Forbes editorial says the Mass Effect 3 DLC controversy is “our own damn fault”

Friday, 24 February 2012 20:08 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Paul Tassi has posted an editorial on Forbes, voicing his opinion on the recent brouhaha over the From Ashes DLC for Mass Effect 3. In short, he says that any exploitation of gamers occurring at the hands of publishers is basically “our own damn fault.”

Bioware has said Mass Effect 3′s From Ashes DLC was not developed alongside the core game, and that the Prothean content it contains is “optional” and was “designed to appeal to long-time fans” as part of the Collector’s edition of the game.

“It just isn’t correct to call these companies evil for attempting to extract more money from their industry,” he wrote. “It may be eye rolling or exasperating, but it’s sort of like getting upset that auto companies charge extra for GPS, when really, all cars should come standard with it. The “exploitation” of gamers that I allude to my title is really all in the control of the gamers themselves. Yet we all either fail to realize it, or simply don’t care.

“What EA, and many of the other companies are doing, is a simple economic experiment. They know gamers are a loyal group, and they want to see just how far they can push you to shell out money for the “complete” experience of a game you love.

“The same goes for this Mass Effect DLC. You might say that you wish the extra mission was in the game, thus saving you $10. But hell, I wish the game was $30, but that doesn’t meant I won’t buy it for $60. The question at hand is…how much do you love Mass Effect? You’ve shown you love it $60 worth for years, and now, they’re seeing if you love it $70 worth.”

Tassi believes the DLC debate over the years has “just been a test,” and that gamers have yet to demonstrate to companies that they want to pay less for games. In fact, his opinion is that for the entertainment value they provide, “we’re still getting a bargain.”

“Take this $70 I’m shelling out for Mass Effect 3 and its DLC,” he said. “I’m likely to spend at least thirty or forty hours with the game in total, beating it probably twice with two different characters. When you do the math, I’m paying $1.75 an hour to be fully entertained by something I love. Compare that to a $10 movie ticket, which would be $5 an hour, or the $90 I spend a month on 300 cable channels to watch a grand total of three different shows a week.

“When you then look at a game like Call of Duty, where a dedicated player might spend 500 hours or more playing it over the course of its year-long life cycle, even if he paid $105 for the game and all its DLC, he’s paying a mere 21 cents an hour for his favorite game.”

Still, he concedes that “there is a limit” and eventually companies will start taking too much out of the final product to release as DLC and charge too much on top of that for what’s inside the box – ultimately losing customers in the process.

“As soon as the numbers stop adding up, the practice will reach a plateau,” Tassi wrote. “The problem is that we’re not there yet, and though each new step forward takes us a little closer to that cutoff line, we simply haven’t shown these companies that what they’ve done is truly that hurtful to us. If it was, these products and games simply would not sell, and the practice would be scaled back. And that isn’t what’s happening.

“So while I may admire someone like Total Biscuit taking a stand for the gaming industry of yesteryear, I think it’s a somewhat futile effort, and I don’t feel guilty for my upcoming purchase of this “evil” DLC pack. It’s not “right,” in the sense that we are being manipulated to a certain extent, but it’s only because these games are worth it to us. Why else do you think there are people out there who rack up $10,000 bills in Farmville? It may seem downright cruel to sell someone that much virtual farm equipment, but if they’re willing to buy, many would argue you’d be a fool not to.”

You can read the entire thing on Forbes.


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  1. Fin

    100% agree with this.

    A) Games are very good value for money. Even a short game, say 6 hours long (the shortest SP that could be offered for a full-price game I’d say) for £40 (£6.50/hour) is about equivalent to what I’d pay in the cinema (~£12 for 90m – £8/hour).
    B) The market for DLC only exists because people buy them. If people stopped buying DLC (or by extension, preordering games), it wouldn’t exist.

    The fault, dear Brutus, is in ourselves.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. AHA-Lambda


    #2 3 years ago
  3. LOLshock94


    #3 3 years ago
  4. Talkar

    Hence, why i’m not, and several others aren’t, buying this game, even though i love the Mass Effect series x)

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Ercarret

    I think Tassi kind of misses an important point. Developing DLC isn’t wrong in itself, but you could release it with a little more tact. If you release it day one (hell, they even accidentally released it prior to day one), it seems like you’re exploiting your customers and people will call you out on it. Forking up for DLC isn’t nearly as compelling when you still have the full game to complete. Instead, wait two weeks or a month and then release it. People will have finished the game and be begging for more content anyway. Plus, they may have recieved a new paycheck that’s just ready to be spent.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. DSB

    It’s not really surprising that a Forbes writer launches into an all-out defense using some of the most basic arguments to put the entire weight of the issue onto the consumer, without examining any of the actual problems with the model, which are very much the responsibility of the publishers.

