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EA: '$60 games are exploitative'

EA: '$60 games are exploitative'

'$60 games are exploitative,' says EA's Free to Play boss, Ben Cousins.

Electronic Arts' Ben Cousins, general manager of Easy Studios and free to play boss, has commented that $60 games are an exploitative business model.

Chatting to Rock Paper Shotgun, Cousins said that the future of gaming will be both 'platform agnostic' and 'free...with deep multiplayer experiences'.

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

'What we do is enable everyone to play the game, and figure out if they like it. If they don't like it they can walk away and they don't lose anything.'

According to Cousins, it would make much more sense to offer players access to a game for free before asking them to pay.

Cousins' Easy Studios is currently working on a new free to play Battlefield game, BattlefieldPlay4Free.

Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

48 Comments

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mi1ez 23rd March 2011, 11:51 Quote
Are you SURE that was EA?
I bet that guy loses his job...
adam_bagpuss 23rd March 2011, 11:58 Quote
wait arent these called DEMOs which PC industry has nearly stopped now and opted for beta access on pre-order with the previous in the series blah blah blah blah.
perplekks45 23rd March 2011, 12:17 Quote
Well said. Won't happen any time soon, though.
srgtherasta 23rd March 2011, 12:17 Quote
I never thought i'd be saying this but, I'm starting to like EA after many years of hate
yakyb 23rd March 2011, 12:19 Quote
free to play just screams of micro transactions to me, i will not touch those games at all
Parge 23rd March 2011, 12:27 Quote
Oh well thats nice,

60.00 USD = 36.8429 GBP

To be honest, if its a great game that I'll get a lot of playtime from, like GTA4, Total War, Fallout 3, or BFBC2 or I'd happily pay full price, but I certainly don't want to pay full price for some badly coded film tie in.

EA have certainly bucked up their ideas. BUT they did just release Dead Space 2 with an 'online activation code' that you have to enter to play the MP - basically means that if you sell it on the next person who buys it can't play MP unless they buy a new code. Ouch.
liratheal 23rd March 2011, 12:55 Quote
I like that man.
Xir 23rd March 2011, 13:07 Quote
...I'm a single player guy.
Multiplayer is nice for the occasional bout, I like to be able to play, pause, continue when I find the time, not when my team's rushing.
eddtox 23rd March 2011, 13:36 Quote
Aren't most new releases around £40 now? (i.e more than $60)

Also, the price tag is only one facet of the exploitation. The others include restrictive DRM, concerted efforts to discourage the second-hand market, and shorter games at launch complemented by copious DLC releases, most of which are non-transferable.

So if you buy a game online at release date, and the subsequent DLC packs, you can expect to spend nearly £100, none of which you can recover by selling it on once you're done with it.

I wonder if Bit could do an article comparing the (single player) play time of older games with newer ones and come up with a £/h value score. I have a feeling that the value (to the customer, that is) has been slowly draining out of PC gaming for a while now.
Arkanrais 23rd March 2011, 13:44 Quote
I just checked on steam, and in my country, crysis 2 is selling for $69.99 US witht the publisher listed as Electronic Arts....
other similar priced titles include Homefront at $79.99, dragon age 2 at $69.99, and COD black ops at $89.99
Borderlands was also about $80 for something like 18 months after release.

This guy is compoletely right. I dont consider anything over $40US, as it's just too damn much money, and it doesnt help that I know people in the US get the same games with the same currency for a lot less most of the time.
Tsung 23rd March 2011, 14:12 Quote
Don't be fooled, free to play isn't really free to play. Im sure they are making plenty of money from micro payments (spend £X get bonus Y). I'm also sure customers who do buy themselfs an advantage could easierly end up spending more than $60.

