BioWare's Zeschuk defends paid DLC

"We're not gouging anyone," he insists.

Bearded BioWare boss Greg Zeschuk has insisted he's not "gouging" money from fans for multiple chunks of premium DLC.

"Honestly, people make the choice," Zeschuk said, answering a question from Eurogamer at a Develop panel yesterday afternoon. "We don't force them in any way to get the DLC.

"If they love the franchise or love the game, even if it's things that... I know in the case of Dragon Age that people were sceptical that people would buy a single piece of content because the game was so big.

"We're not gouging anyone," he added, "we're providing a really great deal for the price. People do make the choice themselves."

BioWare is in the vanguard of EA studios using 'Project Ten Dollar' incentives to ward off second-hand sales. In Mass Effect 2's case, first-hand buyers are given the DLC platform Cerberus Network for free, whereas second-hand buyers must purchase it for 10.

Post-launch Mass Effect 2 DLC has been deliberately alluring enough to persuade potential buyers they want a sealed, first-hand copy of the game. However, not all of this has been free, which means legitimate buyers are spending an extra 10 or 15 - on top of their initial 40 purchase - so as not to miss out.

Will the shelf price of a game ever decrease to accommodate this?

"The second concept, which I think is actually really strong one, is paying a different price for a base part of the game and then getting other stuff after that," said Zeschuk. "It's an interesting model. I don't know if it's episodic or a different type of model. It's probably something we'll see someone try."

"The challenge is of finding that nice initial price. One of the challenges of Episodic content is that you have a declining purchase rate and what your actually doing is splitting a $40 or 40 game into four pieces, but you're always going to make more with the initial episode.

"That might actually be different if 10 times as many people bought the first one," he added. "It's one of those spaces we'll see people exploring. We'd have to decide to do a game in the right way to take advantage of that, but that is something I wouldn't be surprised if we did try."

Microsoft experimented with offering Fable II espisodically on Xbox Live and charging a small price for each chunk. Fable III will use a similar model but for DLC, therefore offering the first chunks for free and then charging for subsequent episodes.

Greg Zeschuk has been buzzing around Develop in Brighton this week, delivering keynotes, attending sessions and having dictaphones thrust up his nose.

Luckily, Eurogamer's Wesley Yin-Poole was one of the first to accost the BioWare boss. His full interview with Greg Zeschuk will be published today.

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