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Why HotU Should Stand for "Hand oUt" to the Community Builders

Dave Mason

I'm a patient guy. It takes a lot to get me rattled. Well, for the most part. Sometimes I get a bit antsy when I'm waiting for something to happen, especially when it's something that I expect without question.

For instance, when SoU was almost here, I kept waiting for BioWare to come along and say, "Hey all you people who make up our community of content creators! We really appreciate all your efforts in making our great game even greater. Here, have a free copy of SoU…" I mean, you'd think they knew I'd want one, right? In my free time, I'm constantly engaged in some form of NWN related activity: building modules, playing modules, posting comments on modules, surfing the forums, reading news items on the Vault, etc. And I seem to remember providing my address when I registered the game, so they knew where to send it… But I'm still waiting. In fact, I got impatient enough to just go out and buy the darn thing, cause hey, I've got mods to build and other people's to play! But really, where's my complimentary copy?

Was that a collective *gasp* I just heard? "Mary Jo, go round up Bobby, Bernadine, and Beth… There's a madman on now… Come listen!!"

I must be crazy, right? I mean, BioWare is a profit driven company just like any other. They need cash to stay a viable money making enterprise. They have people to pay, games to create, etc, etc… Why on Earth would they want to give away free copies of their game, especially to someone whom they know is a guaranteed sale?

Well, how about this: because we, as a community, help sell the game! If BioWare could guarantee that all it's community content contributors had the expansion, they'd be likely to sell far more of copies of their game, since it will be necessary to play all the new content, right?

You know, I stopped buying and wearing T-shirts that had company logos on them several years ago. Talk about a marketing gimmick that wasn't going to fool me! To this day, I still go into those restaurants that have the company logo T-shirts pinned up in some display case with a $30 price tag and invariably tell the hostess, "Hmmm… you'll pay me $30 to wear your T-shirt and advertise your company? Seems like kind of low pay, but alright, I'll do it!" And of course, they always give me a token laugh, shake their head, and direct me to my table. And I say, "What, you want me to PAY YOU to advertise YOUR company? How absurd!!" But here I am, essentially doing the same thing for BioWare.

Let's look at the bottom line, shall we? Let's take a compelling example, and consider a guy like Adam Miller. Pretty awesome builder, most people would agree, right? Even if you don't like his work personally, you have to respect his talent, and even if you don't, you must acknowledge his popularity. (Course, if you don't like his work, you should have yourself examined for some kind of serious head trauma, but that's another story).

So let's say he decides to make his next module, and because he's given HotU, he uses it. The last time I looked, Dreamcatcher 1 has over 60,000 downloads. 60,000!! Do you imagine that a few of those people might be willing to shell out a few bucks for the expansion to play his next module? Let's say only 10 people are willing to do so (incredibly conservative number, I think). If the x-pack cost $25, that's… um… let's see… 5 times zero is zero… mumble, mumble… carry the one… um… well, that's a LOT more than if all 10 people don't have to buy it for his modules.

Now let's go the other way and say he just buys it but decides not to use it, because from what he's seen from people building with SoU, it just serves to limit his download count. Suddenly, the same fans have no need to get the expansion. They can continue to play his great mods for free. BioWare may still make the $25 off Adam himself, but they lost the other… um… certain amount of cash from the lost sales to his fans. (BTW, I have no idea what Adam's take on all this is. This is just an example, so please; don't go bothering him about this).

Now multiply those numbers by Rick Burton, Wes Lewis, Stefan Gagne, Altaris, Wynne McLaughlin, etc, etc, and what do you get? Seriously, I'm asking… what do you get?

OK, so we aren't all Adam Millers… Well, none of us are… except for Adam, that is (although I'm not really sure he is either)… but it's not a very difficult concept. Give the expansion to the builders and sell it to their fans. Make one builder happy, and the fans dedicated to his/her stuff potentially raise your bottom line. Leave the builders on their own, and well, because they're such big fans of the game, they'll probably still buy it, but they may not use it in their work, because it limits downloads. I understand that giving it away doesn't guarantee the builders will use it, but if everyone has it, and sees that everyone else is using it to create new content, they may be more encouraged to do so. Then it makes it that much more important for all players to get it, too. There's got to be more players than builders, I think.

So here's my solution: FREE HotU copies for everyone!! (Well, all the content providers, anyway.) What, you don't want to give away 2500 copies of your expansion? What kind of rip-off deal…? OK, how about this: Why not make it an award for people who get a certain number of downloads? (Although I hate to exclude anybody who's put in the effort to share their creations, especially when there are so many builders that deserve more recognition than they've gotten.) Surely, BioWare, these people should be acknowledged and credited for helping your sales in some small way, shouldn't they? Because let's face it, we're all here because they're all here.

Man, if BioWare thought I was nuts before, what'll they think of me now? Actually, I'm joking (mostly), but if they want to shoot a copy my way, I won't refuse it! Also, BioWare, while you're handing stuff out, how about chucking a few visible robes and cloaks into the game? Heh heh…

Migrate Wizard: 
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