EA: Single-Digit Percentage of Gamers Purchase New-Copy DLC; 70% Redeem Code with Purchase

By Brian Leahy, May 11, 2010 3:20pm PDT On its 2010 fiscal year earnings call, Electronic Arts revealed that over 70% of purchasers of its recent titles that include free, one-time DLC codes with all new copies have redeemed the codes. This includes Mass Effect 2's Cerberus Network, Battlefield: Bad Company 2's console VIP code, and Dragon Age: Origin's The Stone Prisoner.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Dragon Age: Origins, two titles with packed-in DLC.
Additionally, EA is seeing a single-digit percentage of the overall player-base purchase this content instead of redeeming codes. It is unclear, however, is this is due to a small percentage of players actually purchasing these games used without codes or if many do not wish to purchase this content with a used copy.

EA has no method to determine if a gamer is hitting its servers with a new or used copy, but believes that it will be able to offer more insight into the issue after several months of running the "Online Pass" system for EA SPORTS titles, which limits online play and other connected features to new copies or those that pay $10 on the pass.

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6 Threads | 27 Comments
  • Philbart999 over at Nukezilla posted something today on new-copy DLC with an interesting and familiar anecdote: http://nukezilla.com/2010/05/12/analyst-and-publisher-assumptions-about-used-game-sales-may-be-flawed-but-not-completely-so/

    Early in my career I was employed by a firm that sold counselling and therapy services to corporations to supplement extended benefits plans for their employees. In my role as an Account Manager I was responsible for maintaining the relationship with the corporate client as well as renegotiating contracts with said organizations. One day after I was in the job for about a year, the President of the firm called the Account Managers into his very tastefully decorated corner office with floor to ceiling windows and a panoramic view of the city. He was visibly agitated, and went on to brief us on how we were going to have to renegotiate existing contracts to include significant cost increases for all of our corporate clients.

    We were flabbergasted to say the least. Marketing had been instructing us to highlight the relatively low costs associated with our services when compared to productivity loss from mental health issues. Basically we now had to approach clients we had known for a while and say, “oooops, we messed up with our pricing formulas and now you need to pay us more.”

    Some of us tried to argue that we were going to lose clients and revenue, to say nothing of any potential litigation around opening up existing contracts. The President was not prepared to hear anything of it, and in fact seemed most frustrated when he showed us his research that suggested how much money he was potentially losing. He referred to the firm as his “baby” and genuinely seemed quite emotional about this entire issue.

    Ah yes, good old "executive mandates" motivated by stats from the beancounters. Not paying attention to the concerns of the actual customers.

    The question here ultimately boils down to whether EA is going to get 75% more money from many of us in the upcoming years. To this I respond, not very likely. EA may effectively curtail a large segment of used game purchases of their titles; however, an increase like this one is hard to imagine. Also let’s be clear, this is a first step, EA is going to eventually use this approach with all of their games. Furthermore, when this does result in healthier spreadsheets, I think that many other publishers are going to follow suit.

    When one considers the significance of paid downloadable content (DLC) in current game development plans, combined with this step, I think that the used game market is going to be hard pressed to maintain their current profit margins. Their problem is simple, the people that develop, produce, and publish what used game retailers need, absolutely hates them and will likely never stop until that system has been near abolished. From the developer and publisher’s standpoint, Gamestop and other such retailers are effectively stealing from them, and yes I can guarantee that the publishers see these products as their “babies”.