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James Francis
08 Oct, 2004

Binge & Purge: Money! Money! Money!

PALGN Feature | THQ wants your money and it's all good - unless you actually already paid for the game. Think publishers really care? I think some will sell your mother in packaging if they could...
“All propaganda is a lie even when it’s telling the truth." I like George Orwell’s quote, partly because I firmly believe that regarding anything from a large, powerful source as a lie is a good middle ground, because the truth does eventually come out if you aren’t willing to accept everything as such. But the ethos behind it is even truer – don’t trust the big guys. Always read the fine print. And never, ever think that you mean a thing to a company other than being part of the profit. No matter what their customer ads say, you’re only as valuable an asset as their stocks go up.

But I’m not off to join anti-globalisation activists just yet. It’s just a matter of looking at these things in a sober fashion. The corporation is, after all, a psychopath.

There’s a point here and it’s THQ selling off the formerly free content for Full Spectrum Warrior. At $5 a pop (or $4.99, if you want the haggle semantics) you can get the additional content that comes with the PC version of the game anyway. Now, I’m not a Live subscriber and I’m glad I can clutch my copy of the game and run home to my PC to play. But it must really be a downer for any poor sap who paid for the Xbox Live subscription, full price for the game and is now expected to cough up $5 for additional content, especially when it was originally touted as free. And there’s another pack coming out, also at the cheap, cheap price of $5 (not so cheap, since that was also supposed to be, well, free).

Do this in the PC market and you have a riot. PC gamers simply won’t stand for it or not support it. And I thought console culture was finally onto the right idea: nothing says ‘Thank You’ quite like free content. But no, THQ has to make more money, even though I’m pretty sure Full Spectrum Warrior massaged their profit margin quite nicely.

It gets better – now Ubisoft want to do the same thing with Rainbow Six content. When I first read about THQ’s shenanigans I wondered who would follow suit, since there is no way this would be a one-off event, unless it ended up being financially stupid. Sadly, $5 isn’t that much and gamers would pay that for the extra content, but let’s not lose focus: the stuff was supposed to be free.

Microsoft has been very quiet on the matter; a pity since they are the ones who can enforce a bit more policy here. It might be a bit worrying to have companies tell publishers what to do, but EA has been getting away with it for a while now and nothing has broken just yet. The real issue is what if such a software giant decides to charge for extra content? Who exactly will tell EA to take a long walk off a short, shark-surrounded pier if they want to charge us $5 a pop for new Burnout 3 content? Not Microsoft – that’s for sure.

This is wrong, people. Very, very wrong and I’ll always eye THQ with a certain level of disgust, because they are prying open a chamber of Pandora’s cash box we certainly can do without. Don’t tell me they need the money: if your final product can’t make you returns, then maybe you’re doing something else wrong. It’s the equivalent of paying extra for the interviews now common on DVDs.

Related Full Spectrum Warrior Content

Full Spectrum Warrior Review
08 Jul, 2004 What do you get when you mix a real time strategy game with a squad-based shooter? Full Spectrum Warrior.
Full Spectrum Warrior Preview
30 Nov, 2003 Hands on Impressions of the game based on early code.
Full Spectrum Warrior Review
09 Apr, 2005 Pandemic's squad-based strategy game hits the PS2.
6 Comments
9 years ago
I'm in two minds about this issue. I'm fine with paying $5-10 if its actually decent content that has been fully well designed and tested. The average gamer will pay $50 (on PC) for an expansion pack, which is essentially a giant content package, isn't that much the same? Look at Splinter Cell 2's new levels. Obviously thought went into these new levels and I believe it is worth the $10 price of admission. But its certainly has not impeded on those you did not wish to buy in terms of playing online. The problem which I agree with is when companies start trying to palm off "nothing" extras at a price. If I ever was to pay for a buggy meaningless add-on, I certainly would be dirty. It’s certainly a grey area, and your article does highlight excellent points. Great food for thought.
9 years ago
how much extra content is in these packs?

i would feel very ripped off if it were only a level or 2 (depending on the size of the levels), but i would probably pay $5 if it were a decent size extra...

it does suck that it was advertised as free and then they turn around and charge you for it though... although this does allow you to take it up with the ACCC as it is false advertising (i don't know the exact details, you'll have to look into this)

expansion packs for PC games seem to becoming a rare thing, i know the COD expansion has come out, but there was a time when every FPS and RTS game would have 1, 2 or even more expansions... but now they seem to be releasing a new game (UT2K4 for example)... i guess the storyline of games nowadays doesn't really lend itself to expansions...

mind you, many PC games now have either Mods, TCs or free downloadable content, so maybe the need for expansion packs are dying off because people are able to get content that is just as good for free...

whatever the reason, food for thought indeed...

and check into whether THQ have the right to charge given it was advertised for free... gamers somewhere will thank you if it is wrong...
9 years ago
I don't think there are any legal grounds to fault THQ on - it's more the principle of it. Why charge for content that could have been free? I sincerely feel that if a company can afford to give away a few extra levels as a means to thanks you for buying their game, they should. But now they are just cashing in on the trend.

It makes sense on a business level, but I don't play games because I want to be involved in business. and I don't think we should take it every time the industry tries to milk us for money.

Btw, PC games normally cost around $50. An expanion costs between $20- $30 depending - and you get a lot out of it, including engine upgtrades, more MP maps, extra SP campaigns...
9 years ago
in Australia a full PC game (and console games for that matter) are around $100 and expansions are between $30 and $60 depending on what you get...

i don't really consider engine upgrades a content of expansion packs since the patch for this upgrade is usually downloadable for free... and as i said, we're kinda spoiled for choice for free MP and SP maps, some might not be worth playing, but others certainly are... quite a few games also have this official (or at the very least, officially endorsed) content dl-able for free too...

i actually didn't see you aren't Australian (or rather i forgot) but if they have advertised here that the content was going to be free (or more importantly, someone can prove it happened), and then it has to be paid for, we have avenues to see whether a breach in advertising has occurred... it was just a thought...
9 years ago
True. My lashback is really jsut about what's at stake here. For instance, what would have happened if Vavle decided all mods on the HL engine should carry a small fee? Not going to happen.

What would change my mind on the topic is if someone can demonstrate how this isn't a case of THQ milking money out of people when they don't need to.

Alas, I can't despise them completely They have Dawn of War Stalker, Detroy All Humans and now Juiced.
9 years ago
well, you can buy the mods for halflife separately (well, Day of Defeat, Team Fortress and CounterStrike (not CZ, normal CS) i have seen as separate sale items to the game itself), i've never seen the point since you'd need to connect and update them as soon as you got home anyway...

you're right though, for some reason people stand for it on console where they would never on PC... maybe it's because console online is still in it's infancy and people are still getting the hang of it... it's still in the honeymoon phase and people don't realise they're being hoodwinked...
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  THQ
Developer:
  Pandemic Studios
Players:
  1-2

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