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Businesses The Almighty Buck Games

Cliff Bleszinski: Vote With Your Dollars 369

Posted by Soulskill
from the oh-i-will dept.
silentbrad writes "Cliff Bleszinski, formerly of Epic Games, posted a blog entry titled 'Nickels, dimes, and quarters' yesterday, advocating that gamers dissatisfied with the current trend toward DLC and microtransactions should vote with their wallets. Quoting: 'The video game industry is just that. An industry. Which means that it exists in a capitalistic world. You know, a free market. A place where you're welcome to spend your money on whatever you please or to refrain from spending that money. ... Adjusted for inflation, your average video game is actually cheaper than it ever has been. Never mind the ratio of the hours of joy you get from a game per dollar compared to film. To produce a high quality game it takes tens of millions of dollars, and when you add in marketing that can get up to 100+ million. ... I've seen a lot of comments online about microtransactions. They're a dirty word lately, it seems. Gamers are upset that publishers/developers are "nickel and diming them." They're raging at "big and evil corporations who are clueless and trying to steal their money." I'm going to come right out and say it. I'm tired of EA being seen as "the bad guy." I think it's bulls*** that EA has the 'scumbag EA' memes on Reddit and that Good Guy Valve can Do No Wrong. ... If you don't like EA, don't buy their games. If you don't like their microtransactions, don't spend money on them. It's that simple. ... The market as I have previously stated is in such a sense of turmoil that the old business model is either evolving, growing, or dying. No one really knows. "Free to play" aka "Free to spend 4 grand on it" is here to stay, like it or not. ... People like to act like we should go back to "the good ol' days" before microtransactions but they forget that arcades were the original change munchers. Those games were designed to make you lose so that you had to keep spending money on them. Ask any of the old Midway vets about their design techniques. The second to last boss in Mortal Kombat 2 was harder than the last boss, because when you see the last boss that's sometimes enough for a gamer. ... If you don't like the games, or the sales techniques, don't spend your money on them. You vote with your dollars.'"
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Cliff Bleszinski: Vote With Your Dollars

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  • Doesn't work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:32PM (#43048189) Journal

    I've been boycotting all the games with DRM and DLC for over a decade and it hasn't done shit.

    Also it's really too bad that there was nothing between the DLC Hell of the early 2010s and the Change-Muncher Hell of the 1980s...

    • Re:Doesn't work (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@NOspAM.gmail.com> on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:45PM (#43048325) Homepage

      I've been boycotting all the games with DRM and DLC for over a decade and it hasn't done shit.

      Odd, seemed to work just fine with Ubisoft. [rockpapershotgun.com] Since they were really the first big target of PC gamers and their "always on" DRM solution, I'd say it does work.

      • Re:Doesn't work (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Friday March 01, 2013 @04:18PM (#43049239) Homepage

        Ubisoft is schizophrenic when it comes to DRM; they zoom wildly from one extreme to the next.

        Case in point: Ubisoft originally was a major user of Starforce copy protection (e.g., Splinter Cell 2, Prince of Persia Sands of Time, and many others) and defended its use even as the software increasingly came under fire for compatibility and security issues.

        Then suddenly, it dropped Starforce altogether and announced it would be releasing its wares without copy protection (Prince of Persia (2008), Assassin's Creed).

        Followed by even more restrictive DRM using SecuROM on Assassin's Creed II (and other), requiring always-online DRM and an insistence that this would never be changed because that was the only way to deal with piracy on the PC platform.

        Later followed up by a loosening of their grip with one-time online-activation scheme, and later its UPlay store and its associated DRM.

        It's therefore hard to say that consumer backlash has ever had any affect on its decisions whether or not to use DRM; whenever it chose to use the copy-protection software, it stood by its decision long until after the uproar had dissipated to a glowering fury by consumers too tired to keep up the argument. It has always been fiery in defense of its choice of copy protection software, rebutting all arguments presented by its critics. Since Ubisoft does not seem to care what gamers say about its choices about DRM so its decisions to stop using it (or switch to another type of copy protection) likely have more to do with internal politics. Thus, using it not the best example to use about how consumer choice can affect the industry.

    • Re:Doesn't work (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xian97 (714198) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:45PM (#43048333)
      Boycotts don't usually work and even if they did, they will just blame slow sales on some other cause - piracy is always an easy target.
      • Re:Doesn't work (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JMJimmy (2036122) on Friday March 01, 2013 @04:09PM (#43049165)

        +1

        The thing that bothers me is that all the arguments that are made, do make sense from a business perspective but in reality people just want to know a few simple things:

        1) How much is this going to cost me at the end of the day? I may outlay $60 when I buy the game but then get an incomplete experience because 1/3rd (exaggerating) of the game has been held back for DLC. Call of Duty games now cost up to $180 for all the content. I'd rather everything be included up front with that price tag so I can decide if I want to blow my money or not.

        2) How long are the servers going to be online if the game has multiplayer - give me a date at the beginning, I don't care what it is but let me know

        3) If it is microtransactions am I realistically going to be able to complete the game without outlaying shit tonnes of cash? No one really has an issue with optional content - pay to be able to progress is what really pisses people off.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CrashPoint (564165)

      Also it's really too bad that there was nothing between the DLC Hell of the early 2010s and the Change-Muncher Hell of the 1980s...

      Do you mean the Boxed Expansion Hell of the 90's and early 00's? Because that was the popular machine to rage against at the time, complete with all the same hyperbole and unfounded accusations.

      • Re:Doesn't work (Score:4, Insightful)

        by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:10PM (#43048579) Journal

        Hell yeah, I'll take Boxed Expansion Hell in exchange for DRM Hell and DLC Hell in a second.

