BioWare Defends DLC Business Strategy

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BioWare Defends DLC Business Strategy

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Gamers are happy to pay for DLC, online passes, and microtransactions, says BioWare.

If you played Mass Effect 3, you've probably noticed that the game has more DLC than you can shake an Omni-Tool at. Between multiplayer expansions, ending patches, online passes, and item packs, you could end up spending a lot of money on top of the initial $60 investment to see the end of modern gaming's most celebrated sci-fi trilogy. While some of the DLC is free, and the rest maxes out at about $10 a pop, BioWare has been raking in money hand-over-three-fingered-fist with these downloadable extras.

While giving a presentation at GDC Europe, Fernando Melo, director of BioWare's online development, laid out the company's business plan. "Fans do want more content," said Melo. "From the moment the game launches ... So it needs to be there when it's ready." Mass Effect 3 fans will remember From Ashes, the day one DLC pack that added an extra squadmate who could add quite a lot of backstory and combat advantages from a relatively early point in the plot. Even if fans do not want to dish out an additional 1/6 of the game's cost as soon as they get home from the store, Melo argued that there's no rush. "They choose when to pick it up, day one or later."

In addition to touting the virtues of an Online Pass - a one-time content access code that made up 11% of Mass Effect 2's DLC revenue - Melo believed that microtransactions are the best way to ensure a constant revenue stream from a game that has already been released. "If you have five DLC packs at $10 each, you can only ever earn a total of $50," Melo explained. Mass Effect 3, however, offers cheap, randomized multiplayer item packs, which are also purchasable with in-game funds. Offering real-money transactions for convenience or in-game money for time and patience offers the best of both worlds, according to Melo. "Gamers are actually happier, as they are able to spend money when they want."

For those who might scoff at Mass Effect 3's DLC and microtransactions, Melo did offer one interesting point: These sales subsidized the game's plentiful free multiplayer DLC, ensuring that players get a steady stream of varied content, and that developers get to stay on the Mass Effect 3 team. Whether or not gamers are really "happier" with this business strategy is hard to say, but at the very least, they're not too upset to open their wallets for it.

Source: Eurogamer

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Let the vitriol spew in 3...2...1...

Not that big of a deal. I figured the lottery multiplayer paid for the free packs, and quite frankly, if people are willing to pay for it, it's their business.

As for their singleplayer DLC, let's see if Leviathan is worth the $10.

Oh yes Mr. Melo I love nothing more then that feeling like I was just shook down for more money. Everyone takes joy in knowing that the first 60 dollars they put down was only the entry fee! Give us more please.

This is why I am seriously happy that I deleted my Origin account, and uninstalled every thing Bioware from my computer.

They just are running around ripping people off, and trying to do the least amount of work.
Those MP packs? They were just some new maps and characters nothing interesting.

Bioware is simply dead to me.

I actual enjoy the micro transitions because they keep the dlc free, the operations worth Bioware's time, and it still isn't pay to win.

Marshall Honorof:
For those who might scoff at Mass Effect 3's DLC and microtransactions, Melo did offer one interesting point: These sales subsidized the game's plentiful free multiplayer DLC, ensuring that players get a steady stream of varied content, and that developers get to stay on the Mass Effect 3 team.

Because that's all that really matters in this day and age isn't it? The Multiplayer. You'd think all that money would at least earn us another gameplay mode.

As obnoxious as I find the gambling to be, it's still not as spammy or obnoxious as say Saints Row 3 or Dungeon Defenders.

Let the DLC flow. That means more content for when they release the actual version of their games.

I'm still waiting for a Mass Effect 3 Complete Edition to come out for a normal price (<$50). I'll be patient even if it takes another year and another EA stock dip.

DVS BSTrD:

Marshall Honorof:
For those who might scoff at Mass Effect 3's DLC and microtransactions, Melo did offer one interesting point: These sales subsidized the game's plentiful free multiplayer DLC, ensuring that players get a steady stream of varied content, and that developers get to stay on the Mass Effect 3 team.

Because that's all that really matters in this day and age isn't it? The Multiplayer.

