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View Full Version : Online passes - ultimate evil or salvation of gaming (or something in between)?


MoviePage
01-29-12, 01:46 PM
I dislike them. Discuss.

Groucho
01-29-12, 01:50 PM
It's the tip of the iceberg.with the ultimate target the secondary market for games (and, to a lesser extent, piracy).

Jay G.
01-29-12, 02:10 PM
Technically speaking, the "online pass" for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning isn't an online pass at all, but day-one DLC that's free for people who buy the game new.

This article illustrates the distinction:
http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2012/01/kingdoms-of-amalurs-online-pass-continues-a-slippery-slope-for-used-games.ars
In launching [codes for online play], EA justified itself by saying it had "made a significant investment to offer the most immersive online experience available," adding that it "want[s] to reserve EA Sports online services for people who pay EA to access them."

In other words, EA was saying that used game purchasers were actively costing it money in the form of continuing server costs, which the company deserved to recoup....

Here's the thing, though—Kingdoms of Amalur is an exclusively single-player game. There are no multiplayer servers for used players to theoretically exploit as freeloaders.

This is similar to the Arkham City Catwoman DLC that came out last year:
http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2011/10/arkham-city-catwoman/


To me, making used game users pay for online multiplayer makes a certain level of sense, since this is an ongoing cost, and used games drive in new users that use these resources without directly compensating the publisher.

For day-one DLC, the justification becomes a bit murkier. The impression gamers get is that this is content that easily could've been included in the actual game, but was stripped out to be used as a "bonus." Of course, the same could be accused of almost all DLC, but for day-one DLC, especially when it's given free with new copies of the game, this feeling is especially pronounced.

fumanstan
01-29-12, 02:34 PM
I'm fully supportive of benefits to people who buy new games (and thus small hits to used game buyers) to support game developers and publishers, as long as it doesn't get to the point that parts of the game that significantly impact the game or the story aren't affected. I know there are people who like to proclaim "this is just the beginning!!" but I'm not that pessimistic. Worst case, people buying PC games on Steam can't resell them and it hasn't been a death sentence.

I can see why people are mad; consumers just want to pay the least amount possible for their entertainment, whether saving money by buying game used, or recouping money be trading them in. And people see EA and Activision, and billions of dollars from games like Call of Duty, and just assume greed. But when other studios get shut down because a decent game doesn't sell a million copies, it sucks. Sure used games can contribute to word of mouth and future sales, but not every developer gets that opportunity.

Decker
01-29-12, 02:49 PM
I buy my games new, ususally. I have no problems with added DLC value as a bonus reward for buying a game new. I'd be very against crippling a game so it can't be completed without buying a new copy, but as it is, I don't really have a problem with it. I consider bonus missions just that -- a bonus.

As I mentioned in a previous thread, I DO have a MAJOR problem with those passes that are only included with new copies of a game expiring on some random pre-determined date. If I purchase a new game with the understanding of getting bonus content with that game, I don't want to be on the clock. I think that it's wrong to make that DLC code expire (Dragon Age 2 bonus content redemption code expires 3/31/12, BTW) in the same way that I think it's wrong for codes for digital copies of movies to expire.

Jay G.
01-29-12, 03:03 PM
But when other studios get shut down because a decent game doesn't sell a million copies, it sucks. Sure used games can contribute to word of mouth and future sales, but not every developer gets that opportunity.
I think this is more an indictment of the current costs of video game development than on used games. Used games have existed for forever, and game developers have always had to deal with them. It's the fact that a game can bankrupt a studio if it doesn't sell a million copies that's the problem.

As for Steam, I think part of the benefit is that it has competitors on for digital distribution of content on PC, which provides the opportunities for good sales. For consoles, you can only get content through the console's own market, which means the drive for really good sales isn't as strong.

As I mentioned in a previous thread, I DO have a MAJOR problem with those passes that are only included with new copies of a game expiring on some random pre-determined date... in the same way that I think it's wrong for codes for digital copies of movies to expire.
I would like to hear a good justification for why these codes expire. I can see the studios not wanting to have to support the codes forever, but it seems like the expiration dates are too soon. Maybe allow a 5-year activation span, with the additional disclaimer that the code may become useless earlier if the company actually goes under.