    The key word is viability, which is what makes the difference between substantial economic experiments and total economic meltdowns.

    Once you decide to sell less for more, or even start charging for nothing, like your online passes etc., you’re essentially in the process of undermining the market.

    You’re building a bubble that’s based on absolutely nothing, purely so you can take your earnings, and make them bigger, without the inconvenience of making an actual product.

    That’s the difference between economic liberalism and liberalism. Liberalism requires a healthy market for the long term, where economic liberalism just wants one that’s as profitable as it can be, even if it all falls apart the next day.

    The argument that it’s all on the consumer is of course basically valid. In fact it’s obvious. But it’s also a fact that the consumer rarely knows what’s actually good for him or her. People buy bad food, bad cars and bad computers every day.

    When you pay to a pension fund, do you realize that you’re actually empowering that fund to partake in a virtual pyramid scheme based on bad loans that’s going to crash the global economy as soon as someone realizes the emperor bears no clothes?

    Chances are you don’t.

    Just like gamers aren’t likely to realize that they’re being scammed by publishers who are reaching for more control, and launching more dubious products than they ever have since the Atari crash.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. John117

    I shall buy the game but ignore DLC, that will teach those pesky developers at Bioware to launch DLC from game one!

    #7 3 years ago
  8. The_Red

    @1 Seriously? You consider £40 a good price and a 6-8 hour game good value for that!? I guess we have different interpretations of good value. Also saying this is “our own damn fault” is like drug addicts saying that the way smugglers and drug lords exploit them is their own fault and they should not blame drug traffickers. Sure, part of the blame does go to the said addicts but it does make the people who exploit them any less evil. I know it’s an extreme example but right now, the situation is like this:


    And yes, I do compare said “loyal” gamers that buy “evil” DLC to addicts that buy drugs and give more money to the assholes that profit from human misery.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Phoenixblight

    I agree with the writer. It is the consumer who is enabling this business model if it wasn’t such a great idea explain Warden’s Keep for Dragon Age Origins selling 1 million the first week. Its only the publishers responsibility for doing what a business does. The consumer has to draw a line and we have yet to do that.


    One hell of a stretch you are going with that because 1) Games do not create crime 2) Are not addictive to the level of heroine. 3) Do not create “human misery” if a piece of software has that much control over you then there is a bigger issue then DLC.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. DarkElfa

    @9, I guess it’s developer’s faults their games are getting pirated. I mean if they didn’t leave the programming loopholes they leave in games, the pirates wouldn’t be so prone to pirate them.

    It’s not the pirate’s fault for doing what a pirate does, The developers have to draw the line and they’ve yet to do that.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Phoenixblight


    Cool story, bro.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. DarkElfa


    I do what I can, it’s a slow day. ;)

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Da Man

    People realizing the whole system was never meant to be beneficial for them, and thinking everyone around is a tool who doesn’t know what’s better. Where I live people get to know what’s to buy by the time they start working. Or else after a few tragical mistakes, but then that carries over to everything anyway. Ah, the joy of being young and passionate.

    Dlc era is evil though.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. OlderGamer

    I also agree with the Forbes editor. I have been feeling this way for a long time. I bought NCAA Football 12 this season, it cost me 85usd if you included day one DLC. I used to buy these games yearly, then it went to ever other year. I don’t think i will be buying another one for along time.

    It isn’t just a pennies per hour playing ratio that bugs me. Go play a game like Rift or Wow, 15usd/month and I play a stupid number of hours, prolly 50plus a week. Thats value.

    And the reason DLC launches day one is that they want to strike when the iron is hot. Right now your excited about the fresh new game your sticking on your system. In two or three weeks time, your less likly to still be in love with that game and your interests may have moved on.

    On most games like this, I say, when you can, wait for a Steam sale. They are likly to put the game and all of its DLC on sale for a reasonable and affordable price. Oh wait, perhaps that is why EA is pumping Origins!!! Hmm, yea that sounds like a good idea.

    It is a toss up between EA and Acti as to which one is more evil.