Yeah, it's not like they're also working on single player DLC that'll be released this summer.

Oh wait.

I'll just Copy/Paste this rant here, since it seems to fit perfectly:

No, just no, this practice is getting increasingly ridiculous and needs to die.

Developers start either releasing games before they are ready or cutting out entire chapters from their game like in "Assassin's Creed 2″ with Battle of Forli/Bonfire of Vanities.

They start adding features to the game that should have been there all along and had been shown off during development like "free roam" and mini missions in MAFIA II.

They start clearly cutting out entire parts of the story of a game to offer them as "Exclusive Content" to retailers or making you pay for it afterwards like in "L.A. Noire" (5 Missions/Cases were behind a Pay-Wall).

They outright lock out content already complete from the disk to make you pay for "unlocking" it like in Street Fighter IV, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Street Fighter X Tekken or even more recently Risen 2.

Some publishers like Capcom are even actually selling you an ending to your game like in "Asura's Wrath".

It's getting so bad, that they were all announcing "DLC" and "Exclusive DLC" at the E3 this year with games THAT WERE SET TO COME OUT IN MONTHS.
Microsoft managed to "secure Exclusive DLC" with the South Park RPG, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil 6 and Black Ops 2: http://www.cinemablend.com/games/Xbox-360-Getting-Exclusive-Early-DLC-Resident-Evil-6-Tomb-Raider-Black-Ops-2-South-Park-RPG-43197.html
While SONY "secured" itself Exclusive Assassin's Creed 3 and Far Cry 3 DLC: http://playstationlifestyle.net/2012/06/04/ps3-exclusive-assassins-creed-3-dlc-announced/

All this "budget" and "certification" bullshit is just that, an excuse for fleecing their customers, especially when said DLC then even ends up on the finished Retail disc with CD Keys to unlock but only in "certain versions".
CDProjekt, Valve and a few other similar developers still show today how it should be, you offer additional content over time and more people buy your game and like you in return (it also stays longer in the Press).

Games in general have varying degrees of development times, team sizes , scopes, budgets etc. but that's *their choice*, the exact budget or team size of a game ultimately shouldn't matter to the consumer (and it didn't before they brought it up as a reason to justify DLC). For instance, it usually also doesn't matter or have any impact on the price if a game like Duke Nukem Forever is in development for 15 years, or Diablo III for 8 years, Dragon Age: Origins or Alan Wake for 5, Newest Call of Duty and Mass Effect for 2 or Dragon Age 2 for 1 year. The publisher could at any one point give any of these games either more or less time and budget depending on if they deem it right or feasible and it shouldn't translate to different terms to the consumer as that is a publishing/developer decision. If they really needed character or area X and Y in a game they could just give them another month till it is done and release it then. It wouldn't be unprecedented and the first time ever a game had a delay.

Publishers also spend a lot of money on R&D or months to years of development time on games/game ideas that won't make it in the end (sometimes tax write-offs of a game that doesn't come out are apparently a better choice than a released game that fails on the market), soon they'll come out and try to guilt trip people by saying "Look, it didn't pan out this time, but can you please pay us, so we make back our costs?" or what?

Remember when people used to say that they "hate" that the new consoles have the ability to Patch "like on the PC", because developers don't have to complete and properly test their game before they release it like for instance Nintendo and SEGA etc. did back in the day and they could release them buggy and fix them later?

Well guess what, DLC gives them the opportunity to not even FINISH the game before they release it, not only that but also the opportunity to cut it up in pieces and offer the rest at additional price.

You're not doing anyone any favors by trying to justify and rationalize their ability to gouge people any further...