Michael Corvin
01-29-12, 03:11 PM
I dislike them. Discuss.

We did discuss... in a similar thread back when EA started Project $10. IIRC, I think I was the only one that defended it. :lol:

Michael Corvin
01-29-12, 03:19 PM
[QUOTE=Jay G.;11095109
I would like to hear a good justification for why these codes expire.[/QUOTE]

I'm not familiar with any that expire, but my guess is that it's similar to digital copies that come with movies. It's a bonus for buying while the game is full price and not off the clearance rack.

fumanstan
01-29-12, 03:33 PM
I think this is more an indictment of the current costs of video game development than on used games. Used games have existed for forever, and game developers have always had to deal with them. It's the fact that a game can bankrupt a studio if it doesn't sell a million copies that's the problem.

No doubt. Anyway to recoup costs for the developers and publishers.

Jay G.
01-29-12, 04:22 PM
We did discuss... in a similar thread back when EA started Project $10. IIRC, I think I was the only one that defended it. :lol:
Here's that previous thread:
http://forum.dvdtalk.com/video-game-talk/573618-eas-project-10-do-you-agree.html

I'm not familiar with any that expire, but my guess is that it's similar to digital copies that come with movies. It's a bonus for buying while the game is full price and not off the clearance rack.
Do game publishers still press all their copies upfront? I would assume they could just stop putting the code in new copies after a while.

No doubt. Anyway to recoup costs for the developers and publishers.
The problem is if the cure is worse than the disease. If using online codes and DRM to promote new sales drives more customers away than it attracts, then it's not a viable solution.

fujishig
01-29-12, 04:34 PM
I'd be interested in seeing how many of these games with online capabilities actually have more than a handful of players a few months after launch. Sure, the big titles (COD, Halo, etc.) will be there, but other games?

Decker
01-29-12, 05:17 PM
I'm not familiar with any that expire, but my guess is that it's similar to digital copies that come with movies. It's a bonus for buying while the game is full price and not off the clearance rack.

Lots of them expire, at least going by the date on the DLC cards. A lot of the time the 360 codes don't actually expire, despite what the date states. The PSN codes usually do, right on the expiration date.

If they want to limit it to early adopters, then only release the bonus with the initial run. Once I buy a game, it's mine. I should be allowed to download the DLC I own whenever I want to. I don't want to feel like I'm still "on the clock" once I've bought the game new.

foxdvd
01-29-12, 05:19 PM
I know there are people who like to proclaim "this is just the beginning!!" but I'm not that pessimistic.

this is my main problem with online passes...the truth is I have no problem with the way current online passes work for a game like Battlefield 3...I would rather they not have them because I have kids who like to share games, but it does not keep me from buying it. I also don't have a problem with what Rage did...or Batman...

I do think though that this is the first step toward codes for console games. Is that not the nature of business? EA is not putting games out for some artistic reason. They want to make money. I have been grumpy about online passes from the start, and have found myself on the side of "this is the first step" and there is always equally on the other side "you are being paranoid"

Now IGN is saying that the next xbox might have a way to make used games not work. How else do you think they are going to do that? It is going to be a code in your game that you put in and verify so you can play it. Exactly what I was afraid of.

The worst part is I honestly deeply feel it will hurt their profits in the long run....

Steam works because for the most part it is made up of hardcore gamers...people who take the time to put together a gaming pc...they like what steam offers. Console games work to a much BIGGER level because they play to hardcore and mid-level gamers....along with even casual gamers. A game NEEDS to sell a million copies anymore to be profitable on a console..not so on STEAM...STEAM also works because it supplements physical sales. Big games that are released on STEAM may sell a million copies...and another million from stores...and another 5 million on consoles...

