that new game coming out next month.

Or learn to look for sales. Retailers like Target and Walmart and Best Buy have sales every single week and put out a print ad and put it online. And with every week, there is a selection of games on sale.

Not to mention Steam.

I am waiting for them to figure out that used game sales are not something meant to be fought, as they are something that should be worked with.

Let me put it this way:

-Resale increases the value for the dollar of buying new titles.
-Renting helps convince me to buy a new title. Since a lot of games today don't have good demos. Or don't even have demos at all.
-Selling games back helps me afford new games.

Short sighted CEOs need to chill the **** out.

Speaking as me only, if you kill used game sales then I quit console gaming.

I really hate these DLC sometimes... sure some of them add a lot for a great price but mostly it's "get this and get this super cool x & Y only $$$"...
And what used to be "here's some more to the game" is now "yea you bought the game but $60 isn't enough for it so to actually get the game buy this and this DLC..." I.e rob your customers...

But the worst DLC is the store specific

Dexter111:

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Sums my feelings up pretty good..

And the "used sale is a lost sale"..
Well ever thought that lower prices might make it possible for those that buy used to afford brand new?....

Frostbite3789:

NameIsRobertPaulson:

Xanadu84:

Do you honestly believe that the average consumer who would buy a game new, who comes into a store and sees that he can buy the exact same game for 10 bucks cheaper, would choose to pay 10 dollars more without any incentive whatsoever? If you do, I have a bridge to sell you.

If it is a game that I KNOW I want, I'll get it new so that I make sure the game is intact, manual is intact, and for that intoxicating new game smell.

If it is a game I THINK I might want, I'll get it used so if I don't like it, I'm not out $60. Return it, maybe throw it towards that new game coming out next month.

Or learn to look for sales. Retailers like Target and Walmart and Best Buy have sales every single week and put out a print ad and put it online. And with every week, there is a selection of games on sale.

Not to mention Steam.

Except buying a game that I end up not liking screws me over. The GameStop method helps everyone in the buying process.

And I don't buy from Steam. Nothing against them, but I game exclusively on my PS3. If I had a computer that could play recent PC games without dying of exhaustion, I would. Hell, that's why I don't own Skyrim right now.

I don't understand this mentality. Why must the Games industry 'fight against' the used game culture? Why is the human instinct to share with friends constantly under attack from these companies?

I remember this same problem with World at War. You were unable to play that game online if you had a friend over. 1 online player required 1 game disc. I can't help but contrast this with Halo which has always allowed you to play online with friends off 1 disc.

They aren't talking about people buying a 2 year old game used, or trying out something different.

They are talking about going in and buying Skyrim (a week from launch) used for $55 or $50. That is directly competing with their product, and is taking sales.

El Luck:
Or...you make a game that people wouldn't want to trade in.

I've played Mass Effect 2 completely through 8-9 times, maybe even more. I wouldn't really hesitate before trading it in. My WoW main character has over 200 days played. I strongly doubt I will play WoW again.

Making a game good enough that people won't trade in is basically saying make an all-time top 5 or maybe top 10 game.

Of course it would be wonderful if that happened, but that isn't a very good standard.

My comment would be to get rid of the Day-One and On-Disc DLC; that just pisses people off and makes them feel like they are being cheated. Don't play all your cards at once. Hold back a little and give gamers a chance to build a craving for more, then you hit them with the DLC card when the hunger peaks. You can have the DLC ready to go at the flip of a switch, just don't let everyone know, immediately, that is the case.

Also, if you use the DLC as your true revenue source, then you may as well reduce the initial price of the base game such to garner a larger install base. The basic idea here is to change the cost structure of the entire game(base + DLC addons/expansions) such that gamers are actually able to manage the cost of purchase without feeling like they are taking out a mortgage every time a new game is released. Instead of feeling they have to pay $100+ up front to get the full game, they can pay over time and build up the game into something for which they have a better appreciation. While the same amount of money can be transacted in total, the difference is the rate; the gamer has time to recover from the purchase before being asked to make further purchases. Also, this translates into potentially more sales of the DLC, itself, which means more revenue.

Day-One and On-Disc DLC makes the gamer feel like they are only getting a partial game for the money they are paying, i.e. they are getting progressively less value for the same money paid, and are being swindled into paying more for the rest. The gamer just feels like he's getting conned. By not revealing the DLC till later, gamers feel less like they have a partial game at time of initial purchase(even if they know, intellectually, the case is otherwise) and, so, are more willing to make the initial investment.

Finally, don't make the DLC store dependent, unless you are going to sell the game only through that particular set of stores. If the point is to make your revenue calculations independent of the used game market, then you have to make your revenue independent of store fronts entirely, since it's the stores that are the ones perpetuating the used game market. Fragmenting your customer base is usually just asking for headaches, both in terms of PR and asset management.

Dastardly:

Grey Carter:
snip

Surely we can understand why they would want to compete with used sales, right?

They're not calling it evil, they're just saying it's a factor in their business. These people are being forced to compete against an exact copy of their own product, and at prices lower than they could ever match -- if new games were $1, used games would be $.50.

I don't see them trying to make it illegal, but can't we at least recognize they have a valid reason for wanting to compete with the used market? Every other product tries to.

The common argument is they should, "Make games you don't want to trade in." This is just so crammed with (wrong) assumptions that it's ridiculous. I trade in games that I've loved, but really won't play through again because I've taken them as far as I care to. I loved Mass Effect 2, but I traded it in to help buy Skyrim. It's not a statement on the quality of Mass Effect 2, it was just time to move on. Additionally, anything they do to make the new game better will also just improve the used game... so they're still competing with the same product.