EXPANSIONS are good, DLC is definitely not so. Microsoft coined "DLC" back in 2002 with their Xbox, the first title to have it was "Mech Assault" (by Microsoft Game Studios) and they were the only ones to charge for it, everyone else was offering it for free, they then proceeded to make it a requirement to pay for it on their Xbox 360 and FORCED every developer to put a price on DLC or any additional big content Patches because they wanted to "create an environment of value" (or at least that's what they call not allowing any kind of "free" content on their platform, so they don't give people the wrong idea) and smelled lots of money:
http://www.shacknews.com/article/60365/microsoft-forces-valve-to-price
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=147804
Chief amongst some that spoke out against it were Valve (who had and still has problems doing free Updates), EPIC (who wasn't allowed to release free content as they did on PC), Team17, Bizarre Creations and more. (look into the links above)

Microsoft didn't WANT things to be free, how would the big publishers or themselves look when there's games offering free content while they charge 5-10 $/€? They are the reason why "long term support" got replaced by "BUY OUR DLC, BEST DAY ONE!" and there's no reason to support that.
On top of that it almost entirely killed actual "Expansions", which were standard practice at some point, why pay to develop a lot of good content if people buy bite-sized small "packs" for the same price or more if added up?

It's a disease initiated by Microsoft on closed-off console platforms that just swapped over to the PC in time.

So since this makes lots of money in the long run, that means they'll be able to afford to sell their games at a cheaper up-front cost, right? I mean, that's why there's a $60 price point, because they need to make back all the money they spent making it. But with these DLC's making a lot of money as well, that means we'll get cheaper games as a result of DLC helping make back the budget, right?

...

Right?

ME3 MP packs are a slippery slope. They work for me as is because its purely a co-op MP so someone who blows hundreds of dollars to max their ultra-rares benefits themselves but also benefits me as they will have some serious firepower even if they lack any real talent if they end up in a game with me. If this game had a competitive mode then I probably would never touch the thing simply because being able to buy power (guns/gear/characters in this case) would give anyone willing to drop real money on it an advantage over those who don't.

Its a system like that that scares me away from products and from what I've read the new Mech Warrior Tactics F2P game will basically do that very thing. Varying packs will contain different rarities of gear/mechs/pilots and they will all be purchasable with real world currency as well as in game currency. Just seems pointless to me to try to compete in a pvp orientated game that can offer such dramatic shortcuts and advantages to those with money to burn versus people who just play the game or buy substantially less shop items. Keep the microtransactions in those situations limited to cosmetic or even just side grades imo or at the very least offer some solid matchmaking that tries to balance opponents based on some sort of metric you've developed.

Absolutionis:

I'm still waiting for a Mass Effect 3 Complete Edition to come out for a normal price (<$50). I'll be patient even if it takes another year and another EA stock dip.

good luck with that one, they are just about as bad as activision is on pricing, EA will sell it's soul 100x over before it releases a GOTY edition, let alone one that is less then 70 bucks. (seriously, when was the last time they chopped prices on any bioware DLC? anyone? if so, i must not be paying attention at those very rare times.)

Marshall Honorof:
"If you have five DLC packs at $10 each, you can only ever earn a total of $50, and quite frankly, that's simply not enough. We want more of your money. MORE!" Melo explained.

Like... I understand that the AAA games cost so much that developers have pretty much worked themselves into a corner in terms of profit... but I really can't help but shake the feeling they are just a bunch of greedy douches...

It truly saddens me to watch the industry spiral out of control. It's nothing new, of course... but it's a terrible thing to watch none the less.

Ok, so a few things with this.

1. Most of the DLC is free (right now), and it makes the multiplayer feel fresh here and there, at no charge.

2. The item packs you can buy, hell, I dont mind, its extremely well implemented. The only time you see them is when you want to buy a pack, points or in game money. They are also available completly free with in game money, and the most expensive can be bought with just 3 successful victories. I dont mind it.

3. Day one DLC.... No. Im pretty sure most people agree. No. It should either be a pre-order bonus, or on the disc. No selling day one DLC. Leviathan? Well, I cant have judgement yet. Still have to see if its going to be worth the MS point. If its like Kasumi or Arrival, it will maybe be worth it.

Yeah. Death to pay-DLC. Life to expansion packs. Feel free to add non-intrusive micro transactions.

Irridium:
So since this makes lots of money in the long run, that means they'll be able to afford to sell their games at a cheaper up-front cost, right? I mean, that's why there's a $60 price point, because they need to make back all the money they spent making it. But with these DLC's making a lot of money as well, that means we'll get cheaper games as a result of DLC helping make back the budget, right?

