Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Project Ten Dollar

I’m not a fan of EA, I’m really not. Sure, their evil pales a bit when compared to our good friends at Activision and they are trying hard to improve their image, but still. Nevertheless, I really like their “Project Ten Dollar” initiative. PTD describes the idea of adding something to your games that is only available on a new purchase, but not when buying a used game. Examples would include the “The Stone Prisoner” downloadable content for Dragon Age: Origins or the Cerberus Network for Mass Effect 2. In both cases there was a key in the original retail box that could only be used once. If you buy one of those games used, the previous owner likely already used the key and you will miss out on the downloadable content (or pay through the nose for it). I like it; find out why below the break.

Shale. This bad girl (oooh, spoiler!) is free only if you bought a new copy of Dragon Age: Origins.

It would be easy to be angry at EA for Project Ten Dollar, it is just another money-making scheme by a greedy publisher, right? Wrong. Yes, EA is trying to take back a part of the market share that they lost to the used game stores, but I firmly believe that those stores don’t deserve the money in the first place. They pay a pittance to their customers for turning games back in and then gorge themselves on the return on investment when selling the game for almost full market price again. What’s worse, they don’t really provide the services expected from a retail store anymore.

If I go into a game shop instead of ordering the game at amazon or even getting it through digital distribution, it’s because I want the game that I’m looking for right away or because I want to have the additional customer service of the shop. Nowadays I don’t get either. The stores carry fewer new games every day and pretty much just sell the used games they have plus a small amount of best sellers. When I go to a shop because it’s faster than ordering the game, I surely don’t want them to say: “Sorry, we don’t have the game right now. We can call you when it comes in though.”

And customer service? Hah. The sales clerks often don’t know their games anymore, no ideas about release schedules, compatibility issues, or even their own stock. I get more customer service from the comments on Amazon than I get from your average game shop sales clerk. It’s awful. So, coming back to EA, I absolutely don’t see why Game Stop and its ilk should make a single dime this way – and definitely not if that money is taken away from the game developers. I’d rather pay the greedy publisher who will hopefully pass some of that money along to the developer studios or at least offer those studios a better contract for the next game if the first one made a lot of money.

This might just spell the demise for these game shops, but I’m not going to shed a tear anyway. The times in which these offered added value are over (exceptions may exist) and we really don’t need a middle man for absolutely no added value at all.