New Shooter Video Game Charges Gamers For Better Weapons

UPDATE: EA has backed off, and has decided to offer the weapons at no charge. Kotaku has more. This is what I get for leaving a post in Movable Type purgatory for a week.
Electronic Arts’s “Battlefield: Bad Company” is aptly named: the new first-person shooter contains several locked weapons, the purchase of which disadvantages those who only pay for the game. Unlike most purchasable extra content, such as additional songs in Guitar Hero, the weapons for sale in Bad Company give the buyer a competitive advantage over other users, which sort of spoils multiplayer mode for gamers who only bought the standard version of the game.

Our sister site Kotaku explains the situation thus: “Cosmetic additions and extra maps are all well and good, but allowing players to pay in order to get a leg up on the competition is just slimy.” Others agree: a proposed boycott has received over 2000 Diggs. Kotaku fears that EA might just be testing the waters for more extra content, maybe even better players or more ammo. A video from the boycott site illustrates this:

Companies like Blizzard, which publishes World of Warcraft, have forbidden users from selling any virtual content in the real world, a move that eBay has backed up. Perhaps they were just preserving their future monopolies?
(Thanks to Justin!)
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. mgy says:
  2. odhen says:

    This is why I stick to PC gaming, you can’t get away with this kind of crap on the PC.

    Infinity Ward released new maps for the Xbox 360 version a few weeks ago, but nothing for the PC version. Presumably because they can’t figure out a way to make PC gamers pay for it.

  3. mgy says:

    Kotaku has cleared this up already -
    [kotaku.com]

  4. goOutSide says:

    I believe Kotaku also had posted that EA was making them free. Either way them just having this idea makes me, as a gamer, chilled to the bone.

  5. MustyBuckets says:

    Actually, very recently, this was reversed. Kotaku did a story on it here
    [kotaku.com]

  6. MustyBuckets says:

    @mgy: @goOutSide: man, some people are fast.

    Kotaku also mentioned how this just means that they aren’t charging for these weapons, and that in the future they could be charging for new weapons and maps.

    As a gamer, I’m against paying more for things that are already, or should have been, on the disk I own. EA has sold cheat codes for games such as Godfather, which unlocked things that Playstation gamers could unlock with free button codes.

    It is sadly a very small victory against a company, one that feels rehashing sports games the only update being a roster change is perfectly fair.

  7. elf6c says:

    This was dropped already, and announced on gaming blogs, ect. You may want to leave this stuff to Bluesnews as it seems well outside the Comsumerist’s core competency.

  8. weakdome says:

    PC gaming is not immune to this: the free OnLine MMO “Gunz” recently started charging users for the privilage to purchase better weapons. The advantages of each are not significantly better than what you could obtain in-game through actually being a skilled player, so it doesn’t really matter.

  9. m0unds says:

    The fact that it’s an EA game spoils the gameplay for me.

    Fuck EA.

  10. FilthyHarry says:

    It totally ruins the flavor and joy of playing a game to know that someone can pay money for an advantage in gameplay.

  11. swordfish2eva1 says:

    Dude you guys are so late, EA has already changed their mind on this, but apparently if you pay 10 extra bucks for the gold edition then the guns are already unlocked but if you get regular you have to max out your level at 25 to unlock them. Either way you have to fill out some marketing survey to get the guns. You guys really need to stay in contact with Crescente

  12. shan6 says:

    Assuming that EA is really dropping this idea, they should still die in a fire.

  13. crabbyman6 says:

    The REALLY scary part of this is that the weapons are free money wise, but now you have to sign up for unspecified marketing offers to get them. That is unless you buy the more expensive Gold edition. I think I’d rather plunk down an extra $10 than get on countless marketing lists.

  14. Metropolis says:

    @swordfish2eva1: And if you read the above posts you’d realize that so are you.

  15. @crabbyman6: not exactly. the advertising stuff they are talking about is all the product placment EA loves to do, along with the potential for online, ingame directed marketing.

  16. nweaver says:

    Penny Arcade covered this well:

    [www.penny-arcade.com]

  17. mac-phisto says:

    @odhen:

    This is why I stick to PC gaming, you can’t get away with this kind of crap on the PC.