The closer consoles come to being PC's...the less reasons people will have to buy one...

fumanstan
01-29-12, 05:38 PM
I don't think Steam's audience is that reliant on hardcore PC gamers, nor do I really see how entering a code is somehow too complicated for consoles. I don't disagree that moving completely to something like that would lose sales though, however I don't think that the next generation is going to see that kind of system yet.

dsa_shea
01-29-12, 05:43 PM
The way I see it is that games that don't recoup their costs wouldn't anyways even if the used market didn't exist. The quality titles or big sellers are going to be the ones that have more numbers both new and used to create that cash flow and extra stream from used users paying the online pass fee. Ultimately, I think that all developers are going to have to scale the retail price for the title based on expected demand as well rather than just trying to recoup their investment. Rayman Origins was a title that many gamers were scared of at the original release price point of 60 but raved about once it came down to 30 and even more at 20.

lordwow
01-29-12, 06:52 PM
In my opinion this is pretty much no different than offering some DLC for pre-ordering. If you want it, buy it new. If you don't, buy the DLC with Microsoft Points or whatever.

Decker
01-29-12, 07:40 PM
Might I suggest that Movie Page, who started the thread, come back and explain why he feels so strongly about this being a bad thing. None of us are crazy about it, but only Movie Page, as far as I'm aware, actually cancelled a pre-order, on principle because of the Day 1 DLC model. I'd like some more elaborate explanation about why it's so terrible for a for-business company to incentivize the first-time purchasers of their software, especially in light of all the profits places like Game Stop make on the secondary market off the sales of used games that don't benefit the game developer much, if at all.

Groucho
01-29-12, 07:45 PM
Now IGN is saying that the next xbox might have a way to make used games not work. How else do you think they are going to do that? It is going to be a code in your game that you put in and verify so you can play it.Not necessarily. It could be via writable RFID technology in the disc itself, practically invisible to the end-user.

Jay G.
01-29-12, 08:07 PM
I'd like some more elaborate explanation about why it's so terrible for a for-business company to incentivize the first-time purchasers of their software, especially in light of all the profits places like Game Stop make on the secondary market off the sales of used games that don't benefit the game developer much, if at all.
Game developers/publishers benefit from the used game market, just not directly. Some people who buy new games fund those purchases, at least partially, by selling off their previous games. And people who buy a game used and like it may end up buying ancillary DLC, the GOTY edition of the game new, and any eventual sequels new.

Read these articles for more nuanced details on why the used game market is symbiotic with the new game market, not parasitic:
http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2010/08/used-games/
http://dubiousquality.blogspot.com/2010/08/most-dangerous-game.html

dsa_shea
01-29-12, 08:30 PM
Many consumers wouldn't touch many titles out there if there were no used market. We would be stuck with mainstream titles like Call of Duty and fewer innovative but risky titles. In the long run the gamers lose by doing away with a second hand market.

fumanstan
01-29-12, 08:42 PM
Which is why the "online pass" thing, the topic of the thread, seems like a fair trade off to me. Give people a reason to buy games new, while making a little bit off the used game market while not eliminating it completely. Although I don't like the idea of restricting something like multiplayer entirely like EA is doing with their sports games.

dsa_shea
01-29-12, 08:51 PM
I don't mind the pass as long as I get one with my new copy. I would much rather this continue than the rumored b.s. of games only working on the original system. Imagine your games or blu rays tied to one or two players and that's it.

foxdvd
01-29-12, 09:15 PM
I don't mind the pass as long as I get one with my new copy. I would much rather this continue than the rumored b.s. of games only working on the original system. Imagine your games or blu rays tied to one or two players and that's it.

deep down I have to believe this will not happen.....I don't see the next xbox doing 10 million units if they really did this...I hope IGN is full of shit...


and I like how moviepage starts this thread with 4 words and leaves...lol..

Decker
01-29-12, 09:35 PM
I never believed that story for a minute. Why would a company that's primarily interested in selling new hardware come out with an innovation that's anti-consumer, blocks rentals, alienates the very retailers that will be selling the hardware (Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Game Stop) and would put them at a competitive disadvantage against Sony and Nintendo just to please the software publishers? It's a business strategy that makes no sense and multi-billion dollar companies don't use illogical business plans to launch the most important product in their company's history. Maybe Coke did, but otherwise most companies aren't so eager to shoot themselves in the foot.

