EA Boss Defends Online Passes

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EA Boss Defends Online Passes

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EA CEO John Riccitiello defended his company's new Online Pass initiative, saying that these days development work wasn't finished "when a game ships."

Last month, EA unveiled its new Online Pass plan, which was essentially EA Sports' version of the Project Ten Dollar initiative: Gamers who buy used copies of the EA Sports titles must pay $10 for a pass to play multiplayer online - the same pass comes in new copies of the game, free.

Most people assumed that, like Project Ten Dollar, this initiative was designed to either curb used sales or to allow EA to actually see some money for transactions. EA responded that the goal of the Online Pass was to offer more value and content for online users, not to curb the used market - a statement which had pretty much everyone reading coughing into their fists. Speaking with IndustryGamers, Riccitiello emphasized his support for the system when asked whether or not he thought that comment was "disingenuous."

Ten years ago, five years ago, we'd gold master a game, the dev team would move on to something else and no one was there. Today, what happens with a game is a team is there where you [use data] to improve it, provide great post-release content, new services like we did with FIFA and Madden recently with Ultimate Team. I mean the project is only half done when we ship it. It keeps going. We're selling services ... We're going to prove that what we say is not disingenuous.

That said, Riccitiello admitted he understood why people were skeptical of anything that came out of the mouth of publishers - that some gamers were "people that carry a cynicism about publishers in general, and they're always going to."

When asked what he'd tell a gamer who bought the latest Madden or FIFA used only to find that he had to pay an extra $10 to play online, Riccitiello answered: "Well, we thank you for your business. You didn't used to be a customer of ours, and now you are. We're going to prove to you that that ten dollars is exceptionally well spent."

If you have time, the whole interview is well worth a read, covering multiple topics like what's coming at E3 and the highly-publicized Activision/Bungie team-up. Riccitiello certainly sounds more candid and gamer-ish than certain other CEOs I could name, but then again that's part of his job, isn't it?

Regarding the Online Pass thing, though ... I have to say that I think he's both right and wrong. On the one hand, yes, it's true that the advent of DLC means that developers can continue supporting games after release. There does come a point during development where literally no new content can be added, and at that point the developers either move on, get fired, or sit around doing nothing - why not put them to work? And supporting a game after its launch is work that they deserve to be paid for.

So in that regard, Riccitiello is absolutely correct. On the other hand - come on, dude. Everybody and their dog knows that even if the Online Pass wasn't designed specifically to curtail the used game market, that's certainly going to be an ancillary effect of the whole thing. Just be straight and say "Yeah, we'd like to see some money off of used game sales, that'd be nice," and people would buy it a whole lot easier.

(Via GamePolitics)

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Why can't somebody smack them with a big lawsuit and a spiked sign that says "FIRST SALE DOCTRINE" already?

I Believe Lying with a straight face is a job requirement you need to have to be a CEO nowadays.

He makes some valid points, but you can't help feeling that he's missing the part where he likes to fill his swimming pool with 10 dollar bills and go for a few lengths.

Asehujiko:
Why can't somebody smack them with a big lawsuit and a spiked sign that says "FIRST SALE DOCTRINE" already?

They aren't doing anything to prevent the resale of software, considering that the online multiplayer (and DLC) are services they offer, not anything on the disc. They're choosing to offer it to new buyers for free, but they could just as easily not offer it to anyone at all, or offer it for a price.

As long as they make this clear on the packaging - so someone can see it before opening/purchasing it - they're on pretty firm ground legally speaking. Ethically speaking, that's up to you to decide.

I really don't care if it's an attack on the used sales market. They're entirely entitled to try and defend their own profits, and I think it's better than letting retail chains make more money just through reselling games that they put no effort in to.

Also, the margin of profit they make on a resale is ridiculous. They'll give you maybe a tenner trade in, then post it up as "preowned" for £25 quid. So unscrupulous business ethics should be met with unscrupulous business ethics.

John Funk:

EA CEO John Riccitiello defended his company's new Online Pass initiative, saying that these days development work wasn't finished "when a game ships."

Some companies do it without charging you money though. Successful companies. Who make original games.

Shhhhhhhhhhh. Shut up, John. We're all fixated on Kotick and Ubi's DRM. Don't fuck it know, when we kind of forgot about EA and you!.

If the new copies of the game (i.e. those with the passes) are full price then this is an incredible slap in the face for the gamer.

Seeing as how this is an attempt to curb used sales a happy medium should be struck: EA gets to use its online pass rule, but the cost of a new game will come down. This would satisfy more people than the current system does.

Why can't they just do what they did with Dragon Age and have the free DLC with new copies? This whole thing is far too restricting for consumers.

FargoDog:
Why can't they just do what they did with Dragon Age and have the free DLC with new copies? This whole thing is far too restricting for consumers.

xHipaboo420x:
If the new copies of the game (i.e. those with the passes) are full price then this is an incredible slap in the face for the gamer.