    Infinity Ward released new maps for the Xbox 360 version a few weeks ago, but nothing for the PC version. Presumably because they can’t figure out a way to make PC gamers pay for it.

    you’re kidding, right? can you say expansion pack? or how about steam download?

    either way, don’t waste your freaking money. 4 maps – one is a redux of a cod2 map, one is from the sp missions, one is absent from regular rotation (so that’s more like getting 3.25 maps) & one is brand new. $10 for 1 new map. YAY!

  18. Erwos says:

    Didn’t EA specifically say that the new weapons _wouldn’t_ give a competitive advantage?

    You guys would probably flip over the RMT so prevalent in Asian MMOs, methinks.

    Anyways, this post is extremely late, and the situation has changed considerably.

  19. crabbyman6 says:

    @valarmorghulis: Not from what the kotaku article says: “those will be available to everyone free of charge via various marketing promotions run by EA, along the lines of ‘Fill out this survey, get your gun code'”

    This sounds like more than just in-game advertising to me. You’ll probably have to put in at least your email address to get the codes too.

  20. dragonfire81 says:

    It might have been dropped this time.

    But companies are continually looking for ways to pull more money out of gamers pockets. This will not be an isolated incident. In fact more games will move in this direction in the future.

  21. parad0x360 says:

    This story is about 2 weeks old now and besides that EA has already changed their minds about the situation as of yesterday morning.

  22. armour says:

    I would pay for some of these because unlike some jobless turd that plays 18 hours a day I don;t always have the time to spend endless hours to play a game just for the sake of advancing. I fo you don’t have the ability to invist full time to a game some get down right fustrating and are destined for the trash because your chacter or what ever dosn’t advance and you don’t get more capabilities. Some of us have lives that involves more then playing 80 hours to get to level 25

  23. crabbyman6 says:

    @dragonfire81: I agree, but I don’t have to like it. This is a way for companies to continually make money off one product or IP without the massive investment in making a sequel. Does anyone know how much money Halo 3 made off their new map pack while it was still on sale EVEN THOUGH it was going to be free eventually?

  24. Beerad says:

    @armour: Gee, you sound like a lot of fun to play with.

  25. Counterpoint says:

    Isn’t this a free game? How else are they going to pay for bandwidth? Oh yeah, we’re in the time when people expect everything for free: downloadable music, tv shows, movies, games, programs, etc. Oh yeah, and if there’s any advertising in it or any pay-for-addons then we’ll be mad as hell!

    Also, no one is forcing anyone to play the game. If you don’t like their business plan, don’t play. Then you’ll teach them that it isn’t cool by their low “sales”.

    (all this is mostly moot, however, since EA caved)

  26. ep5760 says:

    Not that you really need to hear it but cmon Consumerist. If you’re gonna pickup a story from a sister site get the whole thing including where THIS IS DEAD AND OVER.

    Must be one boring day at Consumerist HQ.

  27. Imafish says:

    “the weapons for sale in Bad Company give the buyer a competitive advantage over other users, which sort of spoils multiplayer mode.”

    If it truly spoils the game, not many people will buy it, it will flop, and the problem will be solved. Can we move to an issue where a consumer is actually being screwed? Thanks.

  28. chrisjames says:

    @Counterpoint: “No one is forcing” is a poor standpoint. The argument is that this isn’t necessarily a big deal, but it highlights where the industry has been heading recently. What was that online animal game that was promised to be free forever and then quickly turned into a marketing cesspool with a premium service? The same thing happened there when they started selling things that benefited some players. It was outrageous, especially since it was designed for young people. If one does it and gets favorable results, they’ll all do it. Not because they’re all scammy, but because it’s bad business not to.

    I agree with you though. If they charge to play, then oh well, that’s nothing new at all. The play-as-you-wish console era destroyed arcades, which spawned the pay-to-play strategy (or was that the brothel). Now that developers can get into our homes with networked consoles, they can start pushing the coin-operated content again. I’m all for it, because I miss arcades something fierce. Online gaming doesn’t even come close to the social aspect of the arcade.