        • So basically, you're okay with DLC as long as they wait until they've made about forty bucks' worth of it, and then release it all in one package that you can buy only all at once and at a store?
          • Re:Doesn't work (Score:4, Insightful)

            by lgw (121541) on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:40PM (#43048863) Journal

            Expansions and sequels are cool. Buying in-game items less so, especially if the game is sold for one price, but you can only complete it by buying some additional price worth of dollar-store items.

            tl;dr: pay-to-play good, pay-to-win bad

            • Sure, but DLC doesn't automatically mean pay-to-win.
              • by lgw (121541)

                If you look closely, most of the complaints about DLC are about the pay-to-win stuff. Very few peple are annoyed with DLC expansions, unless the original "game" was misrepresented as complete when it was just "part 1" and you have to buy "expansions" just to get the game that was advertized (at which point it's arguably back to pay-to-win).

          • Re:Doesn't work (Score:5, Insightful)

            by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:52PM (#43048977)

            Sounds better than the current malarky of putting the data on the disk and charging me an unlock code for material that should have been in the damn game to begin with. Even worse is doing this shit with one time codes to prevent reselling games. This means one day I will lose that content even if I am the original owner. Personally they should have to label this stuff on the game in such a way that I can avoid it.

            It looks like one option I will likely take is to not buy a PS4 or 720.

            • Sounds better than the current malarky of putting the data on the disk and charging me an unlock code for material that should have been in the damn game to begin with. Even worse is doing this shit with one time codes to prevent reselling games.

              False dichotomy, as these practices are not inherent to the concept of DLC, nor exclusive to it.

          • Re:Doesn't work (Score:4, Insightful)

            by AnonyMouseCowWard (2542464) on Friday March 01, 2013 @04:29PM (#43049359)
            Y'know it's not _quite_ the same, depending on what type of DLC we're talking about?

            Back then, you could buy a game, play it, finish it, and enjoy it, and nothing mentioned any expansion packs. If you got an expansion, it was usually adding a new storyline, brand new levels, whatever, but a "new" game using the same game engine and same game universe.

            Example:
            Diablo 1: Finished the game, enjoyed it? Good. Oh wow, an expansion. Want to play as a monk, explore two new levels? Get the expansion. Don't want to? That's okay, no one will force you
            Dragon Age Origins: Hey look, an area on my map. *goes to area* Hey look, an NPC with a quest! *talks to NPC* Uh. What do you mean, I have to pay to download a DLC to play the quest you just offered?... I don't want to. Why do you have an area, why do you exist in my freaking game?

            And _that_ is the difference. Expansions don't prompt me, within my original game, to spend more money. It's entirely voluntary. DLCs just tease you.
        • "Hell yeah, I'll take Boxed Expansion Hell in exchange for DRM Hell and DLC Hell in a second."

          Don't blame you. I think more to the point, however, is that this is all a big "WHOOSH!" as far as OP is concerned. People (for the most part) aren't pissed off that EA et al. are trying to make money. They're pissed off that microtransactions are essentially paid cheating. People who have more money can buy their way to success. And that's pretty much antithetical to the whole gaming spirit, in which the better player is supposed to win.

    • Re:Doesn't work (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross AT yahoo DOT ca> on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:00PM (#43048483)

      Of course it works. It just takes time. Here is what happens when you and people boycott:

      1) Company writes you off as a loon
      2) Company keeps creating crap that people keep consuming
      3) You get angry because you feel like you are the only one who is wrong
      4) Sales slow down by company and they blame it on [fill in the blank]
      5) Company grows sales by acquiring the upcoming company who has "solved" the [fill in the blank] problem
      6) Company still can't grow like they used to, and they now blame it on [fill in the blank with reason 2]
      7) People begin to look at the hot new thing
      8) Company tries to get a foothold in new thing and comes out with revolutionary crap that nobody wants
      9) Company goes downhill!

      Case in point Microsoft and Linux. In the mobile game, the cloud game, and HTML game Microsoft has become IRRELEVANT! Yes people still use their devices due to legacy, but Windows 8 sucks, Windows mobile is a statistical error in market share and Microsoft keeps jacking up the costs and changes plans more often than I change my underwear.

      I manage a portfolio of stocks and follow the tech industry closely. Microsoft is not in the game whatsoever. They think the problem is mobile. HA that is the least of their problems. The real problem is big data (a'la IBM and Watson), it is micro devices (a'la Raspberry Pie) and a couple of other smaller niches (eg 3d printing, M2M, etc). In all of these niches Microsoft has ZERO, and I mean ZERO footprint! What does have footprint? Oh yeah Linux! Companies are now asking for Linux admins, and Linux developers.

      The same will happen with the games folks. The problem is our society demands immediate change, but change takes time...

      • by lgw (121541)

        Wow, reminds me of the early days of /. where "M$ sucks" was always good for a 5 Insightful.

        Microsoft still runs the world's largest web mail product, which is the sort of thing that is apparently "in the cloud" and "big data" now, along with some other cloud services that have lots of users because they're bundled with Win8, which most new PCs and laptops come with.

        The silly Win8 shell actually makes sense on mobile devices, but I agree: too little, too late. And while we may be entering the "post PC era"

    • Re:Doesn't work (Score:5, Insightful)

      by durrr (1316311) on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:03PM (#43048515)

      The problem with DLC can be traced back to one statement
      "Adjusted for inflation, your average video game is actually cheaper than it ever has been."
      And adjusted for inflation, oh wait, we don't adjust low wage incomes for inflation. Which means that if you aren't Cliff Belzebub, a lawyer, poltician, or rich in some other way, your wages have become cheaper at the same rate as games, and then DLC was added, and the whole game experience became twice as expensive.

    • by dumky (598905)
      Of course, it works: you haven't spent money on products that you don't support. Those companies and products have done you no harm.
      If by "doesn't work" you mean other people did not have the same behavior as you, that is not the game editor's problem. That is your problem. Maybe you should try to convince people to adopt your preferences.
    • I've saved a ton of money by not buying a single game since Quake II
    • Re:Doesn't work (Score:4, Insightful)

      by c0d3g33k (102699) on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:13PM (#43048599)

      I'll second that.

      As a rule, I don't buy games with DRM, and I stopped that before DLC became popular, so never even had to face that choice. Sometimes games with DRM on WIndows will have Linux versions that aren't DRM encumbered - they are few and far between but I will buy those. I stopped buying Cliff'y B's games a long time ago because Epic stopped being Linux friendly. Nothing changed.

