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Kingdoms of Amalur Includes Day One DLC in the Box

A nice freebee, or insidious anti-used marketing tactics? You decide.

Online passes are a touchy subject in the realm of gaming. Initially explained as a way to defer costs of running and maintaining servers and community for online multiplayer focused games, the pass has become something else entirely. Batman: Arkham City hid away the much-publicized Catwoman missions behind an online pass, and it seems like Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is going the same route. Or is it?

Word came earlier today that new copies of Amalur come with a digital download code for a set of quests that involve the House of Valor faction. At first blush, this looked to be another iteration of the Catwoman fiasco: where meaningful content was held back and then doled out to customers that buy the game new. Later on, 38 Studios made a statement regarding the House of Valor questline.

“For what it's worth, the House of Valor content was not in the finished game/disc at one point, then removed,” says 38 Studios community manager Muse. “It isn't there and we're locking you out of it. The House of Valor was created as stand-alone content, and was always intended to be the first DLC. Instead of holding onto it and charging for it later, we opted to give it to everyone who purchases the game new, for free, on launch day.”

This is similar to what was done with 2010’s release of Alan Wake, which included a download code for the first DLC episode. In that situation however, the first DLC episode came out some time after the launch of the game. Day one DLC is becoming commonplace, but it still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many gamers who feel like they are being denied content that should have been on disc to begin with. As the used games market and piracy become more of an issue for publishers and developers, you can expect more incentives like this to be packaged in with new copies of games.



Julian Titus Senior Editor

01/27/2012 at 07:36 PM

I rage on this stuff on a case by case basis. I hated the Catwoman situation, because she had been pushed as a major part of the game, and features prominantly on the box. This Amalur thing seems okay to me. If there's going to be day one DLC, I'd like to get it for free if I buy the game. Of course, the way to keep gamers from feeling like they've been shafted is to release this DLC a few weeks after launch. And it had better not be on the disc. Gamers can tell when it is.

Our Take

Nick DiMola Director

01/27/2012 at 09:15 PM

I think the problem here all comes down to intent. While this may have been planned from the get-go, the intent was to create the downloadable content alongside the development of the main game. At that point, you may as well be including the content right on the disc and giving it to everyone. If your intent is to release the game, then create more content down the road and sell it as an expansion, it's clear that you are trying to expand the play experience and draw players back in after they've completed the main quest.

Regardless of intent, all of this online pass business and day one DLC just seems like a smack in the face to the consumer. If you're not making enough money because you spent too much on the game and need to sell too many copies to break even - start making games differently. Hate to say it, but captialism is getting the better of so many of the game companies out there right now. If you make bad investments and mistreat your customers, you're not long for this market.


01/27/2012 at 11:33 PM

I'm late to the party: There's online passes for single player games? Is EA that scared/angry at Gamestop? What's this I don't even...


01/28/2012 at 03:43 PM

38 Studios's explanation behind the "day one DLC" makes sense, but I still don't like it. It feels like it's just  a chance for EA to flash around their online pass authority once again. If I don't get pissed at it now, what will it take? Will I just get conditioned to it and over time if EA keeps doing it I'll just be complacent with it? I really want to play Amalur but this online pass stuff rubs me the wrong way. I liked back when games were suppose to ship finished and the experience was on the disc and it was either great, bad, or inbetween. Online passes and hidden content are just frills to me and I hate frills. If I have to I won't have a problem overlooking Amalur and not buying it.

There's plenty other good games out there to compete with and I for one am extremely excited about The Witcher 2 coming to 360, and I also really want to get Dark Souls. I wouldn't have a hard time ignoring Amalur, and I just might do that.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

01/29/2012 at 09:31 PM

This might be a good time for me to fish for opinions on a theory I have.

A lot of gamers saw this and instantly said OMG Boycot if U R a Real Gamr.  I understand the hate, but the problem isn't the developers.  From everything I understand about 38 Studios, this is a company and a property being very literally developed by gamers for gamers.  I completely LOVE that this is how Curt Schilling is investing his MLB money and I would love to support his efforts if this is a quality title, and this is coming from a die hard born and raised Yankees fan.

Now I wasn't there when all this went down, but I would imagine it went something like this:  EA looks at the title and thinks DAMN, we could make a killing here.  They make a deal with 38 Studios, and then later go over and say "hey guys, why don't you make a little extra content here we can give away free to people who buy the game new?"  Now when a publisher says something like that, I can only image it's more of a DO IT than a request.  After all, they hold the big bucks.  At the end of the day, it's so let it be written, so let it be done.  Big Huge Games and 38 have no real say in the matter.

Now, lets say this protest thing grows some real momentum and the game tanks.  You really think that's going to stop EA?  Seriously?  They'll do this again, I'm sure of it.  You know who it WILL hurt?  38 Studios.  Suddenly their big fresh IP is a sinkhole and nobody wants to pick up the MMO they've been very open about having in the works since before this game was a gleam it it's daddy's eye.  EA keeps on trucking and screwing people buying used, and 38 Studios and all their fantastic ideas get flushed away.

