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Major Nelson Frames the GH II DLC Discussion 71

Posted by Zonk
from the gaah-complications dept.
Yesterday we discussed the mighty expensive Guitar Hero II downloadable content. Some readers had serious complaints, and their views jive with a lot of other commentators out there. Prior to an event related to the game Joystiq had the chance to sit down with Microsoft's Major Nelson, who attempted to frame the conversation and point out the difficulties associated with this project: "I used to work in the broadcasting industry and in music for a long time and I know that content is not linear. It's not like you go to iTunes, and you're buying the same thing. There's testing that's involved, and there's also licensing involved. There's a lot of elements involved. When there's music involved, that brings up a lot of licensing issues ... You have to consider the Leaderboard. People like to say it's the same [as on the PS2], but the licensing is not the same. You have to re-license it. It's a different platform. While on the surface it may look fairly simplistic, and people are saying 'XYZ should be done,' but we're not Red Octane. I work for Microsoft, and we're just the conduit at this point."
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Major Nelson Frames the GH II DLC Discussion

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  • Jeanie!!!!!!
  • Just don't buy the track packs at that price. If everyone put their money where their mouth was, and the track packs ended up flopping, they will have to lower the price, and will be wary of releasing future live content at those prices.

    Instead, everyone is going to bitch about it, but end up buying them anyways.
    • by Mitijea (718314)
      You can't just not buy it while keeping silent about why you are not buying it. There needs to be a clear difference between not buying it because the price is too high and not buying it because it is not wanted (at any price). If no one speaks out about why they are not purchasing the content, the developers could get the impression that it is unwanted and not release anymore, at any price. This would clearly not be what was intended by those not buying because the price is too high.
      • EXACTLY

        I want song packs... but I don't want them at that price. If no one buys them, and no one says why they aren't buying them then it's likely we'll just get a "the market doesn't want song packs so we wont make anymore".

        The problem with these song packs is just that too many people have their hands in the jar. I'm sure the RIAA want's full price for each song (a long the lines of what they get from an iTunes download) despite the fact that they can only be used in a limited capacity (in the game
  • by Is0m0rph (819726)
    I caved in. I wasn't going to buy them at that price but I was playing GH2 last night and my wife commented that $2 a song wasn't too much as far as she was concerned and I should buy them. Live Marketplace makes it too easy to buy stuff hehe. So I ended up with packs #2 and #3. But I won't buy #1 for that price damn it! I'm making a stand!
    • I caved in. I wasn't going to buy them at that price but I was playing GH2 last night and my wife commented that $2 a song wasn't too much as far as she was concerned and I should buy them. Live Marketplace makes it too easy to buy stuff hehe. So I ended up with packs #2 and #3. But I won't buy #1 for that price damn it! I'm making a stand!

      Then between the 2 of us we have 1 honest boycott. I bought pack #1, but won't buy the other two (just don't like them as much). That'll teach them! Damn them and the

      • by toolie (22684)
        Pack 1 looks good. I might end up getting the one with the Chili Peppers and Bad Religion eventually, but pack 1 is my favorite by far.
  • I've already been snookered, having bought both 1 and 2 for the PS2. Now they want me to pay another 90$ (180$ to match the set of guitars I have now) for content I already own, plus charge me 2$ a song?

    Make the Xbox360 version backwards compatible with the older hardware, and sell the program at $39.99 or some reasonable fee, and we'll talk. Otherwise, see ya in GH3.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by toolie (22684)
      I've already been snookered, having bought both 1 and 2 for the PS2. Now they want me to pay another 90$ (180$ to match the set of guitars I have now) for content I already own, plus charge me 2$ a song?

      Thats like saying you already own Office 2x for the Mac, you deserve to get Office 2x for the PC for $39.99. Different systems, it doesn't matter if it is mostly the same. Don't buy it if you already own it, it is for the people who don't already own it.
  • People, chill out. This is not some great travesty. If 3 songs at $10 dollars is worth it to you, then buy it. Otherwise don't. Quit yapping about it.
    • by nullChris (222844)
      Correction: 3 songs at just over $6.
    • by bateleur (814657)
      No, it's not a free market. Only Red Octane can create these packs. That's a monopoly.

