Guy named Chip justifies EA charging for cheats

Well, once upon a time, online play was considered a “freebie”, but I don’t hear many people complaining about XBox Live anymore, because people feel that they are getting reasonable value for their money.

One take on the whole “EA charges for cheats/unlockables” is that by monetizing unlockables, they might actually be induced to provide real value in their unlockables (and provide unlockables in games that didn’t previously have any). The question is whether they would do this to the detriment of the unpaid content (the base game). Given EA’s history, the answer is probably “hell yes”, but I’m willing to wait until they actually cross the line before getting pissed off - it could end up being a net positive, at least in some bizarro universe where EA isn’t evil incarnate.

EA has never released an overpriced game with insufficient content. Nope, never. And certainly not one with massive amounts of bugs that never actually get fixed despite release time promises. And they would never charge the price of a full game for what amounts to a medium sized expansion pack that retains most of the bugs and flaws of the first game, and then on top of the full price the consumer pays they put ads in the game. Stuff like this will never happen.

Why are you having trouble being upset with this trend? Just because it hasn’t happened in a fully egregious way yet? Market trends go as far as consumers are willing to let them go. If consumers are given a clear signal of the direction a company is going and they voice no concern, the company will go there. If EA gets the impression that they can nickel and dime us, they will do so. I don’t see the point of not being concerned now. After all, what good will it do to be concerned after it’s too late?

When it comes down to it they are taking thing that used to be free and charging for them. They are doing it now with little stuff not everyone will care much about. If that goes well I have little doubt they will do it for larger things. Do you not believe that they will attempt things like releasing a racing game with three lame tracks and having micro payments for the decent tracks? The company’s goal is not to keep you entertained; it’s to make as much cash in the shortest possible time. To think they won’t try to move in this direction is just incredibly naïve.

This is dispicable shit. EA (amongst others) already lock up their games because the well worn Skinnerian unlock system is a no-brainer, and an easy crutch to lean on if the core game is actually shite.

I really don’t like to have to unlock things in most games (those which are using the unlockables as a tacked-on system, that is… in Metroid, the “unlocking” aspect is a central mechanic so it’s not such a big deal). I like to be able to just use a cheat to unlock what I’ve already bought.

To actually have the gall to (optionally) charge for unlocking (or for a cheat to unlock)… it’s like the turd on the shit-pudding.

It just sounds like a bunch of businessmen jumped into a sound-proofed room together, locked the doors, and didn’t let any pesky designers in until they could group-think some feeble legitimizing reasoning for sucking EVERY COCK IN THE UNIVERSE.

Unlockables are supposed to be something that adds to the enjoyment and replayability of the game. Something to make it worth the full price you paid. Unlockables sort of started as a way to give you something cheap to make (unlike actual content which is expensive) to extend the life of the game so it would be worth the $50 in the first place. The unlockables were in there so we would overlook that fact that the whole game is only eight hours long. This is what makes charging for unlockables even more offensive.

“Hey you know how we put in these bits to compensate for the fact that our product contains less than it did before, well, we’re now charging for those bits.”.

The -$60 on my credit statement says it ain’t “unpaid” content.

Do you even own any titles that they are doing this with?

You dont seem to get the fact that they are removing features that are in the game during development and that remain available in the same exact game on other platforms, explicitly so they can charge for them.

I dont mind the unlockable thing, but I dont like tiger woods and the unlocks for the godfather are actually not available in the other versions (though they are NOT unlockable via player skill either, you must buy them or go without the top tier of guns)

I have a theory on this. We have about 4 million XBL subs as of October, but supposedly MS is closing in on 10 million 360s sold as of the end of this year. Since at least 2 million of those subs were reported as of July 2005, that means that XBL uptake on the 360 is certainly less than 50%. It appears that the majority of its install base is not, in fact, doing multiplayer.

Meanwhile, Sony and Nintendo are offering up free multi, so I don’t think we’re actually trending towards a pay structure. I don’t doubt that free access is being used as a launch enticement, but it’s still a real thing, with no unsettling semantic wiggle room. Also, you’ll be able to surf the 'Net from those consoles, also at no additional cost beyond your ISP’s monthly bill.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see some discounts on XBL in the next few months. Otherwise, when these units are compared three ways, it becomes obvious that multiplayer on the 360 is a hidden cost that boosts the price tag by 12.5%. Say all you want about how it’s only $4 a month, but free is free.

On a side note, I discovered that a “download” can actually somehow refer to a file transfer that is never completed. Don’t ask me how that works. But when you hear that such and such service has had X number of downloads, keep in mind that it’s more an indicator of general activity, more than particular interest. I cancel XBL demo downloads on occasion, but it’s still counted as a “download” at the end of the day.

