Is it fair to charge for the same content twice?

While we have seen some ridiculous attempts at DLC milking during this console generation (ie. Horse Armor in Oblivion, download-only cheats in Madden 10, and Avatar Clothing on XBLM), up until recently we hadn't seen much in the way of games forcing you to pay for old or previously-owned content just to get at some new goodies. Sadly, two upcoming games are set to break that mold -- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 'Ultimate Sith Edition' and Halo 3: ODST.
 
If you haven't already heard -- LucasArts recently announced a new 'Ultimate Sith Edition' of last year's hit, The Force Unleashed. The re-release of the game contains the entire original TFU experience, plus the all of the DLC additions to the game that are currently available on XBLM and PSN. In addition, it contains a brand new (non-canon) bonus level that has Vader's Secret Apprentice tracking down and eventually confronting the one and only Luke Skywalker on Hoth. Sounds like a good deal, right? Well it certainly is a great value, provided you were one of those who missed out on the game a year ago. But for someone who has already payed for the game, and perhaps some or all of the DLC, it probably isn't a worthwhile investment. Those customers already own most of the game's content, and probably don't have any reason to pick up the new version. Except...
 
That awesome-sounding Hoth bonus mission that comes with the game? Yeah, that's ONLY available to those who purchase the 'Ultimate Sith Edition' in all its glory. LucasArts isn't making it available as DLC, or releasing it in any standalone form. So what does that mean for those dedicated fans who bought the game on Day 1 (at full price, no less), and shelled-out additional money to buy the various DLC that the game has received post-launch? It means that those loyal fans are essentially forced to pay for all of that content for a second time if they just want to get their hands on a piece of new content that could (and should) be released as DLC and for a reasonable price. Instead of catering to the faithful customers who helped to make TFU the fastest-selling Star Wars game ever, LucasArts has instead elected to use those customers' loyalty to the game as a way to squeeze some extra money out of them.
 
The other game "dropping" this holiday season that takes advantage of its dedicated customers to generate some extra money is Halo 3: ODST. Full disclosure -- I'm a big Halo fan. I'm of the opinion that Halo: CE is the single greatest console FPS ever created, and although I'm pretty disappointed with the direction that the series ( specifically the multiplayer) has taken over the years, I still manage to log a few games of Halo 3 online every week. Being the big Halo fan that I am, I bought Halo 3 at 12 AM on September 25th, 2007, and have purchased all of the subsequently released DLC map packs on the day of their release. In total, I've invested $30 into Halo 3 post-release content so that I can continue enjoying all of the available online playlists and continue to have some fresh maps to play. I still enjoy my time with Halo 3 (for the most part) and I consider my investment in the three map packs released thus far to be money well spent, but...
 
I want to play Midship again. I pity those of you who never played Halo 2 and never experienced this joy of a map. A perfectly balanced, close-quarters arena that demands the utmost in skill from its players, Midship is easily my favorite shooter map of all time. As a fan of MLG and as a former tournament player, I fondly remember spending hours upon hours just playing FFAs with friends on the map, and never tiring of it. Thankfully for myself and other fans, the map has been re-made by Bungie and is being released with ODST as "Heretic." Now, being a Halo fan, I already had plans to purchase ODST; therefore, I'm not too troubled that Heretic won't be released in a DLC pack like the other maps that Bungie has created for Halo 3 post-launch. I am upset, though, that I'm being charged full price for ODST, when I already own a significant portion of the content included with the game. For those who aren't aware, ODST comes in two disks. The first disk contains the new Campaign and Firefight, and the second disk contains the entire Halo 3 multiplayer experience, with all of the previously released DLC and 3 new maps (including the Midship remake). 
 
That package sounds like a pretty good deal for $60, assuming the potential customer never touched Halo 3. Dedicated fans of the game, on the other hand, are forking over cash for content that they've already purchased. Part of Microsoft's explanation for the game's price-point in the wake of the E3 announcement was that the inclusion of the full multiplayer mode and all of the available DLC made ODST worth more than a typical expansion pack. In reality, they just know full well that people like myself (who were already planning on buying ODST and really want to get in on some Middy-action in Halo 3) would be willing to pay full price for the game even though it has duplicate content.
 