      Currently, I spend my money on DRM-free games at gog.com, Humble Bundles, the occasional Android app and on DRM-free PC games like The Witcher. I've got more games than I have time to play and I find them more enjoyable than the current A-list games I've tried at a friend's house. I'm happy with my gaming choices and don't seem to be missing anything.

      I conclude I must not be part of the target demographic of the mainstream gaming industry - I don't really miss them and they don't seem to miss me.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Have you looked into kickstarter?
        I know there is risk there, but I am waiting on 3 games and so far getting good updates on all of them save for the DFA. Wasteland and the new carmageddon seem to be coming along nicely.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lonewolf666 (259450)

        Currently, I spend my money on DRM-free games at gog.com, Humble Bundles, the occasional Android app and on DRM-free PC games like The Witcher. I've got more games than I have time to play and I find them more enjoyable than the current A-list games I've tried at a friend's house.

        Sounds believable to me. GOG releases tend to be 10 year old games, but that is not as bad as it might sound.
        Game design has not really improved in the last 10 years. Graphics have, but even there "10 years old" starts to move into the realm of being adequate.

    • A boycott is not just you not purchasing something. A boycott is also you going out and damaging the business by getting others to share in the act of not purchasing. This is word of mouth, picket, post, and hell even take out Newspaper ads to support your boycott.

      boycott [bkt] vb (tr) to refuse to have dealings with (a person, organization, etc.) or refuse to buy (a product) as a protest or means of coercion to boycott foreign produce

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      the "vote with your money" Argument is a flawed argument. It implies the group that make such a decision can influence the significantly larger group who are simply accepting the microtransactions in this case. It's so invalid that it amazes me that people still make this argument.

      Instead of damning EA for being shit, they damn people for buying EA's shit. How hard is this to figure out? Microtransactions are a deliberate scam designed to prey on how human beings are wired, in that small transactions have

      • Re:Doesn't work (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Intropy (2009018) on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:29PM (#43048753)

        The people making the micropayments are voting too. They're just voting the opposite way from you.

        • No, they're buying a product or service. That would be like saying "I vote to support lawyers because I had to hire one" or "I vote to support the food industry because I need to buy food". Sure, video games aren't a necessity, but it's the same principle.
    • Understand the objection to DRM, but what's the objection to DLC?

      In reality, the number of games I've bought that I like enough to want to play months later is relatively low. The ability to eek more functionality out of them by buying add-ons is a plus... isn't it? Or am I missing something?

      Or is this about the Democratic Leadership Committee, not Downloadable L. Content?

      • Understand the objection to DRM, but what's the objection to DLC?

        It's not necessarily the DLC itself, it's the idea that companies are shorting content on the original purchase (the "full" game) in order to sell the content to you at a later date.

        Case in point - last year I bought a used copy of Mass Effect 2 for the PS3. On the box there was a heading that stated "INCLUDED ON THIS DISC:" However, once I put the game in my machine, I discovered that the content listed was not, in fact, included on the disc - it was DLC, and I was not able to access it as I did not have t

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        What people don't like is when the end of the game is DLC or that launch day stuff on the disk is locked out unless you buy the DLC. The game companies are moving what would be game content normally into DLC packs to drive up the price of the game without letting buyers know about it ahead of time.

      • The main objection to DLC is the (not so much) hidden incentive for the company to make the DLC pretty much mandatory to win. DLC isn't all about another look on your character, some shiny to show off or put on your trophy case or a new paint job for your racing car. Nobody would complain about that, but this is only the tip of the ice berg and not really an issue. Also, I doubt anyone has an issue with a "mission pack" or other addons that could offer a new branch in the story or new playable character cla

    • Re:Doesn't work (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Friday March 01, 2013 @06:05PM (#43050343) Journal

      Actually YOU ARE WRONG it HAS done something, it has just taken time. Proof? EA is for sale, Activision is being restructured....hmmm....those are the two biggest dickwad game companies, are they not?

      Meanwhile more and more games are coming to GOG and Steam, SecuROM and StarFuck are all but dead, I'd say we have plenty of proof that voting with your dollars WORKS, its just not gonna magically happen overnight which is why you have to keep reminding our ADHD populace that like any change voting with your dollars takes time. When you are talking about a billion dollar company it takes time to turn the ship, you can bleed them for a couple of years before the bank accounts start to empty. Look at MSFT, I figure it'll take another 2 years of Windows "LOL I Iz A Cellphone" bombing before the board fires Ballmer and splits mobile off from desktops but it WILL happen if people refuse to buy their shitty product.

      So he is right, voting with your dollars WORKS, it just isn't magic, it takes time to really hurt a super sized corp. I've refused to buy any "phone home" games or games infected with crap like StarFuck, now I have a Steam library full of great games at affordable prices, and I didn't compromise my beliefs AT ALL. I don't have a problem with DLC as long as its not "pay to win" like the silly hats in TF2, the vehicles in Saints Row 3, or if they offer full expansion packs like Gearbox did with Borderlands? I got NO PROBLEM paying $10 for an expansion that keeps the game going past the end of the story. It took me around 14 hours to do all the stuff in General Knoxx, which at $10 is damned cheap for the amount of fun I had, so no problem.

      But voting with your dollars is simple and easy...don't buy shit. That's it, don't buy shit, if it treats you bad, treats you like a chump, its shit so don't buy shit. Is that SO hard?

  • by Vicarius (1093097) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:32PM (#43048191)

    If you don't like their microtransactions, don't spend money on them. It's that simple.

    Sometimes I don't mind microtransactions, but they have power to ruin otherwise perfectly good game, and that's my major problem with them.

    • by spazdor (902907) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:38PM (#43048237)

      And, if you don't like Scumbag EA memes and blog posts which lambaste microtransactions as a shitty business model, don't click them. Blogging exists as an open, participatory model - a "free market", if you will. And you're welcome to spend your time reading opinions from any niche you like, or refrain from spending that time.

