So maybe you have or you haven’t heard about something that’s been traveling around the gaming news industry like a bad disease in a military barracks sitting next to a boondocks bordello? Well, if you haven’t, I’ll fill you in: Demos for Electronic Arts games have showed up on the Xbox One’s store page… with a price.
There’s been a lot of debate over whether or not EA’s premium demos were part of a calculated test-run for a more nefarious future for vertical slices released to the public, or if it was just a gosh-darn honest mistake. Well, there’s some pretty good reasons why a large majority of core gamers saw the news and reacted the way they did. But first, let’s get the story straight and clear before getting into the good bits.
Originally Hardcore Gamer ran a story about various demos of EA games showing up on the Xbox One’s store page with region-appropriate pricing. NeoGaffers even managed to snap some screenshots of the event just so you know that they aren’t just trolling to be trolling.
Miles Quaritch posted an image of the game showcasing how much it costs to purchase the FIFA 14 demo over in the Xbox One’s store. Check it out below.
Another user noted that the game demo was available for €4.99 in Germany.
Over in North America the demos for FIFA 14 and EA Sports UFC carried $4.99 price tags as well.
However, EA wanted to clear the air that they weren’t the ones pulling those strings… it wasn’t their fault!
Well, that’s what the word on the street is.
According to Polygon, EA Australia told them that it was an “error in the system”. Yep, EA probably went in to add some EA Sports UFC underwear DLC and it magically broke Microsoft’s Xbox One store prices for the demo, even setting appropriate regional pricing for Australians by setting the demo price to $6.65. Yep, that’s all just an “error”. No one could have gone in the backend and manually setup the regional pricing for the demos. Apparently Kinect misread some NSA commands and by mistake changed the prices on EA’s game demos, yeah?
Of course, the obvious question is: why wasn’t this an issue on the PlayStation Store? Well, as noted in the Polygon article…
“EA Australia told Polygon that the error isn’t on the PlayStation Network, but if it was, it’s been rectified already.”
Now there are some sites out there stating that gamers and the gaming community pulled back the hammer of criticism too quick and squeezed the trigger of judgment on EA without just cause. Some of EA’s defenders believe that the community has simply become too jaded and cynical.
Well, when EA basically tells the entire core community that they’re wrong for not wanting to be wallet-raped by in-app purchases or bank-drained by microtransactions in universally panned mobile-trash-compiled-into-digital-code called Dungeon Keeper, it’s easy to see how the community might be somewhat judgmental of a company when premium demos start showing up.
I mean, it wasn’t too long ago that we found out that swimming pools and toddlers were removed from The Sims 4. There was also an issue involving complaints regarding price-gouging in Real Racing 3, as reported by Eurogamer.
Is it so far fetched that a company whose previous CEO wanted to entertain the idea of charging for bullets in Battlefield that they might also want to charge for pre-release game demos? Heck, Bungie and Activision have pre-order beta tests available, essentially if you’ve paid for the game you get to play early, although in the same vein if you want to play-test the game you still have to pay to get in.
Is it so far fetched for the core audience to put on their negative-Nancy or downer-Dick caps and think “Well heck, this is a previous two-time winner of the Worst Company in America, I guess they want me to pay for demos now”?
Heck, EA is still catching flak over the sorry state in which Battlefield 4 launched; the net-code was more crooked than 17th century British teeth. And do I even need to bring up the error that kept erasing saved games?
Yeah, I think gamers reacted within a measure that matches EA’s previous track record. If this happened to be Valve or Nintendo or even Naughty Dog, I’m sure there would be a heck of a lot more leniency in this regard. But Electronic Arts? Yeah, they’re going to get a lot of hate because they’ve done a lot to the community to deserve that hate.