It is my sincere hope that these two examples remain as outliers, and that this type of "forced repayment" for old content in order to receive new content never catches on. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that we'll be seeing it more often in the future, especially since both ODST and TFU: USE will likely be very successful at retail. Anyone else worried that this will become commonplace in the future, or am I complaining/worrying needlessly?

21 Comments
22 Comments
Posted by Fosssil

While we have seen some ridiculous attempts at DLC milking during this console generation (ie. Horse Armor in Oblivion, download-only cheats in Madden 10, and Avatar Clothing on XBLM), up until recently we hadn't seen much in the way of games forcing you to pay for old or previously-owned content just to get at some new goodies. Sadly, two upcoming games are set to break that mold -- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 'Ultimate Sith Edition' and Halo 3: ODST.
 
If you haven't already heard -- LucasArts recently announced a new 'Ultimate Sith Edition' of last year's hit, The Force Unleashed. The re-release of the game contains the entire original TFU experience, plus the all of the DLC additions to the game that are currently available on XBLM and PSN. In addition, it contains a brand new (non-canon) bonus level that has Vader's Secret Apprentice tracking down and eventually confronting the one and only Luke Skywalker on Hoth. Sounds like a good deal, right? Well it certainly is a great value, provided you were one of those who missed out on the game a year ago. But for someone who has already payed for the game, and perhaps some or all of the DLC, it probably isn't a worthwhile investment. Those customers already own most of the game's content, and probably don't have any reason to pick up the new version. Except...
 
That awesome-sounding Hoth bonus mission that comes with the game? Yeah, that's ONLY available to those who purchase the 'Ultimate Sith Edition' in all its glory. LucasArts isn't making it available as DLC, or releasing it in any standalone form. So what does that mean for those dedicated fans who bought the game on Day 1 (at full price, no less), and shelled-out additional money to buy the various DLC that the game has received post-launch? It means that those loyal fans are essentially forced to pay for all of that content for a second time if they just want to get their hands on a piece of new content that could (and should) be released as DLC and for a reasonable price. Instead of catering to the faithful customers who helped to make TFU the fastest-selling Star Wars game ever, LucasArts has instead elected to use those customers' loyalty to the game as a way to squeeze some extra money out of them.
 
The other game "dropping" this holiday season that takes advantage of its dedicated customers to generate some extra money is Halo 3: ODST. Full disclosure -- I'm a big Halo fan. I'm of the opinion that Halo: CE is the single greatest console FPS ever created, and although I'm pretty disappointed with the direction that the series ( specifically the multiplayer) has taken over the years, I still manage to log a few games of Halo 3 online every week. Being the big Halo fan that I am, I bought Halo 3 at 12 AM on September 25th, 2007, and have purchased all of the subsequently released DLC map packs on the day of their release. In total, I've invested $30 into Halo 3 post-release content so that I can continue enjoying all of the available online playlists and continue to have some fresh maps to play. I still enjoy my time with Halo 3 (for the most part) and I consider my investment in the three map packs released thus far to be money well spent, but...
 
I want to play Midship again. I pity those of you who never played Halo 2 and never experienced this joy of a map. A perfectly balanced, close-quarters arena that demands the utmost in skill from its players, Midship is easily my favorite shooter map of all time. As a fan of MLG and as a former tournament player, I fondly remember spending hours upon hours just playing FFAs with friends on the map, and never tiring of it. Thankfully for myself and other fans, the map has been re-made by Bungie and is being released with ODST as "Heretic." Now, being a Halo fan, I already had plans to purchase ODST; therefore, I'm not too troubled that Heretic won't be released in a DLC pack like the other maps that Bungie has created for Halo 3 post-launch. I am upset, though, that I'm being charged full price for ODST, when I already own a significant portion of the content included with the game. For those who aren't aware, ODST comes in two disks. The first disk contains the new Campaign and Firefight, and the second disk contains the entire Halo 3 multiplayer experience, with all of the previously released DLC and 3 new maps (including the Midship remake). 
 