      The meme I would use to describe Cliff Blezinski right now: old man yells at cloud [thesuburbanjungle.com]

      • The point is that people make 'Scumbag EA' memes regardless of what EA is doing, whether or not it's actually good or, indeed, whether or not it affects them at all.

        I have no love lost for EA--I used to work for them, after all--but knee jerk reactions are ugly and pointless.

        Knee-jerk hate is something the tech community is good at, though. Microsoft was the butt of it for a while, now it's Apple. EA gets it in the teeth at the moment, while Valve can do no wrong even while they're doing largely the same th

        • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:58PM (#43049037)

          The point is EA are scumbags. I guess speaking truth to power now really is a revolutionary act.

          Just this week they release an android racing game that if you want to fix your car you either wait X hours or pay some fee. That is how a scumbag acts. They are charging for something that is part of the damn core game. Sure they give the game away for free, but they make it impossible to play that way. Just sell it for a fixed price like an honest person, not some hidden ever rising cost to play.

          Since when are valve games built on the practice of charging to play instead of sold like an honest person? I bought one copy of Portal 2, since it was the PS3 one I also got the PC game via steam. I don't have to wait X hours to make the blue portal or pay a $1 to do it now. I don't have to pay $1 to replace GladOs's potato.

    • by Extremus (1043274)

      You should put in the addiction factor. Some companies want you addicted to the game. And you become, in one level or another.

    • by Zerth (26112) on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:01PM (#43048499)

      I'd love to vote with my dollars, but EA keeps interpreting my "no" votes as piracy

      Games where I can't possible spend more than the equivalent of two full games on items that materially affect gameplay and are permantent(ships, weapons, etc) or where the stuff is purely cosmetic, I don't mind.

      What gets annoying are games where the microtransactions hide that you will end up spending hundreds of dollars on temporary boosts, disabling annoying features, and buying "action points" or "resources" that are clearly designed to limit how long you can play per session.

    • by RoverDaddy (869116) on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:18PM (#43048643) Homepage
      My problem with microtransactions is that the economics of the model seems to drive them to be geared toward the 'whales', as in people gullible enough to sink hundreds to thousands of dollars playing a trivial mobile game. Say there's a free-to-play game I download and find I like. I might want to reward the developer by paying 5 or 10 dollars for it (a kind of price that seems reasonable for a mobile game). But if I look through the microtransaction store, I invariably find that 5 to 10 dollars buys exactly -squat- worth of benefit in the game. It looks so greedy and makes me feel like I'd be a total rube to even give them a dollar. But there is no 'reasonable' option in the store because it's aiming for people who will actually pay $20 or more for a meaningless virtual trinket. Sorry that's just not going to be me.
  • by dehole (1577363) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:37PM (#43048221)

    Sure, we can vote with our dollars, and we do. At the same time, we can freely complain about EA adding micro transactions, or any/all forms of DRM.

    If you have noticed, if enough customers complain about something, sometimes, things change. So asking us to just vote with our dollars is asking us to reduce our potential power. So if you don't like EA's microtransactions, or any form of always on DRM, then boycott them, AND complain about it verbosely everywhere you want to.

    • by fermion (181285)
      You know dollars are the only thing that matters. If you are willing to buy stuff so the company can make a profit, or even just cover costs, nothing anyone says is going to change anything. The auto industry in the US only changed because no one was buying cars, and has not changed very much because the Ronald Reagan gave them a bunch of free money.

      Years ago I was not able to tolerate the copy protection. I wanted to play with a game to see if it was any good, I wanted to play it whatever machine I wa

    • If you just stop buying something from a company, and say nothing, well then they really don't know why. They may make an incorrect inference as to what your problem was. For example let's say a game comes out with a new DRM that you hate, and also features a new kind of user input that you like. You don't buy it because of the DRM, but you don't speak up. Same with everyone else, they all like the new input, but hate the DRM, but are silent. The game company looks at the abysmal sales and says "Man that ne

  • per se, but when a company releases DLC WITH the game, users feel that it should have been part of the game to start, not an additional charge.

    If the same company released the same DLC 6 weeks after release, no one would raise an eyebrow.

    • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:47PM (#43048365) Homepage Journal
      DLC that is extra content tacked onto the game is nice, it's basically a form of support you wouldn't get in the old days.

      DLC that is made by cutting features before the game is released and then selling them separately is what people hate. A good example of this is the recent XCOM game. There is Day-0 DLC that opens up the option to change the visual appearance of your soldiers, including armor colors, that was obviously chopped out of the game at the last minute just to make the DLC pack. That's just bullshit straight up. A 6 week delay on it would have just added insult to injury.

      The second DLC offering consisted of map packs and a scenario, and is much more what I would consider legitimate DLC. It wasn't very good, but it doesn't make me angry like the day 0 DLC did.
    • by David_Hart (1184661) on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:19PM (#43048653)

      Gamers get upset when features of a game are deliberately removed or the game is shortened just to create a DLC. DLCs were originally created as a way of extending the life of the game by adding new scenarios, quests, etc. on top of the main storyline.

      I finished the Dawnguard DLC and I'm just finishing the Dragonborn DLC for Skyrim. Skyrim took me four months to complete between holidays, work, life, etc. (Granted, you could play the main quest in a day or two, but I dragged it out while I did all of the side quests). The Dragonborn DLC added another couple of weeks of game play for me extending the life of the game, which is the way a DLC is supposed to work.

    • Realistically, if DLC didn't exist then that day-one DLC just would never have been developed at all. It's a myth that the developers would have made the game better or longer if not for DLC. Developers/publishers get to choose how much development effort to put into a game and if their revenue is capped at $60 for all time then they'll just develop less content.

  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:40PM (#43048255)

    Gamers have just as much right to whine about a company's pricing policy as the industry insiders have a right to whine about their customers' dislike of their policy. So the industry's getting sick of the complaining? Presumably, they're worried that if there's too much publicity of the issue, customers actually will start voting with their dollars.