Did IGN explain why they thought Microsoft might ever consider doing that?

mhg83
01-29-12, 09:39 PM
If the Rumor turns out to be false I'd really like to find out who IGNs "Source" was.

foxdvd
01-29-12, 09:42 PM
Did IGN explain why they thought Microsoft might ever consider doing that?

actually they were quoting a kotaku article...so....yeah...probably full of shit..

I do know Sony and Micro both make 7 or more bucks per new game purchased...so they do have reason to sell new games vs used...

foxdvd
01-29-12, 09:43 PM
http://kotaku.com/5879202/sources-the-next-xbox-will-play-blu+ray-may-not-play-used-games-and-will-introduce-kinect-2

fumanstan
01-29-12, 09:53 PM
I would guess there's at least *some* truth to the rumor, given that we know publishers have been trying to fight the used game market for the last few years. It isn't that far out that there would be some discussion with Sony or Microsoft where some ideas were thrown around.

Decker
01-29-12, 09:54 PM
http://kotaku.com/5879202/sources-the-next-xbox-will-play-blu+ray-may-not-play-used-games-and-will-introduce-kinect-2

Yeah, that article doesn't give any reason why MS might want to do that except to be "cheered by publishers". If consumers don't buy your new system, they won't buy any new or used games for your new system. That story made my bullshit meter explode.

cruzness
01-29-12, 09:57 PM
Personally I liked the system that THQ had with Homefront. It allowed you to get a sampling of the multiplayer environment before you plunked down money for a online code.

mhg83
01-29-12, 10:27 PM
It'll be interesting to see what nintendo does with next gen. The Wii U is supposed to have better online. Will they start using online passes or some form of activation?

MoviePage
01-29-12, 10:57 PM
Might I suggest that Movie Page, who started the thread, come back and explain why he feels so strongly about this being a bad thing. None of us are crazy about it, but only Movie Page, as far as I'm aware, actually cancelled a pre-order, on principle because of the Day 1 DLC model. I'd like some more elaborate explanation about why it's so terrible for a for-business company to incentivize the first-time purchasers of their software, especially in light of all the profits places like Game Stop make on the secondary market off the sales of used games that don't benefit the game developer much, if at all.

I think most of the negatives have already been brought up by others, but I'll attempt to summarize my primary concerns.

1. It's a system that's ripe for exploitation of consumers. At first it was just the online component, now it's content that may have been part of the original game that was cut out and relabeled as DLC (this is pretty clearly what happened with the Catwoman content for Arkham City, and there's evidence that it's exactly what happened with Kingdoms of Amalur as well), and I have little doubt that the next step will be a more substantial portion of the content that should be included in the game as released, and would have been in earlier times.

2. It's an inconvenience to buyers of new games. Having to input a code that may or may not be correctly or even legibly printed (e.g. the Catwoman code fiasco) and then wait for a substantially sized file to download (assuming the servers are up) and take up a chunk of the limited space on my hard drive is punitive, not rewarding, to me as a consumer.

3. Those without internet-connected consoles are denied a portion of the game they paid for. Furthermore, there are a number of problems and concerns for multi-gamer or multi-console households.

4. Code expiration has already been discussed, but I'm more concerned about content expiration. What if I want to play the game I bought at full price along with all of its content in 10 years? Assuming I'm playing on a console that doesn't have the content already stored on its current HD, the full game experience will almost certainly be no longer available. My copy of Super Mario Bros. is still complete and fully playable, even if I buy a secondhand NES off eBay. This won't be the case with most of the games that lock content behind an online pass.

5. There's been no attempt to hide the fact that the point of all this is to combat the used game market. Why is this ok? The point has already been mentioned that the used market is likely not as damaging to publishers as they'd like us to believe. But more importantly for a buyer of the new game, the resale value is automatically lower because the product I have in hand is incomplete. The control of the content belongs to the publisher rather than the consumer.

