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.