      It's true that nobody's forced to buy them, but the annoyance is caused by the fact that people knew these packs would exist and were expecting a lower price point.
      • by toleraen (831634)
        No, no no, no no no. No. Stop tossing around the monopoly excuse. It's their content, they hold the IP for it, they are the ones allowed to create content for that particular game. Just like Bethesda holds the rights to sell expansions for Elder Scrolls, just like EA holds the rights to release booster packs for Battlefield, just like Blizzard has the rights to sell you a WoW t-shirt. There is no monopoly here.

        If you want free content, go play Frets on Fire. Voila, problem solved.
        • by bateleur (814657)
          Who said anything about free content? And who's disputing their IP ownership? All I was pointing out was that there is no free market for these add-on tracks.

          What they are doing is not illegal or anything like that, but it is a monopoly. If you don't think so, perhaps you'd be kind enough to link me to the dictionary you're using?
      • fine fine. Split hairs with me. It's a free market in the sense that, yes, as you mentioned, nobody is forcing you to buy these packs. You have the free market choice of buying them or not. That's the going rate. Is it worth it to you? There's no need to be emotional about it. Being annoyed is not going to change the price you pay...
  • One commenter pointed out that if all the old songs of the original PlayStation 2 version were released on Xbox Live, it would cost significantly more than simply buying both Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero II on the PS2. People feel flustered by that. Why are we paying more for old content?

    MN: Once again, it's not old content. The contracts have to be renegotiated on a new platform, and it's also involving digital distribution, so there's a lot of things involved.

    Major, you are not answering the questio
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JFMulder (59706)
      You said : You failed to answer why it costs MORE than the game.
      He said : The contracts have to be renegotiated on a new platform

      That pretty much sums it up. I bet the owners of the songs got greedy and wanted to get paid more per songs since they know how popular Guitar Hero is. Don't be surprised if the next Guitar Hero costs more and has less songs.
      • Unless I'm mistaken, I thought that Harmonix hired a house band to perform renditions of the songs, due in part to the fact that the licensing costs were cheaper to go that route. I'd be surprised if the house band retained ANY rights to their performance when they signed the contract to those songs as part of the publishing agreement. What I'm suggesting is that I don't think the performers were in a position to withhold their rights from the royalties from downloads, hence that argument is invalid.
        • by chromatic (9471)

          The songwriters still receive royalties, though I believe that's a fixed rate. (I never joined either US-based songwriting guild.)

          • by Starsmore (788910)
            It's been established elsewhere that the royalty fee for a cover song is something like 9 cents for a 5 minute song.
            • The original songwriter still gets his composition royalties. They're the same for the cover as they are for the original.
      • by doormat (63648)
        Actually I'd expect the next GH to cost the same, or maybe even less, but come with no more than 15 songs. Everything else is bought online. Why? Because they can get more money out of you that way. Its like the $50 printer and $30 ink cartridges.
      • by tbannist (230135)
        "The contracts have to be renegotiated on a new platform"

        That's not an answer, it's an excuse.

        Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if the reason they cost a lot more has something to do with pressure from Microsoft to set the price higher to "make the DL content valuable". The same reason why they were trying to force other companies with D/L content to charge for it. I expect Microsoft intends to make a lot of money off of their cut of D/L items.

        It's also possible that because the songs are now downloadable
    • Unfortunately, he has a point. It's the same logic that means that Austin Powers on DVD costs less than the Austin Powers soundtrack on CD.

      For example, maybe there's no Live multiplayer because the rights holders regard that as 'public performance' or 'broadcasting' and demanded more money. Or as soon as they heard 'these will be downloaded' figured it was just like downloading music, and demanded more for that. The way he mentioned leaderboarding makes me think that the price got jacked up for that.

