EA to release paid DLC before boxed games

Electronic Arts is going to start charging for what analyst Michael Pachter describes as “a very long game demo”; In an effort to gauge the marketability of new games, the publisher will be releasing what they term “premium downloadable content” in advance of the actual box title’s release, revealed Visceral’s Nick Earl during Pachter’s visit to EA’ Redwood City headquarters.

“The PDLC would be sold for $10 or $15 through Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, and would essentially be a very long game demo, along the lines of 2009’s Battlefield 1943,” said Pachter. “A full-blown packaged game would follow shortly after the release of the PDLC, bearing a full retail price.

“Mr. Earl believes that the release of the PDLC first limits the risk of completing and marketing the full packaged version, and serves as a low-cost marketing tool,” he added.

Like 2009’s Battlefield 1943, the prototype for this new digital game business boosting strategy, the premium downloadable content, essentially an extended demo, would be released before the full-blown packaged product, allowing EA to incorporate critical reviews and consumer response into the boxed version of the game.

“It actually sounds like a great strategy,” said Pachter. “I don’t know if they intend to include the PDLC in the packaged product, but my guess is that they won’t. I think that the PDLC will be a ‘prequel’ to the full game, so that they can keep selling it after release of the full game…if the PDLC gets favourable reviews, it will build word of mouth for the boxed product. If the PDLC has issues, they can tweak the packaged product to address those issues, improving the final product before release. “