...

Right?

Heh heh... look at you... so cute with your hopes and dreams...

Phlakes:

DVS BSTrD:

Marshall Honorof:
For those who might scoff at Mass Effect 3's DLC and microtransactions, Melo did offer one interesting point: These sales subsidized the game's plentiful free multiplayer DLC, ensuring that players get a steady stream of varied content, and that developers get to stay on the Mass Effect 3 team.

Because that's all that really matters in this day and age isn't it? The Multiplayer.

Yeah, it's not like they're also working on single player DLC that'll be released this summer.

Oh wait.

Well they wouldn't have had to do that if they had paid attention to the single player storyline in the first place.

I liked how ME approached it's online methods very much.

The microtransaction packs served both those wanted to fork over the money and for me it was a little thing to spend a few leftover points on when I had some on a couple occasions. Those who also want to blow their money to get some high tier stuff instantly can as well. Like they said those who do splurge for convenience pay for those who don't.

The biggest challenge of a model like that is imbalancing multiplayer which is a bigger issue in competitive rather than co-op but you still can buy good high tier packs yourself in a reasonable amount of time to not get frustrated over it.

Online passes don't seem like shady underhanded business tactics to me at all, just a fair way to chip a few bucks out of the used gaming market. Not trying to destroy it like some people fear the next console generation might try and do.

IMO a lot of the people complaining about all this optional stuff it fit right into that category of en... wait for it... titled. Cliche'd but true.

You made a mistake with the headline:

EA Defends DLC Business Strategy

There. Fixed it for you.

Yea.... I have nothing new to add. I've already stated that I am only buying the game used and never touching the DLC to any EA game.

Also, back a million years ago when Microsoft published part 1, it was 400 points for the Bring down the Sky mission that was both awesome and took 2 to 3 hours to plow through it.

And no customer has ever been happy about an online pass... ever.

I'm sorry people. I think a lot of you have legitimate points to make, but when your argument boils down to "I don't want to pay money for things," it becomes physically painful to read. Paid DLC and preorder bonuses aren't going away, for the simple reason that things cost money to make and the profit margin for video games is stretched razor thin. We might as well find a way that we'll be happy with it.

I bought every piece of DLC for every Bioware game I own. I enjoyed them, and it was worth a little money - yes, I have seriously low income, but it's what I'd pay for a lunch out at somewhere fast-food, so I'm not that bloody fussed about it - to get a little more of something I liked. I don't want my games broken and stuff taken out to be held hostage later, but I don't feel like that's happened so far. Extra outfits for my DA2 character? Sure, why the heck not? It's not like the offerings of the industry as so bountifully fabulous that I've had to pay full price for opening day titles all year - haven't had that problem for nearly half a decade now.

blalien:
I'm sorry people. I think a lot of you have legitimate points to make, but when your argument boils down to "I don't want to pay money for things," it becomes physically painful to read. Paid DLC and preorder bonuses aren't going away, for the simple reason that things cost money to make and the profit margin for video games is stretched razor thin. We might as well find a way that we'll be happy with it.

Yeah, keep eating Bioware's bullshit. After reading that article about CDProject Red last week, it's hardly surprising that people are complaining about what this Fernando Melo is saying.

Company defends its business strategies and notes that they sell well, gamers get angry and retort that they hate the company. Oh wait, that is the summary of an EA story, or was it a blizzard story... Activision... no wait...

I'm tired of both sides whining like pansies, I want my freaking modular games, dammit. I'm sick of gamers putting a road block to their development because of there short sighted calls of 'money grab' and I'm sick of developers being to pussy-shit to actual come out and do it for fear of losing money on unsold content.

There have been good parts and bad parts to Mass Effect 3's DLC, IMO.