    I am looking forward, I think, to the days when Publishers go the way of the Dodo bird. I never mind paying a fair price for a good game, but the pubs job is increasingly become squezing every once of blood out a franchise and charging us every last penny they can get for it.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. DarkElfa

    Look, of course you can blame everything on the consumer, after all, he or she votes with their wallets.

    On the other hand, all this apologist garbage makes me sick. “Hey, don’t blame the corp for being a corp..”

    Bullshit. Corporations aren’t wild fucking animals only capable of operating on instinct. They’re ran by human beings who CHOOSE to try and fuck people out of as much cash as possible.

    At one time businesses valued their customers and tried to give them as much bang for their buck as they could to instill loyalty. Now they try to rape that same loyalty in order to give you as little bang for as much buck as they can.

    Only an asshole would blame the teenager in a horror flick for going outside and getting stabbed by a maniac. We should be able to go outside without the worry of a damned maniac on the loose at all.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. DSB

    The notion that companies have no responsibility for what they put out or how they sell it is just bullshit. If that was truly the case, there would be no ban against lead paint. Companies had no problem using that, until they were ordered not to.

    It is a shared responsibility, and it probably has a lot to do with companies like Apple being better funded than most national school systems. People are ignorant, they often have no idea what they’re supporting or what it means.

    Just look at the American South. People vote Republican because they’re Christians who like guns. They don’t for a second consider that they’re also among the poorest people in the country, and that they’re going to be completely ignored as a result of that vote. Say what you want, but those people still care more about their children and their personal future than they do about Jesus or whether they hunt with a .50 or just a .22. But their vote doesn’t reflect it, because they don’t know any better.

    Sadly that ignorance gets carried over into the consumer realm. That’s how Toshiba are able to sell barely functional laptops bordering on a recall, and McDonalds are able to sell food that kills you slowly.

    Ultimately the Harvard crowd fucks the community college crowd. That’s how society works, and there are few things to do about that without ending up with something even worse.

    But to say that the brightest guys in the room bear no responsibility for fucking over the less bright guys in the room, is just bullshit. That’s just pointlessly trying to justify being an asshole.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. Phoenixblight

    “Only an asshole would blame the teenager in a horror flick for going outside and getting stabbed by a maniac. We should be able to go outside without the worry of a damned maniac on the loose at all.”

    Only a perfect world would that be possible but that is not the case. Again death = video game industry? Another stretch. THis is not an industry putting a gun to your head and said you have to buy every DLC. You have a choice where the teen going out and getting stabbed does not have choice and can’t say “No, I don’t feel like getting stabbed today” and the maniac would then have to obey.

    “But to say that the brightest guys in the room bear no responsibility for fucking over the less bright guys in the room, is just bullshit. That’s just pointlessly trying to justify being an asshole.”

    Yeah well life is hard.

    #17 3 years ago
  18. xxJPRACERxx

    I have so much games that I bought day1 and never played and now they’re sub-30$. From now on I’ll never pay more than $30 for a game, including all the DLCs. I’m glad that I play mainly on PC, Steam sales are tough to beat.

    #18 3 years ago
  19. DSB

    @17 Case and point.

    #19 3 years ago
  20. TheWulf

    This is why Steam sales exist.

    Don’t agree with the price of a product and its DLC? Wait for it to show up on Steam. I tried Human Revolution via OnLive and didn’t really care for it much, so if I pick it up it’ll likely be this weekend in the 66% off sale.

    Steam sales, and things like them, are the way of sensible gamers.

    #20 3 years ago
  21. Levester

    this idiot obviously doesnt understand gaming. its not about the fucking money. its about growing up with games and admiring the legendary developers you praise. then when you’re all grown up, you get your shot at making a game for the next generation, so they can have that same childhood experience as you did. its about community not about dirty green paper.

    Sure, you need money to make a game, obviously. I’m not saying money plays no role in the production of a game. but to say ” They know gamers are a loyal group, and they want to see just how far they can push you to shell out money” and then try to justify it by claiming that our gaming is our downfall is a paradox in itself. we are gamers. we will buy games. DOESNT MEAN WE SHOULD BUY SHITTY GAMES OR SHITTY CONTENT.

    if you’re going to exploit your fans, then dont be surprised when we retaliate by calling you evil or greedy. We see what you’re doing, Bioware and EA, and we gamers rarely forget such betrayals.

    If you want to make it in the business stay true to your fans, and we’ll stay true to you.