I suspect this chap wants all games to be sold the same way as they do, thus levelling the playing field for all.
aggies11 23rd March 2011, 14:21 Quote
Games come in varying amounts of quality and value, why shouldn't there price be variable too? If two games aren't of the same value, why should they artificially have the same price? Runs afoul of economic theory I'd imagine, games are not created equal, and so are not a commodity, yet we have artificial commodity pricing.
Woodspoon 23rd March 2011, 14:42 Quote
This, from EA the company that publishes yearly game updates for £35 games that involve little more than a slight change in team strip?

What a joke.
Deadpunkdave 23rd March 2011, 15:15 Quote
You know it is possible for one organisation to contain individuals with differing viewpoints. My guess would be that the motivation for giving this interview was so that he could point at some positive responses to it in order to justify to others within EA the model that he is developing. People on forums like these are those most likely to recommend or slate a title and so are a valuable target market. Releasing statements like these tests the mood of that market.
borandi 23rd March 2011, 15:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parge
Oh well thats nice,

60.00 USD = 36.8429 GBP

US prices are quoted without tax.

So 36.8429 + VAT = £44.26 shelf price

Wait, how much was the latest COD? £55?
Phil Rhodes 23rd March 2011, 15:48 Quote
[quote]...I'm a single player guy.
Multiplayer is nice for the occasional bout, I like to be able to play, pause, continue when I find the time, not when my team's rushing.[/quote

What he said.
Tulatin 23rd March 2011, 16:06 Quote
$60 isn't really exploitation, it's more the norm.

You get to call exploitation when a developer takes the game they meant to release, cuts it up, and then makes you spend $30 after release to play the whole story, a-la Mafia 2.
crlyhair 23rd March 2011, 16:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulatin
$60 isn't really exploitation, it's more the norm.

You get to call exploitation when a developer takes the game they meant to release, cuts it up, and then makes you spend $30 after release to play the whole story, a-la Mafia 2.

Although it is the norm as of late, it would still be nice to have a price-drop.
chelseascum 23rd March 2011, 16:45 Quote
I suspect they are saying this in order to promote DLC etc, ie

A game used to cost $60.

Under the new business model it costs $40 to get a massively cut-down version, and another $40 to get DLC (much of which is available at launch, or even on the disc and just needs unlocking) to take it back up to the full game.
ssj12 23rd March 2011, 17:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulatin
$60 isn't really exploitation, it's more the norm.

You get to call exploitation when a developer takes the game they meant to release, cuts it up, and then makes you spend $30 after release to play the whole story, a-la Mafia 2.

PC titles used to be $50 not $60. The trend to sell PC games at $60 started with Activision and COD.
mucgoo 23rd March 2011, 18:00 Quote
Micro transaction "free to play games" can often cost far more than $60/£40 with the free to plays being at a fairly severe disadvantage.
Tulatin 23rd March 2011, 18:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssj12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulatin
$60 isn't really exploitation, it's more the norm.

You get to call exploitation when a developer takes the game they meant to release, cuts it up, and then makes you spend $30 after release to play the whole story, a-la Mafia 2.

PC titles used to be $50 not $60. The trend to sell PC games at $60 started with Activision and COD.

Oh no, not $10. Whatever will I do!

To another point, I feel sorry for people who wanted to get into certain MMOs that became free to play. What's that, you spent $100 buying the game and playing for 3 months of time? Well screw you!
JaredC01 23rd March 2011, 18:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulatin
Oh no, not $10. Whatever will I do!

What will you do? Apparently you will pay the even higher prices they'll have when the publishing companies realize there's still idiots out there with your mentality.

One game started a gaming-wide price raise of $10. On a used-to-be $50 game, that's a 20% increase. Next 20% increase from the current $60 will push games up to $72 (which for the record is nearing a 50% increase from the $50 cost we used to have), but I suppose you're rich enough that you can pay the extra $12 on top of the extra $10 you're already willing to throw out without much issue... While you're at it, go ahead and send $22 my way for every game I purchase since you can afford it.
Lockon Stratos 23rd March 2011, 18:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mi1ez

I bet that guy loses his job...