    He's right, it's a business. A business that ignores its customers doesn't usually last too long.

    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nametaken (610866) on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:38PM (#43048829)

      I get a little aggravated with the, "games cost $100 million dollars to make and you pay too little" bullshit too.

      We see good games made and sold that turn massive profit on small budgets, all the time. Yes, it's hard work. No, you can't do that every three months.

      So they spend $90million of the budget on marketing... and then bitch that they're only getting $60 per title plus $50 annual subscriptions plus DLC revenues.

      Make good shit. Make fewer games, with fewer people. If it's good you won't have to spend 90% of your budget on advertising. If you want to go the, "pump out another shitty madden title" route with 10 titles, all year long, then don't be surprised that you have to spend $90 million on advertising. And don't then bitch that you're not getting enough money. And don't try to remedy that with bullshit like always-on DRM and microtransactions.

  • by Jailbrekr (73837) <jailbrekr@digitaladdiction.net> on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:41PM (#43048269) Homepage

    We already do you pompus twit. We rail against companies like EA for many reasons, and the games they produce is only part of it. We also rail against them because they are a HORRIBLE COMPANY TO WORK FOR. I've been approached twice for a job with EA in the last year, and twice I've politely declined despite the numbers looking good. Why? Because they suck.

  • Once again... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:41PM (#43048275) Homepage

    ... gaming addicts (you should know if you are one or not) are the least mentally and/or emotionally disciplined people. So talk all you like about "vote with your dollars... quarters... dimes... nickels... pennies..." and they may even agree with you (providing they paid attention long enough and actually understood any of what you said) but the moment something they want appears, it won't matter.

    But this is essentially true of ALL humans. Any time people want something enough, they will mentally and emotionally justify it in the most ridiculous ways denying and defying all reason, morality or logic to their deaths. We all have that flaw to varying degrees. (Except for me... I'm perfect... j/k)

    Marketers know how to exploit this human weakness. And without proper law restricting what marketers can do, we will not see an end to it. And it's not like suck measures are without precedent. Look to tobacco, drugs and alcohol advertisements. For that matter, when was the last time you saw an ad on TV for firearms? Wonder why that is?

    On the other hand, ever watch some of those late-night, off-branded TV networks? The ridiculous ads and pitches there? Most of them are disgustingly targetted at the stupid, the old or both. "Hey! I've got sonic hearing!!" I'm not saying there is a hell, but if there was one, the people who peddle that stuff certainly need to relocate there. But back to my point.

    Gamers -- especially gamer addicts -- will not stand up for what they believe in over getting that next achievement unlocked.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I remember buying many new and re-release full price games for £1.99 in the 80's.
    Console games seemed ridiculously expensive my comparison.

  • by Dachannien (617929) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:43PM (#43048299)

    I'll readily admit to spending money on microtransactions that I thought were worthwhile. Turbine's games, for instance, at least have some value in some of the transactions. The issue is that EA is so bad at veiling their attempt to suck their customers dry.

    Take, for instance, today's reports [theverge.com] from The Verge on EA's Real Racing 3. In this game, you pay Real Money to repair damage to your car, and you pay More Real Money to make those repairs take less time.

    What they essentially did was say, "Here's a game that totally looks awesome, but we made it suck so that you can pay us money to unsuck it." And worse yet, they did this in a game that already has ample opportunities for purchasing value-added content (e.g., new cars, new tracks, new music, special paintjobs, etc.).

    I guess when they sued Zynga over that whole Sims ripoff, they started looking at what Zynga was doing and thought it was a wonderful idea, so then they just ripped off Zynga's entire business model and turned it to eleven.

  • by AaronLS (1804210) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:43PM (#43048313)

    I don't buy EA games for completely different reasons regarding design and other issues I've encountered. I do play some of their Free to play. I love the free to play model because now friends can play together with little investment in the game. Most free to play games are not play-to-win. The stuff people spend tons of money is really quite pointless, but if they are supporting the game then that's fine by me. It's about like buying plastic spinners for your rims. To each his own.

    I don't really care about micro transactions. If the game itself was worth $60 and you bought it, you have it. Years ago once you bought a game, you expected to play it awhile and then be done with it. Now we have DLC's that extend the enjoyment, and if the money isn't worth it to you, then don't buy it.

    It's not like they are shutting you out of what you already payed for. That's what I'd really worry about, is when you put alot of money into something, but it isn't really yours. A lot of people got hosed when the Company of Heroes free2play went under. Think of all the gaming networks that have went under. Lots of games only supported multiplayer through those networks. Only in some cases did people figure out unstable hacks to get the multiplayer working again without those networks. Do you think these places like EA/Origin and Steam will be around forever? I only buy games on Steam that really cheap(i.e. old or on a big sale). I buy them knowing they won't be there forever, yet I enjoy the convenience of an easy reliable installation. I have to say that is one thing that is nice, is no surprises/junk systray junk you used to get with standalone installers. IMO Steam has a pretty unintrusive design, which I find respectable. When you right-click Exit it stops the downloads, etc. They don't even use their user's as torrent distribution network, which I bet a lot of other companies in their shoes would do.

    • The fact that you don't actually have a copy of it does not extend to just games.

      Software as as service (SaaS) is not just in games. You don't actually own it, and you get the privilege of purchasing it again and again every year.

      In the Enterprise world it has been increasingly common over the last many years. SalesForce, SuccessFactors, Nimble, and other big CRM companies are delivered as SAAS. Many big companies like IBM and Oracle have been moving various systems over.

      That's my same argument about

  • If you don't like EA, don't buy their games.

    I won't. Thank you for the advice. And, yes, EA is evil. It's companies like EA that don't care at all about their products and only care about their profits that give capitalism a bad name. Perhaps that's the biggest problem with large companies: that they tend to lose sight of their original purpose which is rarely just to make money.

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:45PM (#43048341)

    DLC and so on exist because they make money.

    If someone comes along and makes *more* money with a different business model people will flock to that.

