I Support Project Ten Dollar (And You Should, Too)

EA’s “Project Ten Dollar” is good for the gaming community. Seriously.

Project Ten Dollar is EA’s attempt to curb sales of used games by offering incentives for customers to keep their new game. It works like this: you pick up a new copy of Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Inside the front cover of the box you find a “VIP” code that gives you access to free downloadable content (DLC). You play through the single-player campaign and finish it and you begin exploring the multiplayer. At the same time, EA announces the first release of free DLC for the game, and when it arrives you enter your VIP code, are confirmed as the owner of a new, original copy of the game, and you get access to new maps and weapons.

Conversely, it also works like this: You walk into GameStop several weeks after the release of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and immediately head over to the used game section. Out of the corner of your eye you glance a used copy of Bad Company 2 that retails for $55 rather than $60 and you decide saving $5 is a smart idea. You begin playing the game and soon realize there’s DLC to be had, but you don’t have a VIP code. In order to gain access to the DLC you have to pay $15 (the name Project Ten Dollar was chosen because, apparently, most DLC access will cost $10) to get the same content that is complimentary with new games. Now, to get the same content someone paid $60 for, you have to pay $70.

This is EA’s plan in the works, and to many gamers it seems conniving, greedy and unfair. Many in the gaming community are frustrated by an increasing reliance on DLC to improve profits. If it feels like you’re getting less game now than you used to, you may be right. I’m not writing this article to argue the merits of DLC (and DLC that was already on the disc) but rather I’m here to suggest why it’s only fair that EA implement Project Ten Dollar, and that it will benefit all gamers in the future.

The biggest problem with the sale of used games is that GameStop and other retailers make windfall profits on the sale of used titles while the original publishers and developers don’t see a cent from the recycling of their games. A new game sale allocates a portion of the $60 price tag to the developer and publisher and is how they recoup the amount of money they spent creating and marketing the game. But a $55 used game only costs the retailer, in this example, GameStop, $20 to purchase from a gamer who sells it to them. As a result, GameStop realizes a $35 profit from the game’s sale. In fact, I would go so far as to say that, without used game sales, GameStop’s total profits would shrink to almost nothing. While used game sales appear to benefit gamers who can’t afford new, $60 titles, they also unfairly recirculate games without giving the publisher and developer a fair portion of the profits.

EA saw this as a bad thing, and rightly so. Used game sales mean less money in their pockets, and concurrently, less money to support the development of new titles in the future. While EA pulls in an enormous annual income, they are frustrated by the knowledge that one copy of Bad Company 2 could be sold three or four times in its lifespan and they won’t receive a dime from the extra sales life of the game.

Now, here’s why I support Project Ten Dollar:

Most importantly, I support Project Ten Dollar because EA and DICE ought to receive fair and just pay for the high quality product that required lots of investment and time to create. Every single sale of the game ought to reward the publisher and developer regardless of whether it’s a used game sale or not. Because used game sales don’t benefit EA or the developer, I fully support providing incentive to purchase the game new.

Secondly, I support Project Ten Dollar because more money in EA and developer’s banks means more money to develop quality titles.

We gamers are addicted to emerging technology and evolving gameplay. We demand higher quality graphics, more realistic physics, grander stories and longer experiences. To evolve and improve, gaming requires huge amounts of money. If we continue to support used game sales we will continue to drain resources from the very people who created the games we play. Gaming involves a large community that includes gamers, developers, publishers and the media, and we all should support each other in order to foster the best possible environment for gaming and gaming advances.

I support Project Ten Dollar because we all lose if we don’t. A few dollars saved here and there on a used game may seem harmless, but in doing so, we are failing to support those who create the games, the people who work hard to develop a product for us to enjoy.