Seeing as how this is an attempt to curb used sales a happy medium should be struck: EA gets to use its online pass rule, but the cost of a new game will come down. This would satisfy more people than the current system does.

Er, you guys are misunderstanding it. It's exactly like the Dragon Age thing: Free for new copies, you only have to pay if you buy it used.

John Funk:

FargoDog:
Why can't they just do what they did with Dragon Age and have the free DLC with new copies? This whole thing is far too restricting for consumers.

xHipaboo420x:
If the new copies of the game (i.e. those with the passes) are full price then this is an incredible slap in the face for the gamer.

Seeing as how this is an attempt to curb used sales a happy medium should be struck: EA gets to use its online pass rule, but the cost of a new game will come down. This would satisfy more people than the current system does.

Er, you guys are misunderstanding it. It's exactly like the Dragon Age thing: Free for new copies, you only have to pay if you buy it used.

No, I get it. But with the Dragon Age DLC you actually got something extra for buying the new copy. With this they're restricting online, which nowadays is around 50 percent or more of the game for a lot of people.

The Dragon Age DLC was just an extra companion, a little 'Thanks for buying it new!' compliment if you will. Restricting online when its so crucial to a fair amount of players seems unfair. There was more of a consumer benefit with the DLC scheme.

John Funk:

Er, you guys are misunderstanding it. It's exactly like the Dragon Age thing: Free for new copies, you only have to pay if you buy it used.

What I was saying was that the cost of buying a used game will rise to that of a new game. With this option gone, gamers will have no choice but to buy new, so it would make sense to use a bit of empathy and charge a little less (particularly if they're convinced this plan will work).

Captain Pancake:
I really don't care if it's an attack on the used sales market. They're entirely entitled to try and defend their own profits, and I think it's better than letting retail chains make more money just through reselling games that they put no effort in to.

Also, the margin of profit they make on a resale is ridiculous. They'll give you maybe a tenner trade in, then post it up as "preowned" for £25 quid. So unscrupulous business ethics should be met with unscrupulous business ethics.

Defend their profits

Uhm... The logic is that someone is attacking it through used game sales. The used game market is somewhere that they'd love to get in but I don't think the $10 dollar deal is necessarily the right way. There's quite a few things that this ignores, namely the very fact that EA shuts down their own servers, killing this part of their profits and forcing the consumer to upgrade. Since US copyright law is such BS right now with reverse engineering, no one can do anything but go with their plans. So much for profits...

Retail chains

I'm not familiar with ones in the UK, but it seems that this is more about the economics than wrongdoing. Rather than go into all of the economic parts, it's probably safe to say that either A) the government taxes games severly or B) more demand = higher prices

I'm to believe, as there are less gamers in the UK than say the US, the price on gaming is higher. Especially when you get into shipping and handling to the UK.

If there were a national chain, you would probably see more uniform prices.
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In response to "unscrupulous business ethics" I have to say that won't do much but screw the customer. Just as Ubisoft's online DRM strategy killed any talk about Assassin's Creed, I feel that the entire "fire with fire" argument destroys any discussion. You don't compromise your ethics to become "more like the enemy". You should hold yourself to a better standard which I doubt that EA is doing.

The pricing to pay for online IS BS though. If I bought a game, it should all be available to me from the beginning, whether I bought first or third party. Really, if they wanted to get a few extra dollars, then make some exclusives per game, not limit your service arbitrarily for the sake of a buck or two.

Gindil:

Retail chains

I'm not familiar with ones in the UK, but it seems that this is more about the economics than wrongdoing. Rather than go into all of the economic parts, it's probably safe to say that either A) the government taxes games severly or B) more demand = higher prices

I'm to believe, as there are less gamers in the UK than say the US, the price on gaming is higher. Especially when you get into shipping and handling to the UK.

If there were a national chain, you would probably see more uniform prices.

There is a national chain. Two, in fact, owned by the same company: GAME and GameStation. Oh, and HMV, but they still specialise in music and don't do trade-ins. As for the price of gaming... £40 = $58.33 according to Google. However, there is a bit of tradition of prices falling fairly rapidly. Although that's mainly on websites.

Here's a crazy idea, ship future games with DLC available,(not a damn feature that's a basic part of the game, like multiplayer), but make it FREE to download for say, one month after the release date.

That rewards the people who not only buy new, but also those who buy in that all important first month window, where they're likely paying full price too. It rewards the avid fans, whereas people who buy second hand, or pick up the game for $10 a year later have the option of buying the DLC if they want it.

The main problem with the current plan is they're not adding DLC, they're removing a vital area of the game and expecting people to pay up after buying it.

If you want happy customers, you don't give them three quarters of the game in a box that looks like the full game, then try to sell them the missing bit. You offer them a full game and sell them more because it's that good.