  29. The Count of Monte Fisto says:

    @mac-phisto: On the other hand, it beats playing Wet Work and Bog over and over. I’ll pay just because I’m bored with the base ones.

  30. TecmoTech says:

    EA: Buy Madden 09! Pay extra to use Peyton Manning or else your are stuck with Jim Sorgi!

  31. TheNinja256 says:

    Little late to the party this was cleared up days ago. Thank’s to the boycott by http://www.sarcasticgamer.com.

  32. smoothtom says:

    I don’t generally get too worked up over the “unfairness” of pricing structures of video games …

  33. MrEvil says:

    I love how EA continually repeats that unlockable and download only weapons offer no competitive advantage. I call shens on that. If any of you guys have played Battlefield 2142, you’ll know that the Voss Light Assault rifle is/was (I haven’t played since the 1.40 patch came out) the most broken unlock in the game. It had all the power of the base assault rifles AND got 10 extra rounds per magazine. The Baur H-AR was the other unlock, and while it was more powerful than the base AR’s it had a 20 round magazine and was worthless unless you kept it on single shot. Admittedly, the base assault rifle for PAC is quite useful.

    And don’t get me started on the P90 for Battlefield 2.

    If EA would stop trying to church it up and admit that unlocks and downloads give you a competitive advantage I really wouldn’t have a problem. I mean seriously speaking, why bother unlocking another gun when it’s no better than the one you have?

  34. Xmar says:

    Whole lotta confusion going on in this section.
    -‘Bad Company’ is a console only game. No PC version will be made according to EA. It will NOT be free.
    -‘Battlefield Heroes’ is another game by EA that is being made for the PC. It will be free to play, but will probably have the standard ‘free to play, but if you want access to upgrades, you have to pay’.
    -A video was released by a blogger that shows the stats on all the upgraded weapons in ‘Bad Company’. Some of the upgraded weapons were worse, some were slightly better, but none were super overpowered. Most just had slight changes. They can of course change the stats at anytime.
    -Battlefield 2142 & Battlefield 2 have unlocks that anyone can acquire for free by earning xp. BUT you do have to buy the expansion pack(s) to have the ability to ‘earn’ some of the weapons.

  35. Rask says:

    EA has backed off of the idea already and will be offering all weapons for free.

    [www.gamespot.com]

  36. Xmar says:

    Whole lotta confusion going on in this section.
    -‘Bad Company’ is a console only game. No PC version will be made according to EA. It will NOT be free.
    -‘Battlefield Heroes’ is another game by EA that is being made for the PC. It will be free to play, but will probably have the standard ‘free to play, but if you want access to upgrades, you have to pay’.
    -A video was released by a blogger that shows the stats on all the upgraded weapons in ‘Bad Company’. Some of the upgraded weapons were worse, some were slightly better, but none were super overpowered. Most just had slight changes. They can of course change the stats at anytime.
    -Battlefield 2142 & Battlefield 2 have unlocks that anyone can acquire for free by earning xp. BUT you do have to buy the expansion pack(s) to have the ability to ‘earn’ some of the weapons.

  37. Alex Chasick says:

    Sorry, everybody. I’ve added an update at the top.

  38. Raziel66 says:

    The funny thing is, the weapons available for purchase didn’t even give you an advantage. If you were in the Beta and could look at the weapons stats you would see these guns have roughly the same stats as the free ones. There is no advantage, just bragging rights to say “I have XXX weapon!!”.

  39. JackAshley says:

    Te thing about this game is that it is in fact a FREE game. You play it for free. They are paying for the game with advertising (both in-game and in the lobby). Then, you can purchase extras to improve yourself.

    Pretty chalky to complain about a free product, isnt it?

  40. mac-phisto says:

    @The Count of Monte Fisto: i hear you, man. i just wish they would have put a little more work into the pack – offered more original maps (or at least another 3 or 4 maps – even if each one is a redux). or, charge less. turok has its multiplayer map pack out for $5.

    i know why they did what they did, but it clearly puts them in the category of money-grubbing cash whore parasites instead of the “doing it for the peeps” types.