Try to see it from the other side. If it were cars, the "new car" guy could say, "Yeah, they're cheaper, but ours are NEWER, so they have more miles left in them." But what if that wasn't true. What if another company could buy back used cars and magically "rewind" them to 0.0 miles and offer them at half price? Now "new car guy" is forced to compete unfairly against his own product.

Yes, every used copy sold means a new one had to be sold in the first place. It's not a 1:1 problem. But is it wrong for developers and publishers to try to ensure that a new game has more value than a used one?

Arkham City did this with Catwoman, and I think it's brilliant. I bought it new, got to play that part of the game, just like if I buy a new car, I get to use those first few thousand "brand new" miles. If I trade it in, and someone else buys that used copy, they're not paying full price... and they're also not getting those "new miles," because they've already been -- that's right -- used.

^^^ Not much to add here as this post pretty much nails it squarely on the head. ^^^

No one is saying used games are evil, and no one is saying that someone who buys a used game is evil.

If you actually think about it for a second, and do so from a non self entitled viewpoint, it's easy to see why developers do have issues with the used game market and are trying to think of ways to work around it. Right now we've got development budgets for pretty much every single game, not just the AAA blockbusters, constantly rising. We've got game prices pretty near where they have been for decades. We've got a situation where most games that are released end up being break even outcomes if not money losers, especially if it's a new IP. It's not exactly a winning proposition and something has to give, particularly when GameStoreX is turning around and selling the exact same item you are for $5-$10 less than you are, and so many people are (certainly logically) choosing to pay the lower price.

I believe used sales of a lawful product are a right under the first sale doctrine.

Sorry Mr. Fergusson and every other money grubbing developer against used sales but your eventually going to have to come down off your cross, use the wood to build a bridge and get the fuck over it.

From now on whenever I want an Epic game and I won't be penalized for it i'll pick it up used. Your new titles can rot for all I care. If your engine wasn't smeared everywhere I'd stop using any games that supported it as well, but that is practically unavoidable.

As with all contentious issues, there are no easy answers.

On one hand, developers are already riding the profit line. One bad release can kill a studio, so any and all additional revenue sources must be made use of.

On the other hand, games are and remain a very expensive commodity. Especially for singleplayer gamers. The chance of a new game containing as much content for a singleplayer gamer as for a multiplayer gamer is approximately (# of Bethesda games + # of rockstar games)/(# of games). Yet that six-hour campaign still costs $60.

The real solution, I think, may come down to two options: lower prices to where the "used bonus" is irrelevant (as with DVDs etc.), then add online passes as a separate product (singleplayer gamer pays $20; multiplayer gamer pays $40; both are happy, and the potential audience is increased)
Alternately, embrace digital distribution - which will probably be the wave of the future anyway - and LOWER PRICES!

Uh, huh...

Well, if you're fighting the "used game culture" then you're fighting me and my rights as a consumer. It's a good thing I don't like any of your games anyway, because this kind of crap would have really put me off giving you any money whatsoever.

Grey Carter:
Day-one DLC is often developed in tandem with the base game, but is usually budgeted separately. "There are people who think that the first day of DLC development is the day after you launched," said Fergusson. "That's not the way it works. A lot of it is that you have to prepare and plan and manage your resources and your people and everything to allow for that."

...

No-one disputes this, it's just that when the price of games is so high (and it is high) your consumers need to be assured that they are getting value for money. The game therefore needs to be the best it can be at launch, and that's what the effort should go into.

If content intended for DLC is ready before the game is shipped IT SHOULD BE INCLUDED WITH THE GAME.

Regardless of where the budget came from, or what team worked on it, on-disc DLC is content that could have been included in the main game, but you have decided to release it separately. It is therefore cut content. It's still a stick rather than a carrot because it's the consumer who is losing out.

On-disc DLC... makes a mockery of the term 'DLC' doesn't it, really.

El Luck:
Or...you make a game that people wouldn't want to trade in.

But this doesn't work. People have different tastes, they can't make a game that will be universally great for everybody.

El Luck:
Or...you make a game that people wouldn't want to trade in.

El Luck:
Or...you make a game that people wouldn't want to trade in.

Yay more forced in multiplayers woot woot :D I know Jim had that big video about how people replay games, but I am sure there are more people that don't, which he failed to consider.
I don't tend to replay many games at all, excluding some with moral choice.
I would rather have this day one DLC (as long as it doesn't cost money when I buy the game, and also doesn't prove to be a crucial part of the game) then start forcing game styles on developers.

DVS BSTrD:

Xanadu84:

DVS BSTrD:
You mean the culture of making games available to people who otherwise would never have bought them an thus has no effect on your bottom line whatsoever? THAT culture?

Do you honestly believe that the average consumer who would buy a game new, who comes into a store and sees that he can buy the exact same game for 10 bucks cheaper, would choose to pay 10 dollars more without any incentive whatsoever? If you do, I have a bridge to sell you.

Or they could, ya know, just make the game WORTH the extra ten bucks to begin with.

And yet, people still buy those video games. Either gamers are all stupid, or it is worth those extra 10 bucks.

Besides, if you want a company to lower prices, it has to appear profitable to do so. The only way to do that is to make each copy sold be more profitable. Used games do the opposite. If you want cheaper games, you cut publishes and developers in on the profits on all units sold. You want better games, you increase the revenue they have to invest in games, or you nurture an enviornment where risky, innovative games are still likely to be profitable. Used game sales cutting out developers and publishers works against that.

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