If you can't make games good enough to make people want to buy more, then ... well, leave the games industry.

Oh and that smile of his is about as convincing as Gordon Brown's (ex UK leader).

They will try and worm ouyt of anything these days, although, the one thing I admit with what he says there...development dosnt, and shouldnt end after release

They will try and worm ouyt of anything these days, although, the one thing I admit with what he says there...development dosnt, and shouldnt end after release

I fully support EA with this move, though maybe it's because I generally see it as "CD-Keys for consoles", which I'm in full support of. Anything that will hurt evil companies like "Computer Exchange" is alright by me.

John Funk:

EA CEO John Riccitiello defended his company's new Online Pass initiative, saying that these days development work wasn't finished "when a game ships."

That's true, but how is that our fault?

Gindil:
[snip]

I see your argument. However, with used game sales, when a preowned game is sold, the publisher of the game isn't getting a share of that profits, the retailer is. This is essentially watering down the value of each copy of a game they sell to retailers. With this ten dollar project, however, they're assuring that, if the gamer wants full access to content, then they'll have to pay directly to the publisher, assuring that on each resell of a used game they're at least turning some kind of profit. Sure, it ultimately means we lose out, but we need to remember that these companies are only looking out for themselves.

Why are you charging $10 for it, while still giving it free to customers? They are shipping what has been shipped in the past, using a sytem (in this case since it's for online multiplayer) which is reasonable for post-gold production but, since this is part of the game, not DLC, as shown by the fact that the game comes with it, why charge for it? The only possible purpose is to cut down or charge for used sales.

IT is a blatent lie but hey, Project Ten dollars was divine for me. Free content and some good quality ones, referring to Dragon Age:Origins of course, Mass Effect 2 totally SUCKED in that regard.

But I am still a bit skeptical about disabling an entire Multiplayer section because we know how EA is fond of shutting down servers of recent football or whatever games.

Hey, guess what EA? Your DLC is just as stupid and useless as your Online Pass and Project Ten Dollar. So do us all a favor...go ahead and move on to your next game each time one of your other ones goes gold. Your post-release content is just god-awful.

Also, is it wrong that that picture makes me want to punch that guy square in the nose?

you know how you could get games developed on time before release dates?

Give them more fucking time to finish the game.

Hmmm, only in a world where that Online Pass gives you FREE access to the DLC that comes post release could I support it. Otherwise its just like...I'm paying 10 bucks to play online...plus extra ridiculous sums when it comes to DLC. I absolutely hate microtransactions. Huge ripoff

Bullshit just tell us the truth. Also if I buy the game new do I get every single piece of DLC free as far as I know that's a no. 10 bucks for just multiplayer? Sounds like Burnout Paradise's Party Pack

He is not entirely correct, game have required support for years, they didnt just put it out then shut down the project, which is why patches occurred.

If they actually do something with the game, adding content instead of just patching errors or balancing gameplay then its justified, but without that then they are just looking for an excuse to charge more.

Bottom line, unless they add content, its a ripoff
I have a feeling they will instead hold content back at release and pretend they are adding it.

Well...

*looks at all the free DLC for Bad Company 2 and Mass Effect 2*

That's a good bit of free stuff from the VIP Pass and Cerberus Network...

I'm cool with this.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that, assuming their "free pass" requires registration (otherwise the free pass could just be sent along with the used game) its a great way to build a database of customer contact information.

Edit: forgot about the console thing, the part where they virtually own your console and can lock things to it.

Looks like DLC is just another money sink
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downloadable_content
Strange, I hadnt run into any DLC personally, I must be way behind in my gaming

EA is a blood sucking whore... dumb-ass idea

It'd definitely be easier to swallow if they just came out and said they wanted a slice of the used game market's pie. Having said that, though the following analogy is imperfect because it's digital content we're dealing with, I think it's reasonable for there to be perks to buying say, a new car that you wouldn't get if you bought used. And if the manufacturer wanted to make those perks available to those who bought used, for a fee, fair enough.

On the other hand, when that 'perk' is a main part of the product's functionality, like multiplayer, that's kind of bullshit. To stick the above analogy, the manufacturer can't come and rip the engines out of used cars, and require those who buy used to pay them to get the engine back.

Now is a good time to get into EA games if you don't play online. Usually the previous year's Madden sells for about $3 when the new one comes out. Now, I doubt it'll be more than $1 thanks to their online pass bullshit.

If EA wants to charge for things they sell online, like their Ultimate Team option (whatever that is), that's cool, but don't charge gamers to play online. They pay the ISPs to be online, if they have a 360 they have to pay for XBL, and now if you buy used, you have to pay another $10. In the end, they might see some profit from Sony and Nintendo users since they don't have to pay, but their profits from the 360 will drop. I guarantee it.

I agree with him. Not a fan of preowned games, particulary when they're usually only five euro less.

They take up too much shelf room too in stores.

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