  41. armour says:

    @Beerad:

    Why do you say that? If I only able to play a couple hours per week should I be penalized for my game enjoyment and have my ass handed to me every time because some one can play 30 hours a week and has all the upgrades? Where is my enjoyment out of the gaming industry?

    I like playing game but I don’t like having to invest a disaportinate time in one just to keep up with other to enjoy it. With a business to run and kids I have other priorities in life then just gamming I’m not in high school any more with a load of free time.

    Some people are able to invest time other money what can’t there be a balance in that?

  42. Buran says:

    @Xmar: For BF2, my group just uses the Allied Intent Xtended mod. Much better gameplay for free – who says no one does anything just for the love of it anymore?

  43. Zimorodok says:

    @mac-phisto: Agreed. I regret purchasing the map pack. I enjoy the maps, but there’s certainly not a $10 value in them. 1 new map (Creek), 1 reskinned COD2 map (Chinatown), 1 hacked-up singleplayer map (Broadcast, which should have just been called “The Roof of Broadcast” ‘cuz that’s where everybody always is), and you can’t even call Killhouse a map. It’s barely larger than Shipment and looks like somebody threw it together in 3DSMAX while they were on hold with their bank waiting for the six-figure advance check from MSFT to clear.

    Worth $5? Sure. But $10? I got suckered.

  44. Serapis says:

    @armor, essentially when you pay for an advantage – you are cheating. Those who put in the required time and effort deserve the rewards they reap. The imbalance between time versus money is proportional to the greed of those you deal with (in anything, not just games).

    Many games give paying members perks that do not give an advantage, such as allowing changes in character appearance or wardrobe. However, when buyers are allowed to purchase what amounts to blatant cheating it unbalances the game. Look at the top players on almost any such game and you’ll notice a common trend, the top players paid for the privilege.

    However what EA did here doesn’t just unbalance the game. When you have to pay to unlock what should be standard configuration settings, that’s absurd!

  45. Beerad says:

    @armour: I say that not because your philosophy is necessarily flawed, but because Xbox Live chat is already a cesspool of insults, homophobia and useless babble and anyone who jumps out there accusing “jobless turds” of ruining the game is likely not improving the situation. That’s all.

    As an avid (although gainfully employed, real-world social-life-having, and not hardcore by any means) gamer, I understand and respect your position. That being said I still think I come down on the side of “game equality”, where everyone gets the same chance to make a go of it and those who are willing to put umpteen hours into the game (rarely me, btw) get rewarded accordingly.

  46. Elvisisdead says:

    Jesus. Cut the consumerist a break, and READ THE POSTS before repeating the same lame statement that multiple posters did before you. The thought only needs to be expressed once, unless you can add some insight.

    Like this: There is not significant crossover between the consumerist and gaming blogs. There isn’t. A crosslink to Kotaku may have been better, but this was an important comment on content providers holding back to get more profit. This story wouldn’t have gotten to the 95% of consumerist readers that aren’t gamers.

    It’s more and more common these days for companies to try and squeeze every last bit of revenue out of consumers through “add ons” and content that should be included in the core item. The hem and haw and talk about hitting more market segments, but it’s flat out producing sub standard material and then charging for what should be full functionality.

  47. Oracle989 says:

    @Elvisisdead: Add-on packs such as BF2142’s Northern Strike, BF2’s SF pack, and many more from other companies under the category of “expansion packs” are the best way of doing this today. But when consumers realize that they can cry all they want and the coporations won’t listen, they’ll shut up, and then we have pay per pixel games.

  48. gnubian says:

    Take a look at Hellgate:London (also an EA title).

    Single player offline mode doesn’t give you access to the “elite” classes or other perks .. If you play the multiplayer mode, you are expected to PAY $10/mo for the “additional” content.

  49. matto says:

    @gnubian: So you’d rather everything was free then? Sounds great to me. Where do the developers sign up for the free food and rent?

  50. Trai_Dep says:

    @armour: don’t whine simply because you’ve fallen out of the gamer demographic. :)