That package sounds like a pretty good deal for $60, assuming the potential customer never touched Halo 3. Dedicated fans of the game, on the other hand, are forking over cash for content that they've already purchased. Part of Microsoft's explanation for the game's price-point in the wake of the E3 announcement was that the inclusion of the full multiplayer mode and all of the available DLC made ODST worth more than a typical expansion pack. In reality, they just know full well that people like myself (who were already planning on buying ODST and really want to get in on some Middy-action in Halo 3) would be willing to pay full price for the game even though it has duplicate content.
 
It is my sincere hope that these two examples remain as outliers, and that this type of "forced repayment" for old content in order to receive new content never catches on. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that we'll be seeing it more often in the future, especially since both ODST and TFU: USE will likely be very successful at retail. Anyone else worried that this will become commonplace in the future, or am I complaining/worrying needlessly?

Posted by Oni

I agree on TFU, Lucas are really screwing over the fans and early adopters and it's pretty much a slap in the face. ODST it's slightly more acceptable, though I suppose that depends on how long ODST's campaign is and how much you think that, and the few Firefight maps, are worth. But Microsoft's reasoning that it's worth more because of the Halo 3 stuff does seem to indicate that it would be cheaper without it, so I see where you're coming from.
 
It sucks, but the best thing to do is vote with your wallet. Obviously you're gonna buy ODST and I don't blame you, but no one who already owns TFU should buy it again for one bit of bonus content we should get as DLC.

Posted by Damian

I'm not a fan of screwing over early adopters, and dedicated customers. But there is something to be said for the amount of time you've already enjoyed a game. That doesn't excuse the company's swindly content-juggling. But the fact remains that you've already got your money's worth, and probably shouldn't complain too much, except for maybe the principle. 

This issue just confuses me though. I thought the industry was attempting to use DLC to help prevent their ass-rapage via the trade-in industry. Why would they do something like this that seems to be in favour of trading in your old stuff? Not to mention the more publishers do this stuff, the more I find myself tempted to just wait for these "ultimate editions" before spending a cent on games I know are likely to have a lot of DLC.

Posted by Jeust

I'm not buying... that is for sure. 
 
I didn't like the first dlc for the TFU, and because of this tactic i'll probably never touch the two new packs.  
 
The story is ludicrous, and even if the second one is made available for download, charging 800 points (10$) for each new level is expensive.  
 
I've experienced all i wanted for the star wars force unleashed.

Posted by JJWeatherman

I have something to say that is kinda sorta on topic, lol. Anyways I have always thought that songs bought through the Rock Band Store or for Guitar Hero or whatever should come with an MP3 file included to put on your MP3 player of choice. I mean we are playing $2 for a track here, I don't like having to pay another $1 to be able to listen to it while not playing the game. I'm no expert on how song licensing works by any means but if Harmonix could work out a deal to include something like that, I think it would lead to a lot more DLC being purchased and more happy customers.

Posted by HolyCrapItsAdam

these types of games are for the people like me who don't purchase DLC because I think DLC is a terrible idea and a way for companies to screw their customer over by not taking the extra development time and just including it in the original release copy. I am glad that the companies make this "special" copies of their games so I can get the full experience and I didn't have to pay an extra $30+ to do so. I plan on purchasing Halo: ODST so I can play all of the gametypes and levels again since I am currently unable to do so and I also plan on buying Fallout 3: GOTY since I only rented it and this way I get all of the DLC also for 60 bucks where as other people have payed 60 for the game plus another 50 for the DLC.

Posted by Suicrat
@Fosssil: It is high time people stop misusing the verb "to force".
 
YOU are making the decision to purchase it, and they are including it for FREE to those who don't have the content. If they took it out, then other people would be bitching about how it's half a game for full price.
 
You are not forced to buy anything. Not Forced Unleash Sith Edition, and not Halo 3 ODST, if you don't think they're worth 60, then don't be the kind of retard who buys the shit on day one. You keep on saying how people who buy stuff at launch end up getting "screwed", yet you keep on doing it! The signal you're sending to publishers by giving them your money is that you like it that way, they don't hear you complaining, they only see your dollars. So if you don't like it, don't give them money. Don't come on some forums bitching about being "forced" because there's no coercion here whatsoever, pal.
Edited by Symphony

I remember when Persona 3 FES ticked off a lot of people who had bought Persona 3 when it was first released, as FES offered the original game AND another 30+ hours of content and continuation of the story. Sure people who pre-ordered or got Persona 3 when it was first released got an artbook, but that was little consolation for having to buy the game again to get the Answer. I suppose the blow was softened by the fact that game was only $30, so you weren't paying some outrageous price for it...
 
