Square Enix Addresses Complaints about iOS Game Pricing

October 9, 2012 -

Anyone that has ever bought or considered buying a Square Enix game on a mobile platform has come to call its pricing the "Square Enix Tax." In other words, if you want to play a game like Final Fantasy Tactics on the iPad or iPhone, you're going to have to pay a premium price to have that privilege. Hardcore Square Enix fans begrudgingly accept this, but they are also vocal about it too.

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Netflix Begins Enforcing Concurrent Stream Limits

September 7, 2011 -

Netflix has had rules in place for a very long time about sharing streaming accounts but it has been pretty lazy in enforcing them... until now. According to a Tech Crunch report, the streaming media service began sending out messages to streamers over the weekend who were using an account at the same time someone else in their circle of friends or family was using it. To paraphrase, the basic message was "you are already streaming (and over the limit) of your account elsewhere."

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Namco Bandai VP: Games Too Expensive

May 20, 2010 -

Namco Bandai Partners Vice President Olivier Comte has called for a worldwide summit of game companies in order to address the price of games and to explore new business models.

Speaking to MCV, Comte noted that other types of media have more than one way to procure income; music has physical media sales and live events, while movies are similar, with disc-based offerings in addition to the cinema. Games, meanwhile, “… just have one model, the sale of the product either as a box or a digital download. So we need to think about how we can develop a secondary business model.”

Comte continued:

I am convinced that in the future we must change the price of video games – they’re too expensive for the audience. With the cost of development and the retail margins, £40 (approximately $58.00 U.S.) is a fair price [to us], but for the consumer it is too much.

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Xbox 360 Owners to Pay $7 for L4D DLC that PC Gamers Get For Free

September 9, 2009 -

Usually, it's the PC crowd that gets dissed by game publishers. But in the case at hand Valve is doing right by computer gamers while Microsoft seems intent upon squeezing the last nickel out of Xbox 360 owners.

At issue is Crash Course,  a bit of DLC for the popular zombie shooter Left 4 Dead. Valve, which doesn't charge for DLC, plans to give Crash Course away to PC players. Meanwhile MS will be nicking 360 gamers $7 for the download.

Not that he has any explaining to do (although MS does), but Valve's Chet Faliszek told Eurogamer why it's happening this way:

We own our platform, Steam. Microsoft owns their platform. They wanted to make sure there's an economy of value there...

Via: The Consumerist

89 comments

Another Used Game Whiner: Eidos Boss

August 20, 2009 -

Eidos president Ian Livingstone (left) is the latest game industry exec to complain about used game sales.

The BBC spoke to Livingstone about the issue. Here are the Eidos exec's comments:

The pre-owned market is a serious problem, because there is no benefit to developers or publishers...

A shop makes a bigger margin on a pre-owned title, and can sell them six or seven times, so there is no incentive for them to reorder and the content creator gets no slice of the action.

GP: "No slice of the action," of course, is the operative phrase in Livingstone's mini-rant.

Frankly, I have no sympathy for the industry's used game whiners and even less when I remember that digital distribution is inching ever closer. When that happens, the publishers will be in the driver's seat.

Enjoy your used game savings while you can.

Via: gi.biz

Angry Gamers Considering Activision Boycott

August 9, 2009 -

Activision Blizzard, the world's largest video game publisher, has been raising the ire of many gamers of late. So much so, in fact, that there is at least preliminary talk of a boycott of Activision products.

So what has the publisher done to create so much ill will?

A few things, actually.

UK gamers are incensed over Activision's plan to price the upcoming Modern Warfare 2 at £54.99 (roughly US$90). Wedbush-Morgan analyst Michael Pachter ominously described the move as a trial run for Activision:

Activision knows it has a 'hot' game, knows that the market will pay an additional 10 per cent, and has decided to increase price accordingly.

Game consumers are also concerned about Activision's pricing plans for specialty controllers for the upcoming Tony Hawk: Ride and DJ Hero.

Adding gasoline to the fire was a recent comment by Activision Blizzard CEO. During an earnings call last week, Kotick said:

You know if it was left to me, I would raise the prices even further.

PS3 News reports that some gamers are planning a boycott and links to an online petition which has garnered nearly 5,000 signatures to date. From the petition:

You're increasingly making your fanbase more angry. Your recent moves on the business side are head scratching and completely apauling [sic]. Tony Hawk peripherals to start, PC and UK price hikes and ridiculously overpriced collectors editions for MW2... Than [sic] your CEO decided to further anger your customers... I believe we are in what we call a "recession." What the consumer needs is not more expensive items, but less expensive...

UPDATE: Activision boss Kotick made $15 million last year, reports gamesindustry.biz. You keep raising those prices, Bobby...

Economist: EA's Madden Monopoly Cost Gamers Up To $926 Million

July 14, 2009 -

A University of Michigan economics professor estimates that Electronic Arts collectively overcharged Madden buyers between $701 million and $926 million during the years 2006 through 2009.