    It's not just 'don't buy it' it's 'buy something else in the same industry that is a better value'. If you want to sell me a DLC for 20 bucks (think Dragonborn expansion to Skyrim) that's a good value. It's basically an expansion pack without the box. But then you have to actually say how many copies you sold, so that everyone else knows this is a good idea.

    If you make some horse armour for 5 dollars and sell a 1000 copies of it, the market has already spoken. If you make an expansion pack for 20 bucks and sell 5 million of them, the market has spoken too. But without some sales figures (and those two numbers were entirely made up), there's no easy way to know what does and what doesn't work.

    If you look at Saints Row the Third on PC, on Steam. There are 3 options for the game (ignoring the strategy guide). The base game (40 dollars), the game with all DLC (50 dollars) or the all the DLC individually for 82. I'm going to go out on a limb and say they aren't selling a lot of the 'all the dlc' individually. All that DLC for 10 bucks that's not a bad deal. All that DLC for 80 is terrible. But well, I'm pretty sure it's only really rich or stupid people buying for 80 dollars what they can get for 50.

  • I don't make micropayments. I appreciate games which make it clear when a player has purchased an item. "You were killed by custom sniper rifle." I think to myself, they paid 30 cents to be superior.

    I do sometimes pay per-month fees, if the game itself is good. I think this is justified for MMO games, due to server and bandwidth requirements.

    For games such as the sims, I buy the expansions but would not pay for continuous on-line DRM.

    It feels so good to play this way, it makes the pay-to-excel ga
  • Why does it cost 10s of millions to make a game? I've seen indie games like minecraft or terarria or a bunch of kickstarter games like FTL be very successful and actually fun to play rather than the latest COD15 or madden 2531 clones or remakes that have high production values. I don't think games that are budgeted like Hollywood movies are the only ones i would consider games.
    What i don't like is after you charge 50$ you then charge extra for things like new content. Especially zero day released DLCs. B

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by CrashPoint (564165)

      Back in the good old days, missing or new content was just given with new patches and there was no charge for them.

      False. That stuff was either put into expansion packs or packed into a sequel. Extra content at no charge has always been the exception, not the rule. The only thing new about DLC is the delivery mechanism.

  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:47PM (#43048367)

    I don't buy EA's games already. There are two problems. They continue to make crappy games, and the industry tends to follow the big leaders examples. It isn't like EA is making bucketloads of money with that strategy, they lost, what, a few hundred million last year? Something like that. Obviously, people are already not buying their games. But they aren't listening. Instead, they make Real Racing 3 and charge $80 for a single ingame car, and they've stated explicitly that they intend to focus even more on F2P, microtransactions, mobile games, and DLC to increase their revenue. Why? Because they've seen how much that strategy can make, without realizing they probably never will because their games are crap (and their prices are as well). Then we have other people who look at them going down that path, think "thats a good idea", and overall we end up with lots more shit games, and whats more, games that could be good. You see, F2P can work, but not in every case, and not when run by incompetent money-grabbing arseholes.

    Which brings me to my second point. The publishers own lots of promising IP. For example, EA owns Bioware. Bioware was an amazing studio. They made one of my favorite games ever, KOTOR, and Baldur's gate, and similar. Now, though, they've ended up being destroyed and ripped apart by EA's focus on making money in the short term (which, as mentioned above, doesn't even work), and instead of producing gems like they have, they produce crap like SWTOR (sure, some people might like it, but it's nothing at heart but a cheap WoW rip-off), or the "ending" to Mass Effect 3. So we end up with games that should have been good, and even in some cases are if you move past the micro-transaction crap (like the aforementioned Real Racing 3 aparently is), but are simply stupid thanks to the publishers greed.

    So in short, people already are voting with their wallets. The big studios just aren't listening, because they're run by a bunch of marketers and buzzword-obsessed executives, not by the people who actually care about the games themselves (except, of course, for the privately own Valve, which is why so many people praise them). Plus, of course, you can't get everyone to stop spending money, especially because a lot of gamers genuinely do like playing AAA titles, and if we stopped playing every game with DLC we simply wouldn't be playing AAA titles anymore. We'd just prefer not to be asked to insert our credit card every 5 minutes.

    • by luther349 (645380)
      its not just ea all the big company's have been going downhill with the same old remakes over and over with even more dlc. and people have been voting with there wallets console game sales are at a all time low of course they blame everything but the fact its all the overpriced garbage they keep putting out. where the indie market and mobile sales are going up but lets face it you don't pay 60$ for a android title only to have it want another 60$ in dlc. the free app market is different you got it for free
  • But cliffy... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:48PM (#43048375)

    I already vote with my dollars. Also, someone doing the "Well, we're stuck with it and you're just feeling entitled. Suddenly getting upset about this microtransaciton movement is just a phase. Remember arcades? Remember expansion packs?"

    I didn't know Cliffy B trolled on /v/.
    Let's break it down:

    In a free to play game, I have no issue with microtransactions. I didn't pay for the game, so if I want a level 72 fuzzy strap-on I should have to pay for someone's development time. Like Mechwarrior Online or anything Zynga related. You don't have to pay to play, but you get perks if you throw money their way.

    In a game where I spent a little and the primary focus is multiplayer, paying for advantages isn't so bad so long as everyone has the same chance of droprate. Like Valve's Team Fortress 2. You can buy a hat, or buy a nutblaster for scout. Or if you're patient and lucky, wait for the random wheel to drop that nutblaster you wanted.

    Then there's full priced games. And this is what pisses people off. I paid to play a complete game. EA frequently has things completed and ships it with the game. It's not an expansion, it's already completed code and artwork. Contrast with WB's Mortal Kombat 9. Some of the stuff was on-disc fluff like Scorpion's outfit. Other stuff wasn't completed when the game went gold, like Rain.

    EA (since Cliffy used them as the example) had a game like Dragon Age where after you come to camp a guy begs you to save his grandma. And you can save his grandma for a nominal fee of $10. On day zero of the game being released.

