Dragon Age: Origins‘ gender-bending golem. The Saboteur‘s topless dancers. Mass Effect 2‘s battle-scarred mercenary.
They’re all free for gamers peeling off that fresh from the factory shrink wrap, but what about those purchasing a pre-owned copy? Dubbed “Project Ten Dollar” by Electronic Arts, the single use vouchers for free downloadable content tucked away in many of the company’s recent releases is part of a plan to both boost new game sales and deter pre-owned sales by offering free DLC to those who buy the game new, while requiring those who go the yellow sticker route to purchase the content separately, a strategy that some retailers are predicting will enrage rather than entice consumers.
“The move to DLC exclusive content is an interesting step, and this obviously provides the publisher with another revenue stream [but] this move will definitely make the game less valuable on the pre-owned market, so it will be sold cheaper, meaning customers will get less value when trading in,” said SwapGame CEO Marc Day. “EA’s Project Ten Dollar move is aiming to stifle pre-owned games sales, but what they don’t factor in is the damage this could have for them in relation to new sales.”
“The person you’re pissing off the most is the consumer,” added Chipsworld MD Don McCabe. “This affects [them] directly – they pay the same amount of money and yet the resale value is much reduced. From a retailer’s point of view, they’ll just readjust [the price] bearing in mind you have to buy the voucher.”
EA’s not the only one trying to entice gamers to breathe deep that fresh from the factory smell, with reports that online play in the Sony’s upcoming SOCOM sequel for the PSP will be locked until users redeem an included code, with new codes for purchasers of a pre-owned copy priced at a hefty $20.
It was only a matter of time before publishers tried to get their hands on a slice of GameStop’s crazy pre-owned game sales profits, or at least slap the metaphorical fork out of their hands. Personally, I see it as win-win since I both hate GameStop and love buying new, non-scratched games, especially now that they’re being enhanced with free additional content right outta the box. Yeah, this sucks for those poor college gamers whose exposure to and enjoyment of new titles is dependent on the diminishing return of trade-ins, but that makes the retailers the bad guy, not the publisher.