EA’s ‘Project Ten Dollar’ Explained

EA’s Project Ten Dollar Will Change How DLC Is Delivered, Combats Used Game Sales

February 10, 2010 – When Mass Effect 2 arrived in gamers hands, there was a code included with the game that unlocked the Cerberus Network, through which gamers could access DLC content for the space epic. The code is one-use only, meaning that once unlocked, it will only work with the specific gamertag that unlocked it. If said gamer plays Mass Effect 2, downloads some armor or extra missions and, after a while, decides to sell the game, the unfortunate sucker who purchases the used copy via GameStop or Amazon will have to pay ten dollars to register a new Cerberus account, granting them access to the DLC.

This exclusive content access is a common trend that’s begun to emerge with EA titles – besides Mass Effect 2, The Saboteur and Dragon Age: Origins also include similar features – and it is part of EA’s plan to make more DLC content available while encouraging gamers to purchase new copies of games.

The problem facing EA and other game publishers is that when a game is resold, they don’t receive a penny. This works well for outlets such as GameStop, who sell new games, buy back used games at a significant discount and then resell the games, allowing them to rake in all of the profits from the used game sale. And in an economy like today’s, where pockets are tighter and buying a used game is preferable to paying full price for a new game, GameStop and other used retailers are reaping benefits while publishers see declining sales and income.

EA’s solution is what CEO John Riccitiello calls “Project Ten Dollar.” The goal of Project Ten Dollar is to encourage new game sales by providing free DLC that used game purchasers would have to pay ten dollars to gain access to. As part of that effort, EA announced that all Fiscal 2011 titles will feature online content.

The result: day-one DLC for titles like Battlefield: Bad Company 2 as well as Mass Effect 2 and future EA releases such as Medal of Honor.

Project Ten Dollar is a trend that will reward new game buyers while punishing used gamer purchasers. And while EA is the first to implement such a strategy it seems likely that, in the very near future, every publisher will follow suit.