The evolution of game extras

Zack Stern
Z. Stern|01.05.07

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The evolution of game extras
The Associated Press describes how cheat codes, Easter eggs, unlockables, and in-game advertising are converging as marketers try to create more money and drive more game sales. While the article takes a broad swipe at the topic, and it's just plain wrong at times -- Easter eggs are "brightly decorated circles or balls ... that [unlock] bonus points, monster-slaying swords, extra lives, or infinite health" -- it covers the evolution of cheats and Easter eggs. These tricks used to be added by programmers as a way to surprise gamers, but they've become co-opted by marketing departments that release the secrets on a schedule to raise interest in a game.

With unlockable content, its transition to a for-pay service bothers us. We don't begrudge publishers the opportunity to change their business model to give gamers more options to buy a game; instead, the trend seems to be selling us the same game more than once. Where are the cheaper games with for-pay content?
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