Room 208

Elaborate Burn

Not Greedy, Just Clueless

Shamus Young, on why EA’s business practices enrage customers, and how blaming “greed” is ultimately an error of attribution:

About twenty-five years ago, fast food places invented the idea of the value meal, combo meal, or whatever you call it when you order one item to get several. Before this, you had to order your burger, fries, and a drink individually. With a combo meal, you could just order a single item for a single price. Sure, maybe you used to get a small drink and now you get a medium and you didn’t usually get fries and now you do, but by gathering up the items under a single price point the restaurant can make things more convenient, get you to buy more food, and leave you with the impression that you somehow saved money. This was smart. This was a system devised by people who understood what consumers wanted and how they behaved.

The stupid way around would be to make more money by charging people for small items. Charge for napkins. Charge for condiments. Charge for the cup, the ice, the tray, and the utensils. Charge people to enter the store, charge them to talk with other patrons, charge them for the bathroom, for window seats, for privacy, and for access to WiFi. This is how EA has been selling their games.