Wednesday, October 8, 2008

News for 10/8/2008: New & Used Gears of War 2

This week in news we are talking about Epic Studio's plan to release downloadable content for Gears of War 2 for those who buy the game new and on launch date. This seems like a pretty obvious attempt to address lost profit concerns with used games. If this game is purchased used, the consumer will never be able to get their hands on the map pack. We've condensed our discussion, which included sandwich analogies and meat-scented-candles, to the following post. The used games issue has gotten a lot of interested lately. If you've got a strong opinion either way, let us hear it.

Scott: Now, buying Gears 2 used, do we feel cheated?

Jorge: I don't. If I decide to buy it used for a cheaper price I'm essentially getting what I paid for. If anything its more fair.

Scott: But, my point is that once the code for exclusive new content is used, the game is changed. Someone who buys it used is buying a different product. Jorge: That is exactly what the publishers want. If you buy a used version of GoW2, then you are not buying the same product but you are getting a cheaper deal for it. This addition to the game forces the consumer to make a decision that can only give the publishers a more fair portion of the profit. What would you ask for in exchange, I cheaper copy of an already cheap used game? Look at DLC for example. You have two things already on the market. Some people buy it. For those who don't, it is a different game.

Scott: It feels like that with DLC, everyone is starting with the same basic game, and then they can modify it as they see fit. The Gears2 example makes it so that people who buy the same disc won't have the same game nor the option to buy it.

Jorge: They do have the option though. Your option is buy the game when it first hits the shelves. Either you buy the Gears2 and give the developers a more fair share of the profits or you buy the used version and suffer the consequences.

Scott: This calls into question people's rights to sell games. If you buy a game that is only truly "complete" if it is new, the product is instantly devalued for the next person who wants to sell it.Should you have the right to sell the same product you bought, with the only difference is that it is used?

Jorge: Right. That is a tough question, and to be honest I don't know where I side on this. But that is why Epic's action is so ingenious.
Scott: So you think that they're ingenious for confusing us? You think that the glass is half full?
Jorge: If we change how we perceive this new content then GoW2 is satisfying both aspects of the issue here. If we see the new weapons attached to new copies of GoW2 as extra and the lack thereof as the "actual" game, then there isn't a problem. You can still sell your game or buy one used. You just won't be getting that bonus material. Essentially they are just rewarding those gamers who will buy their game early.

Scott: they're only rewarding them if the other gamers have the option to buy the content they initially had to wait for.

Jorge: Do you think it would be more satisfying if they released the content later as DLC?

Scott: I feel like everybody should have the opportunity to play the game in its entirety.
Jorge: What if you saw the extra content as something consumable that you can keep or give away. You could, theoretically, buy GoW2, not use the code, and then sell the game and code together. Or, if you enjoy the map pack, you could use the code, thereby keeping it on your hardware. You could sell the game, just not that portion.

Scott: Essentially, we are moving towards a model where the consumer owns specific components of the game (components they are free to sell individually) instead of the game as a whole.

Jorge: Right. But in this case the loss of value is coming from the user not the publisher.

Scott: And we're both in agreement that we respect the publisher's wishes to make some money off their games.

Jorge: Yes, and Gamestop is a major factor in curbing the profits that flow to the publishers.with their almost fanatical attempts at getting people to buy used games and sell their own for a couple bucks.

Scott: I can't really blame the publishers for trying to circumvent Gamestop since they don't see any money from the used stuff.

Jorge: Yea, but Gamestop itself is at the core of the issue right now. We'll open up that can of worms another day.


  1. While it might not seem like it at the moment, I honestly can't see Epic/Microsoft/whoever only having this content accessible to those who pre-order or buy it on release day. Maybe for a set period of time or something, but eventually I think they will release the maps onto the Marketplace (for free because if it were paid, that would be unfair to those who couldn't get it on release day) so that everyone can have access them. If they didn't, then that potentially could screw with the matchmaking system for multiplayer and/or split the multiplayer community into those who have the extra maps and those who don't.

    That said, these maps are just revised versions of ones from the original game so while they have been updated, people aren't really missing out on new content if they have played or own the first game.

    But yeah, I think it will be on the Marketplace for free eventually. Guess we have to wait and see eh?

  2. @ nismo

    You've got a lot of trust in Microsoft Nismo. I agree with you that they'll release the map pack eventually. After awhile, there is no point to hold onto it any longer. Though I think they're gonna charge something for it. If they release it for free then encouragement to get people to buy new goes away, they can just wait it out. I'm with you in calling their bluff.

  3. I understand your point and in most cases I would agree with you completely.

    Using the original Gears of War's DLC history though, the game had two map packs released; One was for free and the other was paid content.

    Granted the one for free (2 maps) was sponsored (I believe) but it was still free. Apparently Epic wanted to release the paid pack (4 maps) for free as well but it was Microsoft who stopped that, so a compromise was made (similar to Halo 3's maps) where it was paid at first then after six months or so it became free. Knowing this makes me have some confidence that this Gears 2 pack will be free if they release it to everyone later (which I'm rather certain they will). Especially since it is already technically free.

    I guess it all depends on Microsoft but at the moment to me it seems like this pack featuring the old maps re-done will be free and then perhaps Microsoft will charge for any other map pack that comes after that.

    Also, I really need to stop using so many damn brackets.