    #21 3 years ago
  22. Phoenixblight


    He would be considered a gamer too as he plans on buying Mass Effect 3. SO your point is moot.

    #22 3 years ago
  23. Lloytron

    Awww boo fucking hoo!

    I agree with the writer 100%.

    I’ll buy Mass Effect 3 as I love the series – but I won’t buy the DLC.

    Awww but I haven’t got the complete game awwww wahhhhhh

    #23 3 years ago
  24. speedxl01

    This is equally what MS does with charging for online, when it should be free, they could include online with silver subscriptions, but then they would lose a lot of revenue because they wouldn’t sell the gold subscription without offering something more like free games etc..

    Its difficult but as the article points out, if we as gamers don´t care about this then why shouldn’t they charge more..

    #24 3 years ago
  25. BULArmy

    I have only bought Episodes from Liberty City and that is the only kind of DLC I have ever bought, because it was done right. Paying $10-$15 for maps or 1-2 hours of additional content is wasted money. So I just pirate them and put them on my original game.

    #25 3 years ago
  26. OrbitMonkey

    The elephant in the room here, is that Mass Effect dlc is usually shit.

    #26 3 years ago
  27. Phoenixblight


    Subjective. I have actually enjoyed all of the DLC for Mass Effect 2 especially overlord and Shadow broker. Every single one of them was worth the price I had paid especially when it was on sale.

    #27 3 years ago
  28. Mineral4r7s

    the worst part is pirates get the full content without even paying once.

    #28 3 years ago
  29. Mike

    Economics 101. The whole article is one long, “well, durr.”

    I WILL by the day one DLC. I don’t like it, but yeah, it’s worth it to me. So there you go. However, if it was 500 Points for a helmet, they’d know about it, as no one would buy it.

    #29 3 years ago
  30. Da Man

    I’ll pay $40 a year for a system which allows me to send game invites to anyone non dependent on the game, as well as mute anyone and chat with them. Not that I disagree that you should get free multiplayer with Silver accounts but I’ll very much spend the money on this instead of some one time affair which will be gathering dust after I complete the campaign, and how many people buy those.. Obv they like it just as much to justify the purchase then.

    People rarely continue to pay for something they don’t need.

    Oh, and comparing leisure which can cost you too much due to your own greed and lack of self control to something your life can depend on. Top satire that.

    #30 3 years ago
  31. Ryzilient

    I’m sorry, but why do any of us give a damn? This was going to happen from the get go, and honestly, a select group of the gamer populace boycotting the game will have very little if any effect.

    Build a bridge, walk over it, and then realise that in a few months, nobody will care.

    #31 3 years ago
  32. Mace

    Utterly deranged argument. It’s a test of love, oh right. It may be some poor fool’s love to spent all their money, but it’s surely not the love of the company either for their work or for the customer to extract content in order to make profit. “That social economic experiment” may not be “evil” (in the sadistic sense) but it’s cold materialism and respectless and a proof of the shallow calculatedness of their products (thus making talking about “love” ridiculous and cynical).
    Also you “can’t compare hours of gameplay”, when it’s about comparing their games between each other, but you sure can, and most pedantly down to the cent, when it serves their purpose. I wonder if one should make Call of Duty the standard reference model and charge for a 500 pages novel twenty times than they cost now.

    “Why else do you think there are people out there who rack up $10,000 bills in Farmville? It may seem downright cruel to sell someone that much virtual farm equipment, but if they’re willing to buy, many would argue you’d be a fool not to.””

    Now, THAT’s evil. It’s not cruel to sell that much virtual “equipment” but it sure is to farm people’s money and lives with such a hollow and anti-social activity.

    Thanks, Bioware/EA for confirming every villainous stereotype in the real world as well as in your games…

    #32 3 years ago
  33. OrbitMonkey

    four letters G.O.T.Y.

    Wait you impatient people. The standalone game will be nearly half price after a few months anyway, so get it then and then the dlc if you can’t wait for the G.O.T.Y.

    If your really desperate for a sci-fi squad shooter in march, pick up Binary Domain. That’ll be in the bargain bins by then ;-)

    #33 3 years ago
  34. Samuel

    The people getting outraged over the DLC are choosing to ignore the fact that the DLC was developed after the main game was finished, and therefore was not taken out of the main game simply to have people pay extra for it. It was always DLC. It is simply ready on the same day as the game is coming out. There’s absolutely nothing to be outraged about, but of course that never stops the internet from having a good old outrage.

    #34 3 years ago

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