FFX saw a similar thing happen with FFX International Edition (it was quietly released in limited quantities in the west), offering new side-quests and the Dark Aeons. 
 
Virtua Fighter 4 also did a similar thing when it hit Greatest Hits status, releasing it under the name Virtua Figher 4: Evolution, offering two new characters and a ton of extras, such as an item store and an improved anti-aliasing mode.
 
The Metal Gear series is also pretty notorious for this -- MGS 2 had "Substance" a version that offered the original game plus extras such as VR missions, while MGS 3 had "Subsistance" which had things like a multiplayer mode, improved camera, and versions of the first two MGS's.
 
Then there's Ninja Gaiden coming out with Black edition which offered a mission mode, more costumes, more difficulty levels, etc. 
 
The list goes on and on... so yeah, while it's a pain in the ass for people who purchased the original edition of a game that sees a re-release with extra content, it's unfortunately nothing new.

Posted by KamasamaK

No, but life's not fair. Maybe in an ideal world you would get a discount or something for redundant purchases.

Posted by Khann

Meh?

Posted by Sabata

Can you really call The Force Unleashed a "hit"? 
 
P.S. Midship was fucking terrible and MLG is for losers.  

Posted by Fallen189

Nobodys making you buy it.

Posted by MrSnow

My friend told me that soul calber 4 For the xbox had Yoda and for the ps3 had Darth Vader And even though it was already on the disc you had to pay for the one frome the consol you didnt have by downloading a code.
 Dont shoot the messenger.
 
I loved Fable 2 but i thought that the DLC knothole ilsland and whatnot should of been free from the beginning.
Still an awesome game, Play it a shit load.

Posted by crunchUK

ODST, considering you actually get a new campaign, a new "multiplayer" (firefight), AND mythic 2 (whereas TFU is pretty much the same game) is hardly a swindle. The other maps are on disk for those who haven't bought them. If you were to get mythic 2 only, who would buy them then? Essentially, they're "free" with ODST. Just like how the halo 2 map packs were all free after a few months or so. You paid to get them before, not to get them full stop.  And considering legendary has been out for over a year now, you've paid for more than you would have back then, so to speak.
 
I see what you mean though, Bungie has cleverly made sure that EVERY halo player will buy ODST. I don't think it's a swindle though, it's just sneaky marketing.

Posted by Zereta

I think your problems with ODST is valid. I too, am a huge Halo fan, and I too have bought all the map packs. But, like you said, i'm pretty sure it designed for the potential general consumer, who has never touched a Halo game before, or has not touched Halo 3 before. Like you said its a steal for those people, but for hardcore fans like us, I guess its kinda like selling us short. 
 
For me personally, I get why such a decision was made and even though its kinda like a smack in the face for me as well, I'll just have to roll with it. Bungie, since my entry into gaming, has made my favourite games and Halo 3 is still my go-to game for my Multiplayer fix and Single Player epicness as well. I'm willing to give Bungie my money. It just saddens me that this is a taste to come once Halo completely changes hands with Microsoft. I'm sure you can tell that this was a decision made by the dudes at Microsoft and not Bungie. 
 
In the end, ODST gets a pass because as an overall package, it more content packed then Halo 3 proper. Same feature set with a new campaign, brand new Gameplay mode and like 13 new maps (again, for the general consumer). TFU, on the other hand... its sad. I was probably one of the few who really, really liked TFU. It was frustrating at times but yea... It was an enjoyable experience for me. But what their doing with the DLC is utter bullshit.

Posted by Fosssil
@Suicrat said:
" @Fosssil: It is high time people stop misusing the verb "to force".
 
YOU are making the decision to purchase it, and they are including it for FREE to those who don't have the content. If they took it out, then other people would be bitching about how it's half a game for full price.
 