Dr. Jeffrey MacKie-Mason made his claim in a document filed last week with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Mackie-Mason was brought into the case as an expert witness by attorneys representing Geoffrey Pecover and Jeffrey Lawrence. The pair of gamers are named plaintiffs in a class-action suit alleging that EA used its exclusive licensing deal with the NFL to eliminate Take Two Interactive's competing NFL 2K series. The suit charges that EA then exploited the resulting competitive vacuum to dramatically raise the retail price of Madden.

While MacKie-Mason acknowledges that his estimates are based on incomplete data, he writes:

I provide this information for the limited purpose of allowing the Court to assess in rough terms the burden on Electronic Arts in relation to the magnitude of potential damages... Under California's antitrust statute, it is my understanding that these damages would be trebled.

MacKie-Mason arrived at the eye-popping figures using an estimated overcharge percentage that ranged from 50% to 66% for the 30.04 million units of Madden sold during the 2006-2009. He writes:

When Take-Two was able to compete unhindered, Madden NFL's competitive price was in the range of $19.95 to $29.95. I assume for this exercise that these would have been Madden's prices but for the alleged [monopolistic] acts.

Based on Mackie-Mason's estimate, attorneys for the plaintiffs have requested additional data for Madden sales going back to 2001. In a response, attorneys for EA agreed to supply as many of the requested documents as they could locate, but were unsparing in their assessment of Mackie-Mason's analysis:

EA respectfully submits that Dr. MacKie-Mason's analysis is fundamentally flawed on multiple levels. Indeed, Dr. MacKie-Mason's estimated magnitude of damages is nothing more than pure fiction - it has no basis in fact or law...

As GamePolitics reported last month, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the plaintiffs' monopoly suit could go forward, but limited the scope of the case to claims arising in California and Washington, D.C. where Pecover and Lawrence reside.

DOCUMENT DUMP: Read Dr. MacKie-Mason's estimate here... Read EA's response here...

ECA Pleased To See Time Warner Back Down on Price-Gouging Bandwidth Caps

April 17, 2009 -

Consumers won a big victory this week as Time Warner Cable backed down on a plan that would have placed a cap on bandwidth usage for broadband customers, while at the same time charging users a wildly inflated price per gigabyte.

When Time Warner announced recently that it would expand its broadband caps into New York and North Carolina, Ars Technica reports that the plan immediately ran afoul of Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The two lawmakers helped torpedo Time Warner's scheme.

The Entertainment Consumers Association, which also lobbied vigorously against the Time-Warner plan, was delighted with the cable provider's decision to back down. ECA VP and General Counsel Jennifer Mercurio commented on the outcome:

We're pleased that Time Warner has come to their senses on this issue... Having worked against caps and tiered pricing for over a year, and being the leading consumer rights organization to aggressively defend the American public on this issue, we're glad to see our efforts pay off even as we continue to work with Senator Schumer, Congressman Massa, and others to stop this type of consumer price gauging moving forward.

When Mercurio mentions price gouging, she's not kidding. Price comparison done by Nate Anderson of Ars Technica show how blatantly Time Warner planned to rip off its customers:

As TWC expands its test markets for the data caps, it offers plans with 5GB of monthly data transfer for $30. Plans with 40GB of data go for $55... That base rate works out to a truly jaw-dropping $6 per GB per month, and it's so far out of line with competitors' plans as to shock even the most cynical heart.

Take AT&T's DSL, for comparison... AT&T DSL comes out to 9¢ per GB. Verizon's fiber-optic FiOS system... this comes out to $.11 per GB. Upgrading to the much faster 50Mbps service for $144.95 a month still means that the charge per GB is only 36¢.

The situation is similar at other cable operators. Comcast offers Internet service starting at $42.95 per month and has a 250GB cap in place; this works out to 17¢ per GB.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.

31 comments

Nintendo's Reggie: Used Games Aren't In Consumer's Best Interest

April 2, 2009 -

Spending extra money is good for consumers. Especially if they spend it on Nintendo products...

That seems to be the message from Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, who offered these rather amazing comments to Venture Beat's Dean Takahashi:

VB: Used games are coming up as a big issue again. Why?

RFA: ... We don’t believe used games are in the best interest of the consumer. We have products that consumers want to hold onto... We believe used games aren’t in the consumer’s best interest. [GP: What kind of answer is that? Commendably, Dean calls him on it...]

VB: Because?

RFA: Describe another form of entertainment that has a vibrant used goods market. Used books have never taken off. You don’t see businesses selling used music CDs or used DVDs. Why? The consumer likes having a brand-new experience and reliving it over and over again. If you create the right type of experience, that also happens in video games. [GP: Does Reggie get out of the rarified air of the executive suite much? Used books, movies and CDs are widely available.]

VB: Could this be rectified if the retailers share some of that used game revenue with the publishers?

RFA: That could make it more palatable. But we just think it’s a bad idea... [GP: Here's the big reveal as to where Reggie is coming from. Used games are a bad idea, but not AS bad if Nintendo gets a slice of the action. Please...]

T2 Whines About Used Games - a Day After Industry Touts Record Sales

January 29, 2009 -

Can someone explain this to me?