    See, the problem isn't that we're paying for extras. We're being dicked for parts of a complete game that isn't even cosmetic. You can try to bring up arcades and expansion packs, but the truth is I owned consoles so I wouldn't be nickle and dimed at the arcades (for better or worse). And PC games. I'm old enough to remember a time when they shipped a game and it was as bug free as possible. Remember bug testing? Remember when that was a thing and the testers weren't so horribly underpaid and then fired? Remember when games weren't shipped as alpha tests with microtransactions setup that you could only HOPE the devs would fix some day? Remember when patches were to fix this bizarro world of doing 38 things that might make it so you could get out of the map instead of "clicking on cancel and then yes deletes system32"? Remember when quality MATTERED? Remember when an expansion meant that the game was so popular that they went and made MORE game for you?

    And since when should I boo-hoo about living in Seattle or Frisco? You can live out in Federal Way or down in Vancouver (BC or WA) you know. We live in a society where internet is relatively cheap and prominent (and tax deductible). Why aren't you guys living in a cheaper place and coding from home? Your HQ doesn't need to be more than an office space really. Look at the guys who are making Universe Sandbox 3. That is both visually stunning AND coded by people from around the globe.

    So, how about you quit crying about not affording the next lamborgini and start making games (you know, the supposed reason the industry exists) instead of tiny slot machines with a cover charge in the casino?

    P.S. Captcha: unmoved

  • EA pissed me off one time too many and have been voting with my dollars for years (full disclosure: I did get ME and ME2 as gifts, but EA got the money in any case, so I certainly played them). If I want to call EA scumbags for doing it, then I will call them scumbags and free speech too is part of that same free market. Don't get all butthurt by it.

  • by Sydin (2598829) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:52PM (#43048411)
    Well, not entirely. They're considered 'scumbags' because they have a habit of buying up small studios and either gutting them for the sole purpose of eliminating a competitor or forcing them to wring out their talents and IP's until nothing is left but a shriveled husk. Maxis, Bioware, Pandemic, Origin Systems; I could keep this list going for awhile yet. EA could make an entire game based around micro-transactions, but it would still be a drop in the bucket next to the greater crime of smashing every talented studio they can hit with their money hammer just to keep the little guy down.
    • by Algae_94 (2017070)
      In case you live under a rock, this is how all business is. Companies merge and acquire smaller competitors. They take the parts that help them and remove the dead weight.

      They're just game studios, unless you had a vested interest in one of those studios, don't take it so personal.
  • Explanation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:53PM (#43048417) Homepage Journal

    When someone tells you to stop complaining about a product, but to simply not buy the thing you're complaining about, what he really means is:

    Shut up! I can't make you buy my crap, but your complaining is getting other people not to buy it also! Now I won't make the money I'm entitled to!

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:55PM (#43048435)

    People like to act like we should go back to "the good ol' days" before microtransactions but they forget that arcades were the original change munchers.

    Industry would like to revive the change-munching model, but they forget that once the alternative of pay-once-and-own games via consoles and PCs (in the broad sense, not specific to one hardware/OS platform) became accessible, arcades began their long decline.

  • Free-to-play and pay entrance fee then microtransactions can both work, while a huge buy-in also works. What people are complaining about with EA is that they took (are taking?) a huge buy-in game THEN tacking the microtransactions on top of that. Paying $60 (or so) for a game then having to pay more for in game resources is ludicrus (Incidentally, there is a game I own that does exactly this, and it's not from EA). Paying $20 then being able to buy cosmetic items and side-grades (Team Fortress 2 before it
  • If Cliff doesn't like the memes and complaints, perhaps he should boycott Reddit until they stop? It's a free market after all.

    That sounds just about as effective as telling (at best) 2% of the gaming population to STFU, boycott and expect things to magically change.
  • by Zephyn (415698) on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:53PM (#43048989)

    Simply put, customers already are voting with their wallets.

    How's [gamasutra.com] that [forbes.com] working [gengame.net] out [gamesindustry.biz] for [cnn.com] you? [bgr.com]

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:58PM (#43049051) Homepage

    If you don't like their microtransactions, don't spend money on them. It's that simple.

    Some, maybe most, are bitching and paying because they are tools. But some, myself included, don't do microtransctions, and dislike them because they are being abused in the economic efficiency sense.

    The free market is not perfectly efficient. Consumers are not perfectly informed, they don't fully amortize long run versus short run, markets aren't perfectly competitive, etc. Microtransactions may be an economic distortion, particularly in the competition and long-run v. short run sense. They shift the cost from the short run gate to the long run captive audience. That has a tendency to distort market price upward from what would otherwise be equilibrium. It also has some benefits, like inexpensive test driving -- but we are already way past, "It's that simple."

    It is not that simple for everyone. Some people are playing a deeper game. Some people want our system to become stronger over time, so we can all become more productive in the long run. Those people think about system stocks, flows, forces, and feedback, and do not believe the economy can be reduced to trite platitudes.

  • Valve != good guys (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Friday March 01, 2013 @04:07PM (#43049125) Journal

    Personally I just see in EA a sort of banal, brainless corporate "squeeze it until it bleeds dry" greed.

    Steam (ie Valve's greatest product) is a giant sucking parasite perched on the carotid of modern gaming. It is the worst thing to happen to gaming, ever, and consumers are too stupid to see it.

    Steam offered a brave new world of content delivery, and it was great. Except for the worm in the apple: the fact that they are NOT just a delivery organ, they are a license-management organ. No resale. No gifting of products (once they've been played). No transfers of licenses in any circumstance.*

    Further, the system is stupid: if I'm logged in to Steam because I want to edit a Civ5 scenario (a game I legally own) on one computer, and want to play a quick game of Magicka (another game I legally own) with friends on my laptop, I can't, because Steam doesn't allow simultaneous logins FOR ANY REASON. So essentially, my game library is now locked behind a vault wall, with an asshole running the show who will only "let" me play one title at a time. BRILLIANT!