  • New Gears Maps (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Serengeti (48438)
    Microsoft may just be a conduit in this case, but what about the Gears of War map releases that are due out, soon?? Mark Rein of Epic said that Epic wished to release the maps for free, but 'pressure' from Microsoft, who plays the role of both Gears of WArs' publisher, and the "conduit" Xbox Live Marketplace led them to stall the release (supposedly until an arrangement can be met). Garage Games has also mentioned that they have received 'encouragement' from Microsoft to charge for their DLC for Marble Blas
    • And don't take my argument the wrong way -- I think everyone deserves to be paid for their work, but I also believe that the creators of content should be allowed to decide what they should charge for that work. Certainly, a body that would benefit from that work simply due to its existence should not be included in that decision.

      That's the issue here, too many people need to get paid.

      The Song creators deserve a cut to license their work for the game. Master Recordings or not, it's their song.

      RedOc

      • by Serengeti (48438)
        Microsoft deserves a cut as the publisher for hosting / serving the files IE: getting them into the customer's hands.

        No, Microsoft deserves a cut as the service provider (Xbox Live), NOT as the publisher. Their job is to publish the game -- which they did, Gears has sold phenomonally. Are you saying that after their job is done (publishing, marketing), they deserve to earn more money for doing nothing more?

        Don't confuse Microsofts two roles in this (Gears of War) debate.

        And, in case you've overlooked this e
        • by trdrstv (986999)
          And, in case you've overlooked this element of the argument, Microsoft DOES get paid to be a service provider. I pay five bucks a month to access online content. That's 5 bucks more than I pay to access similar content on the internet for games like Half Life and Quake.

          You are actually paying $0 per month to access online content via Live. You Pay the $5 per month to play multiplayer games online and use Voice chat over Live. Considering Guitar Hero II supports neither, you would get the same access /ex

  • Once again, it's not old content. The contracts have to be renegotiated on a new platform, and it's also involving digital distribution, so there's a lot of things involved.

    Why are there a lot of things involved? And what "things" exactly?

    Look. The whole point to the music business is to get the music to the consumer. This makes it sound like they're falling over themselves to keep it from me. I have the version of the game this music is coming from. I have already paid them their extortion money. Why do I have to pay them even more now? Because the toy I'm playing it on is different?

    I call bullshit.

    • by Kalriath (849904)

      Once again, it's not old content. The contracts have to be renegotiated on a new platform, and it's also involving digital distribution, so there's a lot of things involved.

      Why are there a lot of things involved? And what "things" exactly?

      Look. The whole point to the music business is to get the music to the consumer. This makes it sound like they're falling over themselves to keep it from me. I have the version of the game this music is coming from. I have already paid them their extortion money. Why do I have to pay them even more now? Because the toy I'm playing it on is different?

      I call bullshit.

      No, you mistake the point of the music business. The point of the music business is to make the consumer pay as many times as possible for the same music. This certainly meets that agenda. Clearly you have never heard of the RIA* (the * is because the Recording Industry Associations in every country seem to act exactly the same, not just RIAA)

    • by Applekid (993327)
      "things" = back and forth negotiations. RIAA-reps = "Let's get the maximum cash for each track," Microsoft-reps = "Let's pay the minimum cash for each track."

      And let's face it, licensing terms are usually considered proprietary information, or at the very least "internal-use-only". I'm sure Red Octane didn't show all their cards to Microsoft as far as the licensing terms they got for some songs.

      On an aside, I'd be more interested to know if the downloadable content is, in deed, downloadable content or if th
      • by Keeper (56691)
        The downloads are ~30mb in size.
      • by Starsmore (788910)
        RIAA-reps = "Let's get the maximum cash for each track," Microsoft-reps = "Let's pay the minimum cash for each track."

        Nonono...

        RIAA-reps = "Let's get the maximum cash for each track," Microsoft-reps = "Ok. Let's triple it so we get our beefy cut too!"

        Fixed for you!