It's a combination of all the above considerations, and the slippery slope nature of the whole practice, that makes me extremely reluctant to support any title that uses it. There are some points in favor of online passes that I don't necessarily disagree with, and I'm interested in both sides of the argument. I'm not condemning anyone who does buy these titles, I'm just not personally comfortable supporting them. That's why I started the thread (along with an attempt to steer other threads back to their primary topics).

and I like how moviepage starts this thread with 4 words and leaves...lol..

Better? :p

foxdvd
01-30-12, 05:48 AM
Better? :p

yes

Cusm
01-30-12, 08:56 AM
It's the tip of the iceberg.with the ultimate target the secondary market for games (and, to a lesser extent, piracy).

I agree with this, and will say that EA has already started adding to the tip. I bought NCAA for the first time in years, and they charge you for Dynasty mode stuff, you can play w/o paying, but you are limited in what you can "research" in Dynasty mode. The last Tiger Woods did not include all the courses, you had to buy them on day one if you wanted them all. This is bullshit and just a money grab. I would not mind the online pass if I was not already paying a yearly fee to Live, but I hate being double tapped.

Raul3
01-30-12, 09:22 AM
I really don't care about "online passes". But I would feel better if I was 100% sure that developers are helped by it.

Michael Corvin
01-30-12, 09:29 AM
I really don't care about "online passes". But I would feel better if I was 100% sure that developers are helped by it.

That's a good point. I doubt we'll ever see it, but it would be nice if EA came forward and said what percentage of passes were activated through used copies. It should be easy enough to track, especially since they are the ones spearheading this movement.

mhg83
01-30-12, 05:31 PM
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MoviePage
01-30-12, 10:45 PM
^:up: :up:

I used to dislike Jim Sterling, but he has really taken the lead in this particular battle over the past year or so by appealing to simple common sense above all else.

foxdvd
02-01-12, 01:09 PM
no online pass for Syndicate...their reasons behind it kind of fall in with what I have said all along...and I think they are doing the math when it comes to the 4 player coop...that even if one or two buy it used..friends will talk others into buying it new...

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-02-01-no-online-pass-for-syndicate-ea-confirms

Jay G.
02-01-12, 02:02 PM
no online pass for Syndicate...their reasons behind it kind of fall in with what I have said all along...and I think they are doing the math when it comes to the 4 player coop...that even if one or two buy it used..friends will talk others into buying it new...

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-02-01-no-online-pass-for-syndicate-ea-confirms
I hope it works out for them. If that game's successful, then maybe EA will let some more of its properties forgo the online pass.

MoviePage
03-19-12, 07:05 PM
Just thought I'd leave this (http://www.joystiq.com/2012/03/19/online-pass-game-included-in-latest-ea-server-shutdowns/) here.
As has become custom, Electronic Arts has revealed a new batch of games that will see their online service shut down soon. The games losing online service April 13 include some fairly new titles, like MMA, Create, EA Sports Active 2 and Spare Parts, the last of which was released in January 2011.

More notable, as noticed by Beefjack, is that MMA actually featured EA's Online Pass, a system EA's own Online Pass site states is meant to extend the life of its products. In MMA's case, the online "life" lasted for a little over a year and a half. As noted on EA's service page, games that have their servers shut down represent "fewer than 1% of all peak online players across all EA titles."

Supermallet
03-20-12, 02:17 AM
3. Those without internet-connected consoles are denied a portion of the game they paid for. Furthermore, there are a number of problems and concerns for multi-gamer or multi-console households.

Why would people who don't connect their consoles to the internet care about multiplayer at all?

I think, if these companies want to make more money off of their games, they have to make good games first, then they can make DLC that adds to the experience after the fact and people will buy that. This online pass stuff smacks of greed, mainly because used sales are not the anathema that the big companies make them out to be, and additionally because it's clear that EA is cutting out stuff that would normally be in games and selling it as day one DLC.

I'm reviewing Ridge Racer on the PS Vita right now, and it's got five cars and three tracks. The rest is DLC. Granted, it's free right now, but after this initial window the game will be five cars and three tracks and then a whole bunch of DLC. That's unacceptable (and not EA, so they're not the only ones doing it).