Maybe I'm off my rocker here, but that's how I see protests like that ending up in the long run.  EA won't blame the locked content for pushing gamers away, they'll blame the devs for not making a game strong enough to hold up their crack headed publishing practices.  I don't like it either honestly, and I'm still not buying the game day one like I originally said, but I probably will buy it new when it drops 20 or 30 bucks in price.  Not because I love EA, but because I love 38 Studios and everything they represent.


01/29/2012 at 09:49 PM

You're not off your rocker, everything you said was true. I never said I have a problem with the developer or the game, it's all about EA, and I know both sides of the coin and how the developer would suffer. Every time you don't buy a game a developer suffers, and none of us buy every game out there, so it's not exactly a protest that I'm doing. There's other games I'd rather play, Amalur can wait or maybe I won't play it at all, it depends on if I still care about it in a year or more. I've waited for plenty other good games like Fable 3, Fallout New Vegas, Skyrim, Dark Souls, Dead Space 2, and many others. Amalur is the kind of game I'll wait a year or so for price drops. Also since Wii U is coming this year and new Sony and Microsoft consoles might be announced, it's possible Amalur might not even matter to me by the time it starts to go down in price. EA is trying to use tactics that will entice me to go buy it new from them right away, and on their terms, and I'd rather keep my options open and use my money on my terms. Gamers don't want to be told how to buy their games. In the grand scale of things this whole first day DLC isn't a big deal, but when gamers feel like a company is telling them how to buy the game and what the "best" choice is, they get upset.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

01/30/2012 at 10:14 AM

I understand, I wasn't addressing you personally, I was using your post as a launching pad for something that's been brewing in my head for a while.

Frankly, I find it very unfair that a producer would take someone elses work, tack some horrible content lock on it, then blame the dev should the software fail because of their tactics.  How many development studios has Activision shuttered because they over-produced games in a franchise?  Was that the developers fault?  I don't think so, but they are the ones who end up paying the price.

That pisses me off a whole lot more than losing 7 quests because of some (in my opinion) jackass marketing ploy.  


01/30/2012 at 01:17 PM

It's okay Angelo no worries. I agree with you completely. The fists in the air and outcries are just reactionary and anticipatory it seems. Restricted content makes people really mad (like with Catwoman in Arkham City I think it was) and when people read articles about a publisher taking content in an offline game and keeping it exclusive for a certain online demographic it seems unfair. In Amalur's case, this situation seems to avoid the pitfalls of earlier online pass follies because it's just suppose to be early free DLC which is pretty sweet. The restricted content is said to not to detract from the experience and it was planned as future DLC tacked onto the disc in addition to the already full and finished game experience. That's not bad at all and it lets us know that this particular situation isn't as bad as we thought it might be. The people buying it new will get the DLC early and free, but eventually it should be available to everybody.

Amalur's case isn't that bad and now that I know more about it, it doesn't make me too upset. However, this is a rare case of when it doesn't bother me. These kind of tactics can easily go wrong and rub people in a bad way. I just don't want to see pulishers categorizing their consumers and giving the "best" experience to people who buy it the way the publisher wants them to. Tactics using online passes and exclusive content are good and bad. On the business side it gives players incentives to use their money they way the publisher wants the players to, therefore making more money for the publisher and other beneficiaries. However the bad side to it is that it becomes more and more exclusive. With online pass and exclusive content strategies it urges players to all be the same, have internet connections, keep up to date on their bills, have the console, have the affiliated online gaming service and possible fee (like Xbox's yearly fee), buy the game itself new, and jump through all the right hoops to get the best game experience possible.

That kind of system benefits pretty much everybody it would seem because the publisher gets their fortunes, the console makers get theirs, and people spend money to use the online services, plus they buy the game and everything else. It benefits a lot of people, but it's a bit of a hassle for the gamer and gamers have to invest a lot into it. All the people out there who don't have internet, don't have an online service to use their games with, and all the people who will buy the game used, all these people get scoffed at a little bit and pushed to the margins as if they are less important consumers and gamers. There's good and bad to the whole situation and the bad parts of it make some gamers feel left behind and less important. It's not surprising though because EA has shown that it's not worried about having gamers respect them or like them, EA wants to make good games that people will buy, and use those games to milk as much money out of consumers as possible. EA is an effective and extremely profitable business, gamers hate them for it, but we have to keep using their system and business because more often than not EA is making pretty good games that a lot of us want to play. EA keeps making their fortunes in the most effective ways they choose to, and when it goes badly developers get blamed and screwed, gamers get screwed, and EA just keeps on truckin to find other ways to bring the profit in and make up the losses.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

01/30/2012 at 02:21 PM

Amalur isn't the only one playing this game.  Check this out:

Read especially the final paragraph.  Of course nobody will know for sure until the game launches, but if that were my company I'd shoot a rumor like that down so fast the entire internet would get whiplash.

Jesse Miller Staff Writer

01/30/2012 at 02:43 PM

I think Katherine has you going with that one. ;)

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

01/30/2012 at 03:26 PM

Ah crap.  Blinded by my nerd rage.  That's one for you Katherine :D

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