February 22, 2012 in Games
Like most people with a console who enjoy a good game, I have been mildly excited about Mass Effect 3. Mass Effect 1 and 2 both had engrossing stories that were brilliant to play, harkening back to the day when games were made for content. This game is being created by BioWare, which have brought us games like Dragon Age, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Baulder’s Gate, etc., and being marketed by EA. EA, as we all know, is a major marketing firm that pushes games hard, and doesn’t give a shit about the industry (mainly because they consider themselves the industry). And, with over $3.8 Billion in revenue reported on physical sales for the end of the fiscal year in March of 2011, why should they? More importantly, with $3.8 billion in revenue on physical media, and over $1 Billion in digital revenue reported for 2011, why should they give a shit about the consumer? 1 They have us in a bind. They know we will buy their games, no matter how outrageous they make acquiring all the content.
On Feb 20th, a new DLC arrived in the XBL store. It was for a pack called From Ashes, and frankly, I’d warn for spoilers, but I don’t think anything that is DLC could ever be a spoiler, especially when it’s planned for release on day one. EA and BioWare are providing something that is incredible in the Mass Effect universe. They are providing a Prothean as a downloadable part of your team. Anyone who played Mass Effect is freaking out. Considering the entire plot has revolved around Reapers and Protheans, this is a big fucking deal. A big. Fucking. Deal. Obviously Protheans are still alive and kicking, and will be an integral part of the story in a new way if you can get one on your team. Now, this isn’t the big deal. The big deal is them providing this only as DLC. It’s free with the N7 Collector’s Edition (which is $20 more than the regular), and available for $10 (I believe) on day one as DLC.
What the fuck. I understand providing free DLC that could be integral to storyline as an incentive to purchase the game new, which they’ve done in the past for Dragon Age, etc., but to provide an integral piece of the storyline, which was created during regular development time mind you, at a price like $10 is absurd. If I’m paying top dollar for a game already, I want all the fucking content it has been made to have. Obviously if this DLC was created during planning, it’s a part of the storyline and can give insane insight into the world and the lore. As a nerd, of course I fucking want to know about the Protheans straight from the Protheans themselves! I want to fight side by side with the Protheans against the Reavers, because how fucking angry are the Protheans at the Reavers? How fucking sick would that be? Come on. I know you agree. But to have this available only to people that are willing to pay $70-$80 for a game is stupid.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand business and I understand the market. I understand that it’s an obvious move for EA to provide this content as DLC right off the bat for a high price. I understand that this is the natural progression of the gaming market, and DLC is totally normal. I’m alright with DLC, even! It’s just the fact that this isn’t after-launch content. This is pre-launch content, already prepared to be assimilated into the game from day 1. Already prepared, already cooked, all ready to serve to the public, but no. To provide this from the beginning, not for free as an incentive to buy new, is absolutely absurd. To me, this is providing a frame for a bed, and instead of the mattress it promised you, it’s a flimsy top to a futon. But, you can buy the proper mattress that fits this bed perfectly from the company that sold you the bed. For an amount more. Notice, I’ve bolded that bit. When you buy a videogame, you are taking the developer’s word that this is the best product they can offer to you. You accept that there may be bugs, and there may be some extra quests on the side as DLC, but you expect the integral story experience. You expect to pay for this product, and receive it as the developers intended, in whole. Now, if they’re providing launch day DLC, it’s not the whole game that the developers intended you to play, especially if it’s coming for free with the N7 Collector’s Edition.
They worked on this DLC in conjunction with developing the full game, and we the consumer, who are paying top dollar for a completed work, should be entitled to receive it. We aren’t sold movies where integral scenes are sold at an extra price. We aren’t sold books where a full storyline is available for $10 extra. We as consumers should demand a certain level of product, and currently, I can’t say EA is providing the product that I want. Between the Origin fiasco, and now this, I cannot provide EA with my money any longer. I will not be purchasing Mass Effect 3. I might purchase it used, but even that is something I might not do because I don’t feel I should support this company in any way. I urge you to think about not purchasing it either. If we can make a stand with the one thing that will make them hear us, our wallets, then we might even affect other companies that do similar things (like Capcom and its contant releases of rehashed fighting titles i.e. Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, and so on). We as consumers have more power than we give ourselves credit. If we could boycott opening day sales of Mass Effect 3, just one day of not buying it, then it would be a huge gesture to EA. Just one day. If you get it the next, whatever, but one day of not buying what could be the biggest release in a long time would provide them with a little glimpse at just how ridiculous this practice is.
–Christian a.k.a. Boris The Baby Eater
Edit: This is the video by TotalBiscuit that originally piqued my interest.
1 Williams, M.H.. 2012. EA Reshuffles After $1 Billion In Digital Year. http://www.industrygamers.com/news/ea-reshuffles-after-1-billion-in-digital-year/ (accessed Feb 22, 2012).