I love me some good DLC. It's a great way to extend the life of a game (and monetize it beyond its initial release at a much lower cost to the company), and I've spent plenty of money I shouldn't on impulse purchases, so it doesn't even necessarily have to be major DLC to turn a profit. But increasingly publishers are using DLC to sell you a game piecemeal, and the online pass is part of that. The game is $60, and increasingly we're seeing less and less being included for that $60. And if you buy it used you're the devil and must pay more to make up for your unpardonable sin.

Also, I think EA is getting really smart about making this stuff integral to the game so you feel like you have to buy it. For example, in Mass Effect 3 how you couldn't get the "best" ending without playing multiplayer, basically. But the multiplayer requires the online pass. And because that was the online pass content, the extra squad mate got pushed to day one DLC for $10. So now EA gets $10 from most people who bought the game new, while getting $20 from people who buy it used. Now, Mass Effect 3 still had a ton of content for the $60 asking price, but many of the sports titles can't say the same at this point.

And really, the only way to combat it is to not buy the DLC, but also not buy games we know are being crippled out of the gate. This can be tough because gamers find it hard to control their impulses much of the time. But if we really want to send a message, don't buy games that use online passes (or buy them used and don't buy the online pass). For games like Mass Effect 3, don't buy the day one DLC (I didn't). As long as this model makes them money they'll have no reason to change.

MoviePage
03-20-12, 02:24 AM
Why would people who don't connect their consoles to the internet care about multiplayer at all?

Not multiplayer -- I was referring in that case to the single-player content that's being increasingly cut out and locked behind an "online pass" (which isn't the right term in that situation, I guess, but we're talking about the same thing). For example, the Catwoman stuff in Arkham City. You bought the game new but don't have an internet-connected console? Too bad!

Completely agree with the rest of your post.

Michael Corvin
03-20-12, 07:36 AM
Why would people who don't connect their consoles to the internet care about multiplayer at all?

:hscratch: You do realize there was multiplayer gaming before the internet right? Hell local multiplayer is a reason why the Wii was such a juggernaut.

RichC2
03-20-12, 07:44 AM
I don't like the Online Pass structure at all, mostly because my friends and I tend to loan games out, as we always have, and you seem to lose a big chunk of the game when online features are taken away.

I don't particularly care about 1st day DLC situations though, as long as the game itself is complete.

On the bright side, games seem to get cheaper faster these days (the last 3 games I picked up were Rage (360, $5), Batman Arkham City (PS3, $10), Rayman Origins (360, $20). All new and all of which are fairly recent.) which helps out.

Supermallet
03-20-12, 10:44 AM
:hscratch: You do realize there was multiplayer gaming before the internet right? Hell local multiplayer is a reason why the Wii was such a juggernaut.

I didn't realize in-person multiplayer gaming was locked behind an online pass.

Looking at my post now, I can see I worded it poorly. It should read "Why would people who don't connect their consoles to the internet care about ONLINE multiplayer at all?"

And for people who didn't connect their console to the internet and thus lost out on the Catwoman content: You were the lucky ones.

MoviePage
03-20-12, 12:48 PM
I always enjoy hearing about the latest online pass facepalm (http://www.destructoid.com/ninja-gaiden-3-online-passes-not-working-224220.phtm).

All morning, I've been trying to redeem my online pass for Ninja Gaiden 3, only to be told the code is still invalid. It seems I'm not the only one, either. Fans who bought the game between midnight and now are unable to access the online portion of the game, as the online passes do not work.

This is true on both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game, so it's not just a case of the PlayStation Store needing to update. Interestingly enough, you can buy a working code from the Xbox Live marketplace, which seems to indicate the ones packed in with the game are all broken.

Fans have been pestering Tecmo Koei on its Facebook page and Tweeting about the issue, but the publisher has not addressed the situation yet.

This is yet another reason why online passes are total bullshit. I don't trust publishers to be competent enough to handle them correctly. If you're going to lock paying customers out of content until they prove their loyalty with a stupid code, you should at least make sure that shit works as soon as you start selling the fucking thing.

In any case, our review is going up as soon as the codes work. It's highly unlikely the lobbies are even populated while those who bought the game new wait for their damn codes to function.