Wasn't it just yesterday that video game industry trade group the Entertainment Software Association issued a press release high-fiving itself over record sales of game software in 2008?

Why then, today, do we learn that GTA publisher Take-Two Interactive is griping about used game sales?

Here's what the ESA said yesterday about its record-breaking year:

Overall computer and video game industry hardware, software and peripheral sales climbed to $22 billion in 2008, with entertainment software sales comprising $11.7 billion of that total figure—a 22.9% jump over the previous year— the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced today... on the strength of a December sales month in which industry revenue ($5.3 billion) topped $5 billion for the first time in any single month. By comparison, as recently as 1997, the industry generated $5.1 billion over the entire year...

And here's T2 CEO Ben Feder (left) whining (via Cowen analyst Doug Creutz) today:

"GameStop continues to aggressively push their used game business, which is having a meaningful negative impact on sales of new games," noted analyst Doug Creutz, following a meeting with Take-Two CEO Ben Feder this week.

"Management is frustrated with this trend and is examining ways to ameliorate the problem, which includes strategies around online play and downloadable content which extend the lifespan of AAA titles."

GP: We have to ask: how "meaningful" can the supposed "negative impact" of used game sales be with game publishers having just completed their best year ever?

Or, is this another case of a greedy media corporation trying to squeeze every last nickel out of its customers?

UPDATE: I should make it clear that "whining" is my characterization of Ben Feder's position. Doug Creutz merely reports on Feder's concerns in an investor's note detailing his Tuesday meeting with the T2 CEO.

 
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Sora-ChanI realize that they have ways getting around it, but one reason might be due to earthquakes.04/17/2014 - 4:42am
Matthew WilsonSF is a tech/ economic/ trade center it should be mostly tail building. this whole problem is because of the lack of tail buildings. How would having tail apartment buildings destroy SF? having tail buildings has not runed other cities around the US/world04/16/2014 - 10:51pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the issue is you can not build upwards anywhere in SF at the moment, and no you would not. You would bring prices to where they should have been before the market distortion. those prices are not economic or socially healthy.04/16/2014 - 10:46pm
ZippyDSMleeYou still wind up pushing people out of the non high rise aeras but tis least damage you can do all things considered.04/16/2014 - 10:26pm
ZippyDSMleeANd by mindlessly building upward you make it like every place else hurting property prices,ect,ect. You'll have to slowly segment the region into aeras where you will never build upward then alow some aeras to build upward.04/16/2014 - 10:25pm
Matthew WilsonSF have to build upwards they have natural growth limits. they can not grow outwards. ps growing outwards is terable just look at Orlando or Austin for that.04/16/2014 - 4:15pm
ZippyDSMleeIf they built upward then it would becoem like every other place making it worthless, if they don't build upward they will price people out making it worthless, what they need to do is a mix of things not just one exstreme or another.04/16/2014 - 4:00pm
Matthew Wilsonyou know the problem in SF was not the free market going wrong right? it was government distortion. by not allowing tall buildings to be build they limited supply. that is not free market.04/16/2014 - 3:48pm
ZippyDSMleeOh gaaa the free market is a lie as its currently leading them to no one living there becuse they can not afford it makign it worthless.04/16/2014 - 3:24pm
Matthew WilsonIf you have not read http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/04/introducing-steam-gauge-ars-reveals-steams-most-popular-games/ you should. It is a bit stats heavy, but worth the read.04/16/2014 - 2:04pm
Matthew Wilsonthe issue is when is doesn't work it can screw over millions in new york city's case. more often than not it is better to let the free market run its course without market distortion.04/16/2014 - 9:36am
NeenekoTrue, and overdone stagnation is a problem. It is a tricky balance. It does not help that when it does work, no one notices. Most people here have benifited from rent controls and not even realized it.04/16/2014 - 9:23am
ZippyDSMleehttp://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2014/04/15/riaa_files_civil_suit_against_megaupload04/16/2014 - 8:48am
ZippyDSMleeEither way you get stagnation as people can not afford the prices they set.04/16/2014 - 8:47am
Neenekowell, specifically it helps people already living there and hurts people who want to live there instead. As for 'way more hurt', majorities generally need less legal protection. yes it hurt more people then it helped, it was written for a minority04/16/2014 - 8:30am
MaskedPixelantehttp://torrentfreak.com/square-enix-drm-boosts-profits-and-its-here-to-stay-140415/ Square proves how incredibly out of touch they are by saying that DRM is the way of the future, and is here to stay.04/16/2014 - 8:29am
james_fudgeUnwinnable Weekly Telethon playing Metal Gear http://www.twitch.tv/rainydayletsplay04/16/2014 - 8:06am
ConsterTo be fair, there's so little left of the middle class that those numbers are skewing.04/16/2014 - 7:42am
Matthew Wilsonyes it help a sub section of the poor, but hurt both the middle and upper class. in the end way more people were hurt than helped. also, it hurt most poor people as well.04/16/2014 - 12:13am
SeanBJust goes to show what I have said for years. Your ability to have sex does not qualify you for parenthood.04/15/2014 - 9:21pm
 

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