I too think bad things are going to happen now that hes opend his mouth. $60 for a game might be exploitation. but at the same time EA need to make money. I dont mind paying £25-30 for a game but £45+ is just way too much IMO
Sloth 23rd March 2011, 19:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaredC01
What will you do? Apparently you will pay the even higher prices they'll have when the publishing companies realize there's still idiots out there with your mentality.

One game started a gaming-wide price raise of $10. On a used-to-be $50 game, that's a 20% increase. Next 20% increase from the current $60 will push games up to $72 (which for the record is nearing a 50% increase from the $50 cost we used to have), but I suppose you're rich enough that you can pay the extra $12 on top of the extra $10 you're already willing to throw out without much issue... While you're at it, go ahead and send $22 my way for every game I purchase since you can afford it.
Oh dear, you might not to want look too hard at the world around you, lest you realize exactly how much extra you're paying for items just because you can and don't question it. Just might have to eat your words.

The plain and simple is that in a free market the value of items is roughly determined by what people will pay for it. Tulatin, along with anyone still buying games at their $60 price, obviously feels that the value of the games are still worth the cost and as such doesn't mind the increase. If the price were to raise beyond what people were willing to pay then people would stop buying them.

It always sucks when the majority places more value in something than you do, but that's life. At least these are video games and not something like an essential staple food.
Bonedoctor 23rd March 2011, 19:11 Quote
Um - isn't he just missing the poitn a bit. Software houses used to release demo's all the time which allowed us "to play the game, and figure out if they like it. If they don't like it they can walk away and they don't lose anything." This guy's either crazy for publicity or living the the 80s. Give us some demos and everyone will be happy.
Lockon Stratos 23rd March 2011, 19:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonedoctor
Um - isn't he just missing the poitn a bit. Software houses used to release demo's all the time which allowed us "to play the game, and figure out if they like it. If they don't like it they can walk away and they don't lose anything." This guy's either crazy for publicity or living the the 80s. Give us some demos and everyone will be happy.

too true...with recent EA games you need to PRE-ORDER the game before they allowed you access to the demo.
The_Beast 23rd March 2011, 19:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parge
To be honest, if its a great game that I'll get a lot of playtime from, like GTA4, Total War, Fallout 3, or BFBC2 or I'd happily pay full price, but I certainly don't want to pay full price for some badly coded film tie in.

EA have certainly bucked up their ideas. BUT they did just release Dead Space 2 with an 'online activation code' that you have to enter to play the MP - basically means that if you sell it on the next person who buys it can't play MP unless they buy a new code. Ouch.


I agree, I don't mind paying $60 for a game I'll stick 60+ hours into. Fallout 3 had at least 130 hours put into it, BFBC2 is 350+ and Fallout NV 30+


If it was just a single player that I could only play for 2-3 hours, or the multiplayer sucked.... and I payed $60, then I'd be pissed
outlawaol 23rd March 2011, 19:41 Quote
The $60 price really dosnt bother me much, mainly because I rarely buy games when they first come out (this may change for BF3). So they can suck all the cash they want from the initial first buyers all they want (because they know you will pay it to play it RIGHT NOW). When a game is really worth $60 then it feels like a decent price to pay, however if you get a game that is subpar then $60 feels like a total theft. Perhaps its just the crap load of subpar games that are priced at $60 that people feel like is a rip because the game itself sucks. Demos are more important than the industry gives them credit for, because really its a try before you buy thing. I played many a demos and I was grateful that the company released them - cause some where ok, some sucked badly, and some where downright awesome (hence a purchase later). Im really glad that there was a Crysis 2 multi demo - I may actually wait to buy it because it didnt feel like it 'popped' out at me - it was good, but it didnt feel great. If your really annoyed with the $60 price tag then wait to buy and show them you put your money where your mouth is and stfu.
sausages 23rd March 2011, 21:32 Quote
I'd rather pay $60 and get a big solid game like the good ole days. Rather than paying $40 and getting some crap that needs an expansion and a dozen DLC's to become a half decent game.
leveller 23rd March 2011, 22:46 Quote
The more hate Activision gets, the easier it is for EA to build relationships with gamers.
eddtox 23rd March 2011, 23:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by sausages
I'd rather pay $60 and get a big solid game like the good ole days. Rather than paying $40 and getting some crap that needs an expansion and a dozen DLC's to become a half decent game.