The good is the microtransactions. The beauty of it is that it doesn't give you anything you can't simply get by playing the game more. People who want to get ahead and have the money to pay for it can, while people who don't have the money are not really worse off. It subsidizes the multiplayer content so people who wouldn't normally pay for stuff like map or weapons packs (ie me) can enjoy it at no cost. And due to the way Mass Effect 3 multiplayer works, it's not a "free multiplayer, pay to win" situation -- if someone on your team is packing top tier weapons thanks to paying for them, that's a good thing. Ultimately the microtransaction system that BioWare put into place for ME3 multiplayer is, IMO, genius. Also good was making the Extended Cut for free. There was probably a very tense discussion in the BioWare/EA offices before they decided to make that content free. Likely the only reason they did that was because they knew charging for it would just make more people upset, and the point of the extended cut was a peace offering to appease gamers who felt betrayed. I certainly appreciated the peace offering.

Not so genius was the day 1 DLC. Now, it may be that the "From Ashes" DLC was put into production after ME3's production was locked down, and it was legitimately developed separately from the main game. I get that. The problem lies with comparing it to BioWare's own past DLC. With Mass Effect 2 (and Dragon Age: Origins, for that matter) the first DLC character was free (well, free as long as you bought the game new). Mass Effect 2 had a second DLC character which they charged 560 points ($6.99) for. Then, Dragon Age II had a first day DLC character which they charged 560 points/$6.99 for unless you pre-ordered the "signature edition". Then Mass Effect 3 had a first day DLC character which they charged 800 points ($10.00) for. That's a sixth of the price of the game for much less content. It just seems that BioWare (well not BioWare really, EA executives are responsible for pricing) keeps trying to push the envelope with how much they can price gouge for DLC.

As for DLC in general, the basic problem is that it tends to be overpriced. Also, they don't seem to ever drop prices on DLC -- Mass Effect 2 sells for $20 now but its Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC can only be bought for $10. But I don't think that means it should be free or anything. I enjoyed Mass Effect 2's paid DLC content and didn't resent the fact that I had to pay for it (well, the story DLC, not the weapons packs). As for ME3's upcoming Leviathan DLC, I'll reserve judgement until it's actually released.

Honestly I feel Bioware has handled DLC very well (admittedly the day 1 character shit was shifty), they've given us plenty of free stuff and the multiplayer packs aren't too obnoxious.

Unfortunately, nothing erases THAT ENDING or the insulting, demeaning behavior they put on in the wake of it. So fuck them.

The day a customer is actually happy about an online pass is the day hell freezes over. Nobody has ever been happy with it. Ever. Ever. Ever.

I actually had my roommate time me. I pre-ordered the Collector's Edition of ME3 on 360 and timed how long it would take to open the game, update the game, type in over 5 online passes and day-1 DLC codes, download the DLC, load the game, and start playing. It took nearly 45 minutes.

45 minutes of hassling your customers before they can even play the game proper.

I then decided to play Xenoblade Chronicles. The entire process of jumping into the game took 1 minute, and everything I'd ever need, and WILL ever need, is on the disc. The game is complete and ready to go the second I put it in.

I miss those days.

Oh, this will be a fun thread.

I have no business criticizing the DLC for Mass Effect because I actually like how they handled the multiplayer stuff, and the stuff I should be mad at (single player day one DLC)....well, I bought it. Begrudgingly, I will add, but I bought it all the same. And I ended up enjoying it and feeling like the price was worth it, so...sorry, I guess.

Oh, but I can attack them for the online pass crap. If I hadn't bought the game new, I would have been extremely pissed to have to spend another 10 bucks just to play multiplayer.

Irridium:
So since this makes lots of money in the long run, that means they'll be able to afford to sell their games at a cheaper up-front cost, right? I mean, that's why there's a $60 price point, because they need to make back all the money they spent making it. But with these DLC's making a lot of money as well, that means we'll get cheaper games as a result of DLC helping make back the budget, right?

...

Right?

It's like I can hear the crickets chirping.

One of the biggest reasons why I no longer buy games on release is because of the environment DLC has created. I'm sick of having money squeezed out of me at every turn, and the only way I can show that dissatisfaction is with my wallet. Articles like this one about Assassin's Creed III are just begging me to wait for a price drop, GOTY edition, or to just skip the game altogether. There's too many good games out there for me to fork out so much on a single title.

