Tuesday, October 9, 2012

EA Sports, It's in the (same) game

I'm not much of a fan of sports video games. The last sports game I actively played was NHL '99. They just get boring after a while and I lose interest. But there is a market for them and there are a LOT of people that are more than willing to cough up that $60 every year to get the latest iteration of their favorite sports game. Well what if those folks have been coughing up not just features that are a lot a like but for features that are actually the same?

The Consumerist has an article up on on the very striking similarities that EA product FIFA '13 bears to last year's model, FIFA '12.

Truthfully with the way that sports games only really seem to change every few years I am not only not surprised by this but I have way expected it. Like cars that change body style at intervals a lot of the sports titles put out by the gaming giant (and if you are into video games based on actual pro sports, you are playing mostly EA produced games) appear to have only relatively small changes (like updating rosters to reflect actual current pro sport rosters) and then something big every years.

Personally I think the cheapest way for EA to go would be to sell the game at $60, offer downloadable content (that's DLC) packs for things like roster changes and new uniforms for a few years, and then every so often (like every five years) release an actual new game.

So for example EA would release FIFA '10 as a full game. When it's time for 2011-2014 instead of releasing a whole new game just drop a DLC pack. When 2015 comes along then release a full game for FIFA '15.

But that probably won't happen.

Generally speaking DLC packs are a lot cheaper than the game they are updating. Let's do a bit of math.

Let's take a look at buying FIFA '10 - FIFA '15 in two different ways.

With the way things are now: $60 x 6 = $360.

If done my way: $60 + ($30x5) = $210.

Yeah EA would laugh at this idea if someone proposed it to them. As a game company they are in it for the money. There is no way they would adopt a release schedule that would net them less money from customers.

So in light of that bear the advice at the end of The Consumerist article in mind:
For folks who don’t want to get burned by buying the same game with a new name, we recommend not pre-ordering the game. Instead, wait until it’s been out for at least a week. Then check the various review sites and online retailers to read through reviews before deciding if it’s worth plunking down your hard-earned cash.
There is a reason pre orders are pushed so hard. When you pre order a game you are literally betting your money that the game you are waiting for the release of is going to be a good one. Once they have your money it almost doesn't matter how much you really like the game or hate the game. You've already lost the bet by then.