As things stand you are paying $60 + DLC, for a 20h pile of crap :)
That is exploitation.
Cthippo 23rd March 2011, 23:54 Quote
Also, another industry talking head touting the joys of multi-platform gaming. The day is going to come when there is no point in buying a GTX-OVER 9000+XWZN!! because there will be no games that take full advantage of the hardware.
binary101 24th March 2011, 00:49 Quote
You have to give EA credit for give Free to Play model a go and sticking to them not like other companies, Im looking at you THQ, even tho the games they make uses old game engines, BF play4free uses the old Bf2 engine and nfs world uses the world from nfs most wanted they non the less extend the life of these engines while not charing the players its a good model once the engine gets old tweak a existing game into a f2pmmo to give new life to it.
Tulatin 24th March 2011, 01:33 Quote
Actually, I rarely buy games - even more rarely if they're new. Generally speaking, I'll only ever buy the collector's edition of things well after it's come out. Point in case, Fallout 3 in it's lovely little lunchbox cost me $35.

I don't make a huge stink out of the $10 increase in the base price, because it's irrelevant. I'm fairly sure that the bulk of gamers gladly pay the gate price, and then they start buying the addons. Take a look at many of today's AAA titles. How much did you have to spend for the full story? How many addons did you buy? Publishers are enjoying that "20%" increase because it's just the icing on the cake, when they can bilk people for $10-50 in additional crap after the game has come out.

True, the idea of incremental expansions is not a new one within the realm of the PC, but time was that a hugely successful game would have 1-2 expansions with a reasonable cost, not 10 for a seeming pittance.

So you can call me an idiot if you want for mocking people's reaction to a prince increase, but it's like having your arm sliced off, and crying over a bit of blood on the rug.
Gradius 24th March 2011, 03:56 Quote
$60 is a lot if you get bored in under a day.
Snaek 24th March 2011, 06:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gradius
$60 is a lot if you get bored in under a day.

On the other hand, microtransactions will cost you a lot more if you sink enough time into the game.
modfx 24th March 2011, 12:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snaek
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gradius
$60 is a lot if you get bored in under a day.

On the other hand, microtransactions will cost you a lot more if you sink enough time into the game.

Thing is, you only sink time into a game if It's worth playin...unless your a masochist
Take league of legends for example.
Xir 24th March 2011, 13:09 Quote
Wait a year or two and buy it for a tenner, thats what I say.
Under a fiver I don't even need a demo anymore, I buy blind.
sWW 24th March 2011, 13:27 Quote
For me £20-£30 is what I am willing to pay for an AAA newly released game. I'm glad I don't play console games because they are truly getting ripped off.
tad2008 24th March 2011, 14:49 Quote
There are so few truly original games that really grab me these days, Metal Gear Solid did back on the original playstation along with Bioshock, Fallout 3 and Mass Effect 1 & 2. Guildwars has been my staple MMO game for the past 4 years with no subscription.

I rarely buy a game new and often wait for it to hit the bargain sections in Game or on Steam.
wiggles 28th March 2011, 12:21 Quote
The idea that a game can't be worth $60 is farcical
eddtox 28th March 2011, 14:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wiggles
The idea that a game can be worth $60 is farcical

FIXED ;)

I would like to point out that I think "Free"2Play and subscription-based games are just as exploitative.
yourebuying 13th July 2011, 06:04 Quote
Anyone who thinks that this man is honestly talking about improving things for consumers is an ignorant fool.

I don't know what it is about the United States of the last 10 years, but it seems like if politicians or corporate figures want the public to believe something, all they have to do is characterize the principal antagonist to the thing they're promoting as the thing they're actually promoting!

