Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Put Your Gut To One Side, This Is A Good Thing

Note - This discussion contains American metrics, if your patriotism prevents you from digesting them, leave now.

As audiences we often feel a sense of righteousness. We feel the Institutions creating the products we consume in fact owe us some indescribable debt. This is only half right. As paying consumers, institutions owe us the product we pay for which incidentally has been funded on the good faith of our cash. So what happens when we, the consumers don't pay the institutions the money they require to fund the development of such a product? Debt happens. And in 2010s flakey economic climate this is too much of a risk, thus game conglomerate EA steps in to continue it's long drawn battle against video game piracy and used game sales.

To clarify, the profit from every new video game we purchase from a retailer is divided up and spread between all parties involved in its production and distribution, fairly accounting for the costs associated with its existence. However, for every used game sold the profit is owned by the retailer themselves, cutting the content creators from the economic lifeline they require to remain productive. Ever been in a shop and seen a used game £5 cheaper than its freshly shrink-wrapped counterpart, well in fact by opting for the cheaper version you aren't rewarding the people responsible for its creation.

Luckily for EA there are things they can do to combat this damaging scheme. One such method is their recently devised "Project 10 Dollar", a service offered to new game purchasers in which they can unlock additional content to that on the disk by means of a single use redeemable code. This repositions the value of new games versus used ones in the audiences minds with the aim of incentivising new game sales to those pesky pre-owners. And now, EA has gone one step further with the "EA Sports Online Pass". Beginning soon, new EA Sports titles will come with a redeemable code that offers online features and content to those who use it. Consumers who do not buy a new copy of the game will not in fact receive such a code, thus meaning they will have to pay a $10 fee for the privilege. To clarify, EA are preventing used game purchasers from taking their titles online without an added subscription fee.

For consumers then, EA are seemingly removing features they have always had access to in an attempt to make you pay more money. Yes that is one way of viewing such a situation. Alternatively, EA are ensuring that they receive enough money from their games in order to pay for the cost of upholding the servers which enable your online entertainment. It is economically unfeasible to expect EA to maintain online servers for consumers who have payed them zero money for their product.

This announcement has caused uproar, complaints, petty dummy throwing and squabblery to many internet overlords and armchair analysts across the globe, but in fact seems extremely reasonable. If you put your initial gut reaction to one side and examine the details behind the announcement, EA are doing exactly what they should, making sure that their products remain economically viable in a digital age.