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DLC and the Urge to Buy Games New

 

The news yesterday (or reminder, maybe, if the deadline is January 11) that Dragon Age II's first DLC will be available free on the first day (March 8) if you pre-order the game by the 11th has done something to make a blogger cry in delight: combined both the "companies trying to get people to buy games new" controversy with the "DLC should be free to all!" controversy.

It's a win-win for us bloggers! Two hot topics all wrapped up into one juicy, hot little bundle.

(Isn't he dreamy?)

To sum up for those who don't want to follow the link I've provided (and you really should, since GIO would probably welcome the traffic), if you pre-order the game by January 11, you get automatically upgraded to the "Signature Edition" and will get a code to download the "Exiled Prince" DLC that will introduce Sebastian Vael to Hawke's adventure. If you don't pre-order the game, then this will cost you $7. Also the day the game comes out.

Cue the fan outrage.

"DLC coming out the first day????? Why can't it just be in the game I'm already paying $60 for???? Thieves! Scammers!!!!!  Harlots!!!!!!!!!"

Ok, maybe not harlots...

Normally, I'm with those who yell and scream about DLC coming out like that, even more so if it's already on the disc and you're just buying the code to unlock it. I get that. I'm outraged too.

Ok, maybe not *that* outraged, but it does annoy the hell out of me.

This time, though, I'm with Bioware. What's wrong with providing a little extra content to reward those who are going to buy the game new? And are willing to commit to it by pre-ordering? The content isn't *necessary*. It's not a cool gun that's going to make you pwn people on competitive multiplayer. For those who are reserving, it's much better than 5 Stimpaks and a cool new outfit (though that's not *bad* either), or a character skin unlock.

It's just some extra cool stuff. And if you don't want to pre-order, or can't? Well, $7 isn't *that* bad, depending on how extensive the DLC is (which we don't know yet).

In this era when game companies are trying desperately to keep afloat (see: any Activision developer not involved with CoD), when used game sales are not going to that developer, they have to come up with some creative ways to get people to buy it new. EA's Online Pass is one example, as is THQ"s level-capping those who don't buy the game new or pay for its online pass (something that I think is even better than EA's, because it gives players a taste of the online, so they can decide whether they like it or not). Then there are the pre-order bonuses that various games are giving out now.

Most of the pre-order bonuses are pretty innocuous, something that only true gamers would really care about (oooooo, a new character skin! A new outfit! Pretty colours!)

Most of that stuff I can get by without. I have pre-ordered a game and received some of that stuff, but I was already going to buy the game new anyway. So I just figured "heck, why not get the stuff since I'm going to buy it anyway?" It didn't entice me to buy it new, though it did entice the pre-order rather than just going out to get it in the first week or so.

The Dragon Age II one worked on me, though. I was going to buy the game, and probably even buy it new. But I wasn't going to necessarily buy it on the first day. Now I'm definitely doing that, and the wife is going to pre-order it for me on Monday while she's out and about.

But what if you just can't buy it new, either for financial reasons or what have you?

Really, is it such a big deal that you either don't play Exiled Prince or that you pay $7 for it when you eventually do get to it? You don't have to buy it at the exact same time you buy the game itself, do you?

Seriously, if more of you bozos bought Singularity new, the sales figures wouldn't have been so bad!!!!

What? It probably  wouldn't have made that much of an increase on the 330,000 that bought it?

Yeah, I guess that's wishful thinking.

But I digress...

Game companies need new sales to stay afloat. I don't have any problem with companies trying to entice people to do that, as long as they are not actively damaging the customer (like trying to get them to pay for the same multiplayer experience that we're getting now).

Really, what's the difference between new buyers of Alan Wake getting the first DLC episode free and new buyers of Dragon Age II? The fact that the DLC comes out the same day of the game's release?

That's not a bug. That's a feature.

 

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