Basically they've got the GALL to tell you that paying 60 dollars for a fully developed game is exploitative? And they try to explain this by trying to promote a FREE TO PLAY model which gives you a stripped down game and puts you on the hook to buy the rest of the game at a ridiculously inflated cost?

This is a variation of a very old fashioned swindle: "I'll take your rusty old quarter for a SHINY NEW PENNY!"

Basically in accepting the free to play model, collectively as gamers you're saying that you're willing to pay up the ass for digital content that you would've otherwise gotten for a FAR lower price if you paid in one lump sum for a whole game.

What's disturbing about this trend is the fact that there are so many idiots out there who are okay with it.

They're telling you that forcing them to make a quality game and charge a lump sum for it is somehow more exploitative to the end user than it is for them to slack off and give you a shitty half-a-game and then say: "Well if you want to play the rest of it, you've got to cough up the money".

Or: "If you want to be competitive with the rest of the people who have overpaid for their fancy microtransaction DLC, you've gotta cough up".

Wake up people, you're being set up for fleecing like a bunch of stupid sheep.

Demand quality and content and stop letting developers **** with consumer with this carrot and stick marketing ploy.
yourebuying 13th July 2011, 06:15 Quote
My girlfriend works in software development, specifically she has her own online RPG and she sells custom digital content for her game, and she balks at the idea that this guy is trying to say that paying a lump sum for a whole game is "exploitative".

She said herself, "The market analytics have shown that people who pay incrementally will be inclined to pay MORE than what they'd inevitably pay for a standalone product, what most free to play games do is cleverly place one consumer's wallet in direct competition with the wallets of every other player".

In other words, this guy is lying.

Now in the context of an online RPG, I personally don't care if you can buy custom items, you're already paying a subscription for the game, and if that isn't exploitative enough I don't know what is.

However what he's advocating will herald the absolute demise of quality gaming, especially on the PC.

Say goodbye to games designed with balance and playability, now it's all about creating petty competition and an atmosphere of peer pressure to get the latest DLC. Which of course will inevitably result in paying FAR more than sixty dollars for a well made product.

This guy is taking you all for a ride, and unfortunately the late entrants into the gaming arena (esp people born on or after 1990) seem to be oblivious to how badly they're getting shafted, quite honestly because they've never known any better.

I don't mind paying for digital content for online games, although just remember free to play, really means "play to win".

I absolutely ABHOR the idea that I will not be able to pay good money for a well made product because "well made" products are not more financially expedient for a company versus basically taking advantage of ignorant morons.

The gaming industry is falling apart, and I just really want to see these DLC, free to play, "sucker people out of money for **** product" - proponents all run over with a truck.

Pretty soon there will be no refuge whatsoever from this kind of marketing, and that's a very bad thing for consumers.
leveller 13th July 2011, 09:45 Quote
The F2P model works. Someone who can't afford $60 games can join in, play the games and make friends etc etc. As with all things like drink, drugs, gambling, food, clothes, etc, you'll get people that get carried away/addicted and spend too much. But mostly people will pay whatever they can afford.

Linking F2P accounts with micro-transactions is the industries idea for combatting piracy and 2nd hand sales.

added:

also F2P subsidises the low paid, students, disadvantaged etc etc - that is a good thing, no?

last add:

I forgot this thread was about EA - **** EA tbfh.
Elton 13th July 2011, 10:13 Quote
Problem with F2P games though is that they tend to, well be very bare bones for the newbies. Of course there are exceptions, but it essentially forces players to buy something at one point. Regardless of what the intentions are, they will get at least some cash.

MY problem with F2P games is that single player experiences are dying like the plauge.

That and Red Dead Redemption STILL has not (and never will) come to the PC. :(
leveller 13th July 2011, 10:31 Quote
LA Noire is coming to PC. I would put money on Red Dead coming to PC as well sometime soon. I would say the delay is because of temporary exclusivity like with Limbo, although I'm stringing together rumours and probably doing a 2+2 = 22 ;)
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