  • There's testing that's involved, and there's also licensing involved. There's a lot of elements involved. When there's music involved, that brings up a lot of licensing issues ... You have to consider the Leaderboard. People like to say it's the same [as on the PS2], but the licensing is not the same. You have to re-license it.

    It still makes no sense that the full song list for the original GH costs $97+ by extrapolation while GH2 including the controller, packaging, media and more songs (that required t

    • by trdrstv (986999)
      It still makes no sense that the full song list for the original GH costs $97+ by extrapolation while GH2 including the controller, packaging, media and more songs (that required the same testing, licensing and development work) costs $90. How can they possibly rationalize this?

      Because it isn't the same thing. Why does it cost more to buy individual dinners than eat at a buffet? Why does a whole car cost less than the sum of its' parts?

      • I'm sure there are quite a few people out there that would pay $39.99 for all of the GH1 tracks via Xbox Live. Care to guess whether they will ever offer that option? To use your analogy, it would be like going to a car dealership and being forced to pay for the sum of the parts of a car rather than being allowed to buy the whole thing. I'm not saying they won't make the "$39.99 for everything" offer, but I seriously doubt it.
    • by Rhonwyn (49658)
      He did say a lot of things were involved. One of those is inverse mathematics. See, the GH2 guitar actually costs them $-17 to make. So with the money made just by producing the guitar, they can sell the game at a profit.
    • They want to make money. That's the rationalization, if you could even apply such a heavy word. I don't know why you would even try to look deeper.
  • While on the surface it may look fairly simplistic, and people are saying 'XYZ should be done,' but we're not Red Octane. I work for Microsoft, and we're just the conduit at this point."

    I find it funny that they are trying to take a hands off approach on this, but with the Gears map update they are forcing a company to charge. Dear Microsoft, Face it, you're charging both ends, you charge the companies to use your marketplace, and you charge the customers to buy from it, and you play middleman with devel

    • by Saige (53303)
      Microsoft is also the publisher for Gears of War. The company owns the IP. So it's not a matter of telling someone else what they can charge, but deciding for themselves what to charge.

      If Epic was publishing the game themselves, then they could make the decisions about what to charge.
      • by Satanboy (253169)
        read a post from mark rein: http://gearsforums.epicgames.com/showthread.php?t= 567201&page=2 [epicgames.com]

        here's a summary of the important points:

        Why does Epic not have control over this even though we created this content on our own time and our own dime? Quite frankly Xbox Live Marketplace isn't our store. It's Microsoft's store. Like any retailer they have the right to figure out what goes on the shelves of their store and what price they sell it at. They spend the money to operate the store and deliver the cont

  • He says that this isn't the comparable to iTunes and he's right, it isn't. You can't listen to them on your computer, burn the tracks to a cd or put them on a portable music player AND they're only covers of the originals. Yes, obviously they are interactive but he's right, we can't compare them to iTunes songs. Instead, lets compare them to the tracks that came with Guitar Hero 2.

    There were 47 songs on Guitar Hero 1 and, at this price, they would cost close to $100 to download. That's the same as all of
    • by revoemag (589206)
      please stop comparing this to Gears. The difference on gears is that they were the publisher of that game and thus having funded it, they own it and can make all the decisions about what content to release when and at what price. as for GH, this is activision's call. blame them if you want to blame anyone.
    • by Bobartig (61456)
      His entire argument went down the crapper when he brought up the cost of digital distribution. The costs of digital distribution are pennies on the dollar compared to physical medium.

      Lets see:
      Physical Medium:
      1. Build engineer makes iso
      2. Mastering lab creates discs
      3. Engineers and testers test media
      3. First party verifies test media
      4. Artists create high resolution box art, disc art.
      5. Mastering facility creates final discs and packaging
      6. Game is assembled and shipped to warehouse
      7. Game sits in warehouse.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm sorry, I am not buying Nelson's justifications one bit. Please explain to me how GH is any different than Karaoke Revolution?