Well, here’s where I draw the line:

OK by me:

  • Charging for unlockables (ala Godfather guns) that aren’t available on other systems
  • Charging for unlockables that are available on other systems as long as the other systems don’t have free unlock codes

Not OK:

  • Removing unlock codes for the 360 version, but have them still available on other systems (ala the Godfather “money” cheat).
  • Having content unlockable (by feats) on other systems, but only available for pay on the 360.

So, you are right, they’ve already crossed the line with the godfather money cheat and are a bunch of scumbags. But I’m not opposed to charging for unlockables in general, as long as it’s isn’t just another name for “gouge the 360 owners only”.

I pissed me off greatly in The Godfather game when I went up to a guy I saw on the street to buy a weapon and it took me to the Blade to pay for the unlock. not only that, it’s just to unlock it, you still have to pay for it in game.

I mean, ok, offering paid downloads is fine because I can choose to download them or not. Even advertising on LIVE is fine. But to make some content that’s already in the game, standing around, pimping out its content, totally breaking immersion in the game world?

That’s over the line, Smokey. Over the LINE! Mark it a zero, dude.

This sounds like a worse scenario than what’s being reported. I understood that unlocks could still be manually achieved at no additional cost, but it sounds like, from your experience, that paying is unavoidable.

It’s not a cheat code, but an unlock you pay for.

Basically, in The Godfather game, you’re roaming around the city and you see these guys in alleyways and such with a dollar sign over their head (also marked in various ways on the map). So you go up to them and they offer to seel you a gun, or more ammo for a gun you own, or an upgrade to a gun. Price vary, of course. But some of these guys, who look just like the others, give their little “You need a bit more firepower?” speech and then the Marketplace blade opens offering a gun to unlock in the game.

I got fooled twice, once after travelling quite a bit off street and searching for where the guy was standing. When he offered me the marketplace download, I said “Fuck this” and stopped buying weapons in game. It was too aggravating.

Edit: Imagine in Oblivion if you went up to a normal looking store and the vendor had a cool, expensive sword for you. But it opened the blade and asked you for money. I don’t know about you, but I find that highly annoying and immersion breaking.

Anyway, shouldn’t this extra content be included with the 360 games anyway, what with the $10 (or more) price difference?

That sounds pretty sleazy, frankly.

Yeah, this isn’t acceptable. Charging for cheats is one thing (and I think is OK). Charging for actual content or gameplay, which isn’t part of an expansion, is deplorable. If they do this without informing the customer before they purchase the game, I’d consider it unethical.

Is there a watchdog site somewhere which lists specifically what EA is charging for, for which games, if EA isn’t reporting this information themselves?

Wow, I feel absolutely the opposite. Paying to cheat or unlock is deplorable, paying for actual content is fine.

You really don’t think they should be able to charge for extra courses in links, deathmatch levels in a FPS, or dungeons in a RPG? I’m not saying these things are necessarily worth the money, but you think it’s inherently evil to charge for them? Why is $20 OK for 10 hours of gameplay if it’s labelled an expansion pack but $2 for 1 hour of gameplay not?

The problem there is how they decide to define “extra”. If a racing game contains a dozen tracks, and then they release “racing game 2” with three tracks and nine “extra” tracks you can pay to download I would dispute their definition of “extra”.

Yes, they’re already doing that with some racing game, but that’s just a value proposition. I would never pay $2 for that oblivion horse armor, but sure, they absolutely have the right to charge for it. If the value isn’t there, I just won’t buy it. If enough people don’t pony up (sorry) for the horse armor, they’ll adjust their pricing until it fits the market. If they charged for a teleport cheat on the other hand, that would upset me.

This came up in the other thread, but what we’re all really afraid of is that the mob tends toward being really, really, really stupid. Maybe the market will accept microtransactional $2 pimp hats and $10 laser guns and suddenly our games cost $150 instead of $50. If that happens, so be it. I’ll start playing tennis.

No, I’m saying paying for cheats is fine. Paying for unlocks of content is deplorable. Paying for actual content is fine.

You really don’t think they should be able to charge for extra courses in links, deathmatch levels in a FPS, or dungeons in a RPG? I’m not saying these things are necessarily worth the money, but you think it’s inherently evil to charge for them? Why is $20 OK for 10 hours of gameplay if it’s labelled an expansion pack but $2 for 1 hour of gameplay not?

If those extra courses, deathmatch levels and dungeons are already installed/on the disc/part of the core game I’m playing, I think that’s total bullshit, because that’s unlocking content you already possess.

If they are expansions or offered as microtransactions, those are fine.

I laughed.