    *Truth in advertising, I'll explain my particular beef with them, and let you decide: I have 2 sons, who until recently were minors. To manage their exposure to the world of multiplayer games, whenever they got games that were Steam-required, we attached them to MY steam-account. Now they're 16, and there's no need for me to manage their access anymore, but Steam offers no provision for me to one-time-transfer) licenses (we don't give a crap about achievements, etc) to their own Steam accounts. So now when one son wants to play 'his' copy of TF2, the other one can't play Xcom.

    I even tried to actually talk to someone in Steam, I've offered to do ANYTHING to prove that I'm their father, this is a one-time deal, anything; the response I got was a flat refusal to give me a contact name, and the assertion that "we're a flat organization, we don't have managers". Right, so Gabe Newell's right there, answering tech support calls I bet?

    I disliked Steam, but every time I see a title on the shelves that says "Steam Required" I hate them that little bit more.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      With 1 exception, all the games I bought through steam are heavily discounted compared to the physical media. So when my son wanted a game I would just buy it. It was still cheaper then if I had bought the disks.

      I do wish they would create a family server. So anyone can use a game on any computer in the home as long as some else wasn't.

      It's a hell of a lot better then the DRM that ships with disks.

      Every time I build a new machine, I love steam a little bit more.

      If you truly thought the consumer was being sc

  • by pjrc (134994) <paul@pjrc.com> on Friday March 01, 2013 @05:01PM (#43049651) Homepage Journal

    When I *really* don't like something, I vote with my dollars AND by influencing others not to spend their dollars either.

    I'm sure EA would greatly prefer if dissatisfied customers merely voted with their dollars, but kept quiet so as not to build a public awareness and cause others to do the same. Well, that's not how things work, especially in the modern times of widespread internet connectivity and online social networking.

    I personally don't play video games much. But I recently tried a few on an iPad. My first experience, Plants vs Zombies, was fun. It seems to have been designed before this in-game purchasing became a big deal. But then I tried another, and another, and yet another... and it quickly became clear they were designed to force you to make in-game purchases. One even had 3 times of in-game resources, plus 2 types of time limits, which you could pay your way around.

    Those games just aren't much fun. That's the problem. if you don't pony up real money, they're incredibly boring and repetitive... pretty much being stuck in a purgatory of inadequate resources to play the game. I tried paying on a couple. Guess what... then you've got everything you need and the game quickly becomes not very interesting either. It's a low quality experience either way.

    When you make a poor product, word gets out. When an entire industry moves in a direction that's initially profitable, but ultimately results in poor products that people don't enjoy, eventually the marketplace wises up and demand for those products declines or evaporates. That's simply how free markets work.

    Critical public commentary is simply part of that free market process. EA may not like it, but that's too bad. Sooner or later, as enough people vote with their dollars, EA will respond with better products, rather than wishing their dissatisfied customers would quietly go away.

  • by Dishwasha (125561) on Friday March 01, 2013 @05:40PM (#43050055)

    One of the main problems I have with micro-transactions is their use in competitive games. When something is purchased to give one player an advantage that another player does not have without paying that same money, that creates a imbalance that ensures only those who are more wealthy will have the edge. Sure, some of that can be solved by server configurations that disallow certain weapons, but it is less likely that those server configurations will be available. Also, wealthier people can purchase better computers that cause the game to perform better, but at least that imbalance is more subjective where-as a better weapon that somebody else doesn't have access to directly alters the maximum potential of gameplay results. Even if people vote with their dollars, many will choose to pay to gain that unfair competitive edge which may hurt the minority, but the minority still deserves just as fair a chance.

  • by sesshomaru (173381) on Friday March 01, 2013 @06:37PM (#43050629) Journal

    Wow. What a bitter, incoherent rant.

    So, let's take this apart. The ranter, Cliff Bleszinski, is not actually saying "Vote with your dollars" he's saying, "You'll take what we give you and like it." However, the rant comes across as desperate and rage filled because that's actually false bravado, he knows that his customers don't have to take what they give them and like it.

    I think a certain amount of games industry executives, people who aren't in the business because they love games as an art form, probably look at other businesses with envy. "Look at those heroin kingpins, their customers will do anything for another hit." "Look at the oil industry, it seems like they can raise prices through the roof and people keep buying." "Look a pharmaceuticals, if people don't pay their prices, well, they die." or "Look at credit cards, those earn money for the banks while the bankers are sleeping!"

    However, for whatever reason, the games industry executives are stuck in an industry that lives or dies on customer service. Ask Atari how well they did after 2600 Pac -Man made all the little children cry. [youtube.com].

    So does this mean no DRM? No DLC? No microtransactions? Why no!

    I've been dealing with DRM since games came on 5 1/4 inch floppies. DLC reminds me of paying for a disk of shareware, and then paying some more for the rest of the content. And while it isn't an electronic game, I don't think any Magic addict like myself could be unfamiliar with the concept of microtransactions.

    What it means is that you can't push it and expect to make money. However sad it makes the game honchos, they aren't heroin dealers. They can't say "the price is the price, yo" like Badger on Breaking Bad and expect people to pay it.

    If you are going to sell people a $60.00 game, it can't be the equivalent of a $5 shareware disk with DLC being necessary to complete it. That's why some companies played around with selling games as episodes at a slightly lower price... and that model didn't pan out. I think expansion packs make money, I enjoyed Yuri's Revenge but some actual effort was put into that, and Red Alert II was a fine, complete game without it.

    DRM that makes the game unplayable... makes the game unplayable. That's not hard to understand, is it? If it makes it unplayable some of the time, it makes the game unplayable some of the time. It diminishes the games quality. Don't do that if you don't want a reputation for selling unplayable junk.

    There are two kinds of games. Games built from the ground up around micro-transactions and games that are totally destroyed by shoehorning microtransactions into them. You can't take the latest iteration of Doom (by which I mean any FPS that can be loosely described as lone hero versus hordes of monsters), and make the player have to pay for every gun and demon. It won't work. It will make the game suck.

    You might not like it, but if you don't I suggest you look for work in one of those other industries I mentioned, because an industry built around pleasing customers is clearly not for you.

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