You are not forced to buy anything. Not Forced Unleash Sith Edition, and not Halo 3 ODST, if you don't think they're worth 60, then don't be the kind of retard who buys the shit on day one. You keep on saying how people who buy stuff at launch end up getting "screwed", yet you keep on doing it! The signal you're sending to publishers by giving them your money is that you like it that way, they don't hear you complaining, they only see your dollars. So if you don't like it, don't give them money. Don't come on some forums bitching about being "forced" because there's no coercion here whatsoever, pal. "
This site's quote system makes it difficult for me to specifically highlight and respond to your individual points, so I'm just going to list my responses below:
 
- Of course people would be upset if they removed the extra content but continued to charge full price. But, Microsoft's justification for charging full price for ODST in the first place was based largely on the fact that the full Halo 3 multiplayer experience (with all of the DLC maps) was included. For myself and thousands of other players, that's content we've already purchased, and will be paying for a second time.
 
- True, no one is "forced" to buy either of the games. In hindsight, I probably should have selected a better word to describe this problem. But, if players want to access that bonus Hoth mission in TFU: USE or be able to play the 3 new Halo 3 maps, they have no other option but to buy the full version of these games. 
 
- The "exclusive" content in each game could very easily be delivered in DLC-form, so that players who don't value the entire package aren't forced to pay for more than they need. The fact that many similar pieces of content (bonus missions in TFU and map packs in Halo 3) have already been released as DLC in the past indicates that the publishers are only hoping to squeeze some extra cash out of their dedicated fans.
 
- Buying a video game on its launch day is not indicative of someone being a retard.
 
- I didn't "keep on saying" that people who buy stuff at launch end up getting "screwed" anywhere in my OP, nor did I indicate that I was going to "keep on doing it" as you put it. I talked about two games that were taking advantage of fan loyalty, and indicated that I hope it doesn't continue in the future.
 
- I have no idea how the "if you don't like it, don't buy it" argument holds any credibility here. No one at Microsoft is going to notice if I don't buy ODST in protest of the unfair pricing, as the game is still going to sell millions of copies and be a critical success.
Posted by Suicrat
@Fosssil: There you go again using the verb " to force".
 
Let's examine the process by which a game like Halo ODST is produced and marketed.
 
Developers develop Halo ODST
 
Publishers ask developers to add extra content
 
Developers add some new features, and some old features as well
 
The game is put on store shelves for x number of dollars (it varies by store, and region, but there is a nominal amount of regularity to the price)
 
You walk into a store, and then have a choice: to buy or not to buy. You choose. Nobody forces you. If the price on the box does not match the price you are willing to pay, do not buy it. If it does, then do. There are other options available to you if you decide not to buy. You can wait till the price comes down, you can voice your concern over the internet, you can voice your concern to friends, coworkers, fellow students, your congregation, and family. At no point, if the money leaves your hands in exchange for Halo ODST were you forced. While it is true that "you have no other option" if you want the content on the disc for which you did not already pay. But having more options than the producers of the product in terms of how the product is distributed would be to force them, not the other way around. Of course, at this point I feel the need to remind you that you can also voice your concern directly to the publisher and developers.

And actually, "if you don't like it, don't buy it" argument holds a hell of a lot of credibility. Far more credibility than the "I don't like it, so I'm going to buy it" argument does.
 
As for the "keep on complaining" and "keep on getting screwed", they were a little heavy on the rhetoric, I admit it.
 
However, the core of my point with respect to those statements was to highlight the fact that registering your discontent and then buying the product anyway will negate the signal you initially sent: i.e., your discontent. If you claim to be discontent about something, and then go about paying for it anyway, the seller of the product will assume you either changed your mind, or weren't really discontented in the first place. What you need is consistency.
 
I mean, how is Microsoft going to recognize your ownership of the Halo 3 multiplayer content at store level? Are they going to take you at your word? Or are you asking them to take on the extra expenditure of shipping two different SKUs: one with the extra disc and one without? Moreover, if you do buy it, who says the extra disc is wasted? Are all of your friends who own Halo 3 going to buy ODST? If not, do any of them also not have the Multiplayer DLC? If not, why not give it to him or her?
 
You are not without options, this is the core of my argument. You are not being forced to do anything. If you purchase it, despite your own protests, then you are encouraging this sort of behaviour on the part of the publisher. There's no way around that.
Posted by Fosssil
@Suicrat
 

But having more options than the producers of the product in terms of how the product is distributed would be to force them, not the other way around.

