Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
20 September 2007
History says you're wrong
From a Joystiq post today about buying the right to unlock something that shipped on a game's disc:
If a feature is already on a disc, it should be accessible. Essentially 2K Sports is charging consumers more money for something they already bought, selling them a key to a door they already own.
I hate to defend the game companies on this one, but this has been going on for at least a decade or more. And people liked it. Back when id Software released Quake, they'd sell you a $10 CD that had the shareware version on it, but could be registered (over the phone, I believe) to access the full version.

Just because you bought media with data on it doesn't guarantee you the right to access it for free. Sorry.

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--Matt Matthews at 12:31
Comment [ 9 ]

Comments on this post:

I agree. The only reason the content is already on the disc is for convenience sake. The company could have just as easily put the content on a separate disc and charge you for that, but doing so would be cost prohibitive.

Here are the choices:

1. Expensive content on separate media.
2. Cheapear content on the same media.

Pick one. Getting valuable content for nothing is not a choice.

By Blogger mgroves, at 20 September, 2007 12:54  

But it's not like it worked out so well with Quake that every other id release has followed this model, either. Divx's expiring data disks didn't work out too well, either.

The fact that it's on the orignial game disk tells the user that it was part of the orignial game project but was withheld to sell at a later date. I'm probably not the only person that finds the idea of paying full price for an incomplete-but-unlockable package annoying.

One person's microtransactions are another's nickel and diming.

By Blogger Rick, at 20 September, 2007 14:12  

Ask Rockstar what it means to include content on your disk that you "shouldn't" be able to access.

Interesting to compare to Apple, which pretended it would get in trouble if it *didn't* charge extra to unlock the 802.11n (iirc) in MacBooks (iirc again) a while back.

By Blogger rufbo, at 20 September, 2007 14:52  

That's an apples and oranges comparison. When you bought the disc you knew you were buying shareware for the purpose of evaluating it and that you'd have to pony up full price later. Also it was priced accordingly as shareware (just a couple bucks, as I recall).

When you buy a full game at full price you're expecting the complete game. Unlocking content that's already on the disc means that the publisher made a deliberate decision to withhold it and sell it for an additional price later. This wouldn't happen in pre-DLC days, publsihers would ship all the content that was done.

I realize that if outcry builds over this publishers will just stop putting it on the disc so we have no way of knowing when the content was developed, but the principle still stands.

By Blogger Damian, at 20 September, 2007 14:58  

When you buy a full game at full price you're expecting the complete game.

The game was incomplete without this? Was Quake incomplete without QuakeWorld?

Unlocking content that's already on the disc means that the publisher made a deliberate decision to withhold it and sell it for an additional price later.

So? This is objectionable for what reason? If I make an FPS and later charge for a level editor that I've had the whole time, is that a problem? If I package the level editor on the disc as a convenient way to distribute it to people who might want to pay extra for it, that's wrong how?

This wouldn't happen in pre-DLC days, publsihers would ship all the content that was done.

So the argument is that since this couldn't be done before, doing it now is wrong? What?

By Blogger jvm, at 20 September, 2007 15:13  

Interesting to compare to Apple, which pretended it would get in trouble if it *didn't* charge extra to unlock the 802.11n (iirc) in MacBooks (iirc again) a while back.

I remember this and I thought Apple's reason at the time was kind of odd. (I recall it having to do with the SEC or FTC.) I can, however, see a legitimate case where this kind of thing could have happened to Apple or Microsoft: fees owed to the DVD/CSS people. They could reasonably have locked up a software DVD video player on an OS installation CD (let's say 6-7 years ago, before DVD players were ubiquitous on computers) and charged people to unlock it if/when they upgraded the drive in the computer to a DVD drive because they would then need to pay the CSS people a fee for the license.

No reason something similar couldn't happen today with Blu-Ray or HD-DVD media.

By Blogger jvm, at 20 September, 2007 15:23  

So the argument is that since this couldn't be done before, doing it now is wrong? What?

Yes, that sums it up. It changes the equation of a fair value, which is what people expect for their money. Reverse the situation. In the past publishers were getting a fair value for their money and were shipping any content that was ready to go. Both the development budget and price were set months or years in advance so this development up until going gold was taken into account. Now, because they can hold content back they can do so, even though there is no value added for the consumer and they expended no extra cost in this development.

We don't want "valuable content for nothing". We want we had always gotten until technology made it possible to skew that equation against us. We're telling the publishers that paying more for the same amount of content doled out in dribs and drabs is not a choice.

By Blogger Damian, at 20 September, 2007 15:50  

ahh, the Quake shareware CD. An easy way for a young poor kid to get all of the ID games for free. :)

I buy all of the ID games nowadays even though they pretty much suck for gameplay, I still buy them to support ID open sourcing their code.


Let the companies lock their content up. If your buying the content on a PC there WILL be a way to unlock that content. (and if you don't agree with the concept just don't buy the game). I personally never found a reason to buy extra content for games I've already bought. There's too many free addons out there to waste money on companies who just want to nickel and dime you to death and usually the companies offerings pale in comparison to what's already out there.....

By Blogger Ronald, at 20 September, 2007 17:37  

And I think legally speaking, this as a closed case years and years ago. You pay for the medium on which your software arrives and the license on which it is used. You don't own what's on the disk, simple as that.

By Blogger Josh, at 29 September, 2007 11:18  

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