Home > 'Journalistic' Malpractice, Video Games > EA decides to go to war with Activision over most-hated publisher title

EA decides to go to war with Activision over most-hated publisher title

UPDATE: EA sends in the 100,000 RPM fans:

“To date, there is no set pricing strategy for the entire EA portfolio. And many of the proposals include free-to-play content on models similar to Madden Ultimate Team, Battlefield Heroes and Battlefield 1943,” Brown said, “None of the proposals call for charging consumers for traditionally free game demos.”

Of course, nobody was saying that you were going to charge for “traditionally free game demos”–the problem is that you were allegedly going to start offering super-duper ‘preview’ versions that would clock in at the 3-4 hour range, for $15/pop, which is well, well beyond “traditionally free game demos” in length…and price. (All of a sudden, the veracity of Pachter’s comments take on a new, more unpleasant, hue and, of course, Edge and Kotaku dutifully report this with nary a critical word.)


Thank you sir, may I have another!1

Big grain of salt, folks: this is Michael Pachter, perhaps the worst ‘analyst’ in any field in the history of the sorry profession, but this is at least allegedly sourced on something EA said, not something from Pachter’s cracked crystal ball:

“I think that the plan is to release [paid downloadable content] at $15 that has 3-4 hours of gameplay, so [it has] a very high perceived value, then [EA will] take the feedback from the community (press and players) to tweak the follow-on full game that will be released at a normal packaged price point.”

So, essentially, you get the ‘privilege’ of paying to beta (or alpha, even) test games for a megacorp like EA which, when you think about it, doesn’t sound like a very good deal for the consumer, especially when they plan to also come out with a full-priced, retail, game later on. (Here’s hoping that if EA does follow-through on this hare-brained scheme, that they discount the game accordingly for those that were stupid impatient enough to sign on to this in the first place.)

An unfortunate side-effect of this, of course, is that you’re now going to end up paying for demos as, make no mistake, there would be very little incentive on the publisher’s end to provide a free demo when they stand to make big bucks on the, uh, pre-release edition. After all, a lot less people are going to pay for it if they know a free demo is coming hot and fast down the middle, so the easiest way to solve that ‘problem’ is to deep-six demos altogether.

And wading into the putrefying swamp of unintended consequences2, is it really very difficult to believe that, going forward, EA would front-load the ‘demo/test’ version with all the best levels/content/etc., in order to bait the consumer into pre-buying the full game, and then dump the unfinished/unrefined sludge onto the back-end of the retail release? (Demos already suffer from being the movie trailers of the videogame universe: a wizard of marketing throws together a demo that only highlights the very best bits, like a trailer for a Michael Bay film comprised entirely of awesome slow-mo shots, explosions, and half-naked women…OK, that’s an entire Michael Bay film, but, in both cases, at least those are free.)

Of course, this isn’t a new scheme by any stretch: Sony already took their customers for a ride with Gran Turismo 5 Prologue and TellTale has been telling tales in episodic format, for full price, for some time now. (Albeit hiding behind the flimsy cover of episodic content and duping their fans by pretending to be their best friend for doing so.3) And, sadly, in both cases nary a peep was uttered out of anyone because, in Sony’s case, it appeared to be a one-off event and, in TellTale’s case, well, nobody outside of the adventure game community even knows they exist.

But there is one, minor, problem with this scheme: when it’s confined to the adventures of a rabbity thing and his anthropomorphic canine companion, or a one-shot situation to drive a shiny Ferrari (several years) early, nobody really notices. But when EA makes this, essentially, company policy (that every game should have some sort of DLC component) well, that’s when the backlashes and torch ‘n’ pitchforks come out–especially for EA, who is still trying to erase the stain of original gaming sin passed on to them lo those many years ago by Acclaim. (Activision has done their part to help EA out here, but it’s much too soon for EA to start treading this path again.)

Of course, Shacknews points none of this out, even in passing, but the commenters seem to, by and large, grasp how this is going to play out, so +1 for their community, -1 for their writers.

Anyway, basically, there will be loads of screaming and fuming and wailing and likening EA to the devil/Hitler/Stalin/Mao/residents of Berkeley4 and, in the end, it’ll still happen. Then we’ll get used to it and then it’ll be tossed onto the heap of things people got really excised about, then got lazy, and then…what was I saying again?

1 Because, at the end of the day, they’re going to do it anyway and, in 6 months to a year, gamers will act like none of this was ever an issue to begin with.
2 Let’s be honest: there won’t be anything unintended about this.
3 ‘Episodic’ in the sense that you buy the entire ‘season’–like, you know, a full game–but don’t get full access to the content for months…so you, essentially, float TT an interest-free loan, which works out great…for TT.
4 You’re a former resident, McFly, so don’t stroke out…completely.

  1. Knight of Gold 3100
    03/22/2010 at 19:27

    Clipped from my reply to your comment regarding my content warning:

    Its because of the language and imagery I use. By putting that warning up there I don’t have to censor myself in any way. I don’t plan on putting any dirty pics up or anything, but I can do whatever I want with the knowledge I gave fair warning to all. Blogger has NOT imposed this on me.

    Personally I’m not a fan of warning labels really, but since I’ve become a parent I’m now kinda down with some signposts to content. People can’t just be expected to be on guard for adult content with every single little thing.

    As a died-in-the-wool metalhead I’m supposed to be opposed to Parental Advisory stickers. But as it turns out I’m opposed to censorship, not a bit of warning. WalMart censors all the music. F**k ’em. Don’t shop there.

    • ECM
      03/22/2010 at 21:14

      Cool, thanks for pinging me in ‘person’ 🙂

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