Realistically, a company should be trying to please its customers as best it can. Asking that Microsoft release 3 maps as standalone DLC is not some outrageous demand, especially when considering the fact that there have already been 10 maps released in DLC form.  
 

And actually, "if you don't like it, don't buy it" argument holds a hell of a lot of credibility. Far more credibility than the "I don't like it, so I'm going to buy it" argument does.

I still contend that the "if you don't like it, don't buy it" argument doesn't solve anything, at least for me personally. As I mentioned earlier, Microsoft isn't going to notice if I choose to skip the game in protest, but I'll certainly notice as a Halo fan. I realize it is hypocritical of me to argue against the practices that Microsoft is employing here, and then turn around and buy the game anyway. But, I think that a lot of fans are in a similar position as I am -- many of them are too invested in the Halo series and too dedicated to Bungie to not buy ODST at launch, and Microsoft is clearly taking advantage of their loyalty with the pricing of the game. It's the opposite of fan service.
 

 I mean, how is Microsoft going to recognize your ownership of the Halo 3 multiplayer content at store level? Are they going to take you at your word? Or are you asking them to take on the extra expenditure of shipping two different SKUs: one with the extra disc and one without? Moreover, if you do buy it, who says the extra disc is wasted? Are all of your friends who own Halo 3 going to buy ODST? If not, do any of them also not have the Multiplayer DLC? If not, why not give it to him or her? 

Of course Microsoft has no way of knowing which customers already own Halo 3 and which customers do not, but think about this realistically. Who will make up a larger portion of ODST's customers, previous Halo players, or newcomers to the series? Halo 3 has sold close to 10 million copies, so chances are a large portion of ODST purchasers will be paying for duplicate content (whether they know it or not). I am not asking that Microsoft ship two different SKUs, only that they offer the new maps on the disk as standalone DLC, like they have in the past. Also, giving away the extra disk to a friend would defeat the purpose, as the new maps that I am interested in playing are only available on that disk. 
 

You are not without options, this is the core of my argument. You are not being forced to do anything. If you purchase it, despite your own protests, then you are encouraging this sort of behaviour on the part of the publisher. There's no way around that.  

I don't disagree, but my decision to purchase or not purchase the game won't be noticed by anyone other than myself and my Halo-playing friends. Therein lies the problem -- there are thousands or even millions of Halo fans who are likely irked by the pricing of ODST, yet they enjoy the series enough to pay the premium price for the new content. The game is certainly going to be a commercial success, and other publishers are probably going to begin following the example set by Microsoft.
Posted by Red

The same thing's happening with the LBP: GoTY Edition. Game content exclusive to a pre-order or special edition of a game is just dumb and unfair.

Posted by iam3green

it's alright, i payed for metal gear solid 3 when it came out then i bought substance because it changed a lot of the game. i didn't care a because i am a fan of the series. i kind of like having them to release games with the download content. i don't plan on buying force unleashed though. i think halo OSDST is just a rent or something a long that. i'm not a big halo fan.

Posted by Damian
@Fosssil said:
" But, I think that a lot of fans are in a similar position as I am -- many of them are too invested in the Halo series and too dedicated to Bungie to not buy ODST at launch, and Microsoft is clearly taking advantage of their loyalty with the pricing of the game. It's the opposite of fan service. "
Yeah ... I bought every Mortal Kombat game on release date since Grey Blood MK on SNES. And I've complained (admittedly, like an absolute bitch at points) about every MK after II. Our fandom's blind us. And so I own MK vs. DC ... Collectors Edition *BIG sigh* .
 
Also complaining is important, and making a public joke of things seems even more effective. I'm sure Horse Armour sold aplenty for Bethesda. But they learned because they follow these sorts of grievances, and weigh (I'm sure quite heavily, as this is their livelihoods) the pro and cons, and how much they can get away with.
Posted by Suicrat
@Fosssil: It is not inevitable that it will be a commercial success. Microsoft's marketing will have detailed information on how many owners of Halo 3 bought ODST and if the conversion rate is not high enough, they will find other ways of monetizing that content.