One of the things I frequently hear on this blog is that gamers are tired of getting ripped off by game companies. They feel that companies like Infinity Ward are being just plain greedy by selling a new game for $60, only to release additional map packs and downloadable content (DLC) a couple of months, if not weeks, after a game’s release. Since I am gamer just like you, I completely understand where this outrage is coming from. However, there are some major developments in the gaming community that you need to be aware off that is largely responsible for some of these changes.
By far the factor most responsible for the sudden influx of paid DLC is a name that you probably know all to well: GameStop. The leading retailer in computer and console games has made an absolute killing in the used games business as cash strapped gamers buy used in an effort to save a little cash. Unfortunately, this major cash source has come at the expense of game development companies and publishers.
The best explanation I have heard of the situation would be to compare it to the movie industry. When a new movie is released, cinemas like Regal and AMC pay a portion of each movie ticket sold to the actual movie studio. Likewise, when a new game is sold, retailers like Gamestop pass on a portion of the sales to the actual game developers. However, in the used game market, Gamestop keeps all of the profits. It’s litteraly like having a movie theater like AMC sell the same physical movie ticket to consumers over and over again. Movie studios would make a profit from the original ticket sale but be cut out of any future profits.
That’s exactly what’s going on in the gaming industry right now. When you take into consideration that the used game market accounts for an ever increasing portion of total game sales, it’s easy to see why studios like Infinity Ward are a little bit upset. This situation is even worse on games released on the PS3. That’s because studios who release games on the PS3, also maintain the servers needed to support multiplayer. So you have the situation where a studio gets the profit from 2 million physical copies sold, but has to maintain the servers for 4 million users. As you can imagine, this isn’t something that studios very happy about.
So what are companies like Infinity Ward to do when faced with declining profits? Release more DLC!!! More and more studios are starting to view DLC as not a way of ripping off gamers, but rather getting profits to previous levels. That levels customers like us footing the bill.