    Music based game revolving around licensed content (check)
    Original was PS2 exclusive (check)
    Later ported to the XBox (check)
    Additional songs available on XBox Live (check)

    Karaoke Revolution's price Per song = 1.00
    Guitar Hero's Price per song = 2.00

    Nelson says that Red Octane sets the pricing and that Microsoft is "just the conduit at this point". Wait a minute, didn't MS *force*
    • The difference, I believe, is Microsoft published Gears of War whereas Harmonix published GH/GH2. Publisher's have a lot of influence.
    • Maybe the Karaoke people had the foresight to negiotiate multi-platform releases.

      Maybe the copyright owners noticed that Guitar Hero is a hell of a lot more popular, and demanded more money.

      Guys, this isn't at all new. Go check out DVD forums and listen to all the bitching about why music in old series needs to be replaced; because they didn't have the rights for home 'video' distribution, and to acquire them now would be damn expensive. Nowadays, it's all written into the contracts; music rights, act

    • Believe it or not, the Discovery Channel put up the cash to have the maps for GOW be free.
  • JIBE (Score:3, Informative)

    by hambonewilkins (739531) on Thursday April 12, 2007 @07:25PM (#18710911)
    "their views jive with a lot of other commentators"

    I think you mean "jibe," as in "be in accord; agree" and not "jive," as in "a form of dance or slang talk."

    • "their views jive with a lot of other commentators"

      I think you mean "jibe," as in "be in accord; agree" and not "jive," as in "a form of dance or slang talk."


      Give it up. There's no one who "edits" at Slashdot who is qualified to check spelling, grammar, or meaning, never mind check submissions for idiocy.
  • ha, i remember going to the block for 3 for $5 deals, but they were always little baggies of a green leafy substance.

    seriously though, $2 a song isn't that bad and i like the 3 for 5 talk, but even the cats on the block let me pick my baggies out of a handful...whats with these prepackaged groups? also, i want NEW songs not 'new to xbox' songs. if they released some genuinely new content and allowed me to choose the 3 songs i got in the pack, i would have no complaints.
    • by kinglink (195330)
      Just a heads up it's more like 3 to $6.25

      But on the other hand I know people were willing to pay 2 dollars per song but now they are acting like this is too much? Go figure. Personally if I want the music it's a fair price, if I don't want the music it's not.
  • No, it's too expensive individually.
    1) I still have my PS2, I can buy the entire Guitar Hero 1 WITH a guitar for a decent price... AND I get the guitar. Heck, I can get two guitars for that price.
    2) If it IS that expensive, per Major Nelson, then sell the entire GH1 as a bundle for $89.99 with another guitar. I'd buy that.
    They are attributing the higher price for the individual packaging. Whereas, if you bundled it up, it would be cheaper. No different than buying music singles versus the entire album. If t
  • Seems to me, someone needs to start flexing some muscle.

    Giving the songs away for free seems like it would create far more benefits for everyone involved.

    1) RedOctane would benefit because word would spread, and more people would likely buy GH2.
    2) Microsoft benefits because it'd probably draw more people to Xbox Live subscriptions. Perhaps #1 would even cause some people to buy Xbox360's to get the GH2 on the Xbox due to the free songs.
    3) The song publishers would benefit because this is free, interactive
  • Unlimited it seems. Time and time again, Microsoft do something to shaft their customers, be it releasing new versions of consoles, before the last ones are dead (literally in the case of the 360!), or forcing Epic to make the GOW levels chargable.

    Then they make you buy some crappy game to get on the 3 week Halo 3 beta, and then charge you again to buy the full game!

    Now it seems when they are not releasing GH2 patches that brick your console, they are ripping of GH2 owners with expensive content...

    so 360 o
  • Why do these people think we are idiots? Their "justification" is pure garbage.

    The 360 GH 2 was going to be my first GH purchase, but after seeing the ridiculous prices for the song packs, I decided to just pass on the game all together.

    No sense in encouraging this behavior.

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