Though this is a bit of a departure from my normal posts, I’ve been distracted by this news all day. In short, Bioware’s new release, Mass Effect 2 will include $15 in one-time downloadables for anyone who buys the game new from a retailer.
What a great move by a game developer to find new ways to cash in on the used game market. Though as a gamer who often waits to buy used, I can’t say I’m too excited by this prospect (though the sales guy in me is smiling).
My first question: Is the new-purchase freebie content compelling enough to stand on its own for secondhand gamers? I mean, is it compelling enough to shell out $15 for? Time will tell, though I suspect an ulterior motive. This seems like the perfect way to test the waters of a hybrid game delivery method. One where the core engine with a basic game (at a cheap price mom won’t balk at) is purchased as a physical disc, and the bulk of the content is purchased as a download. Classic razor and blade method of distribution, but with a video game twist.
Extending my fantasy: When this does catch on, it will be quite a boon for smaller game studios and indie developers alike. They can shift their focus on creating maps and stories and character development, and know that the engine is set in stone (or in this case, burned into the “core engine” DVD). As gamers, we could look forward to tighter engine work and deeper storylines.
Of course there would be proper split between the core game disc and the DLC that’s currently a mystery, and striking that balance would take some work. It’s influenced by a few key factors: The price of the Disc (not too cheap, not too expensive), the quality of the core game elements (needs to stand on its own without a requirement of DLC), and a healthy selection of DLC (enough variety to satisfy gamer needs, but lean enough to be profitable). Err on the blend of these elements, and you’re disappointing the gamer community, leaving money on the table, or losing money on your core investment.
I see Bioware baby stepping to find the balance.
Original Inspiration: Mass Effect 2: the Cerberus Network will run used gamers $15 (thanks Ars!)