I think most of the hate Bioware is getting for this is because people are still upset over ME3 (even though it's been months... yay grudges...). I mean, DLC is not going away. Day One DLC sucks, yes, but DLC in general is here to stay until something else more profitable becomes popular. Bioware has actually dealt with DLC reasonably well over all, the pros of micro transactions and free DLC outweighing the flub up with the Day One DLC in my eyes. I've bought their DLC before and never felt ripped off. Go Bioware!

I have absolutely no problems with any aspect of the Multiplayer DLC, even the gear collection system is decent and not so overbearing that purchasing supply packs is a must.

I do have issues with the fact that making money off of them is EAware's only priority. There are bugs in the f****** game that have been there since launch. The servers are utter garbage, latency is rampant along with losing connection to the servers during peak hours, certain characters have skills that combine with latency cause you to fall through the terrain and become completely useless when dead, two of the DLC maps have bugs, a third one is known to cause a crash to desktop.

Since launch, ME3 has only had one patch, but 3 multiplayer DLC's. Shows their priorities imo.

Gave up on Mass Effect after playing the Mass Effect 2 demo personally, but I will say that I tend to steer clear of DLC as a general rule these days, because I can't guarantee that I won't be ripped off. There are companies that either do it right already or would do it right if they made DLC, like Bethesda used to.

For example, if CDP RED released an expansion DLC for TW2, then I would be all over that because I know they would pack it full of unique and interesting content (given their recent morality).

Twilight_guy:
Company defends its business strategies and notes that they sell well, gamers get angry and retort that they hate the company. Oh wait, that is the summary of an EA story, or was it a blizzard story... Activision... no wait...

I'm tired of both sides whining like pansies, I want my freaking modular games, dammit. I'm sick of gamers putting a road block to their development because of there short sighted calls of 'money grab' and I'm sick of developers being to pussy-shit to actual come out and do it for fear of losing money on unsold content.

Stop reading these articles and comments sections then. That's like going to Mcdonalds and saying "I'm sick of all this fatty food, and being surrounded by fat people while I eat".

CardinalPiggles:

Twilight_guy:
Company defends its business strategies and notes that they sell well, gamers get angry and retort that they hate the company. Oh wait, that is the summary of an EA story, or was it a blizzard story... Activision... no wait...

I'm tired of both sides whining like pansies, I want my freaking modular games, dammit. I'm sick of gamers putting a road block to their development because of there short sighted calls of 'money grab' and I'm sick of developers being to pussy-shit to actual come out and do it for fear of losing money on unsold content.

Stop reading these articles and comments sections then. That's like going to Mcdonalds and saying "I'm sick of all this fatty food, and being surrounded by fat people while I eat".

Actually, since I'm not in a company and not in a position to make a company on my own all I can really do is talk and hope it helps change things. Since It'd be inappropriate to go into a random unrelated thread and try and talk about things like this, this is the appropriate venue.

Gennadios:
I have absolutely no problems with any aspect of the Multiplayer DLC, even the gear collection system is decent and not so overbearing that purchasing supply packs is a must.

I do have issues with the fact that making money off of them is EAware's only priority. There are bugs in the f****** game that have been there since launch. The servers are utter garbage, latency is rampant along with losing connection to the servers during peak hours, certain characters have skills that combine with latency cause you to fall through the terrain and become completely useless when dead, two of the DLC maps have bugs, a third one is known to cause a crash to desktop.

Since launch, ME3 has only had one patch, but 3 multiplayer DLC's. Shows their priorities imo.

Three patches actually, two if you don't count the day 1 patch.

The whole "We won't survive without our DLC!" thing is bullshit. We can look at CDProjekt RED as clear proof.
...But this is EA we're talking about, who need to spend tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to make some shiny graphics and fancy voice acting that other, significantly smaller developers easily put to shame.

Oh, thanks for telling us what we gamers like, Fernando Melo. It's so refreshing to be treated as a faceless profit margin demographic. Kudos too, on your convenient interpretation of sales data, and the gargantuan leap of false equivalency required to deem such figures as representative of overall customer satisfaction with your exploitative business model.

Ah, the sweet scent of corporate spin. Breathe deep, fellow consumers.

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