Article Online Passes

Written by Twisted Ideas

In the past year or so console games have begun to include one time use “Online Pass” codes to be able to play online multiplayer. Users who buy games that use Online Passes new will receive a piece of paper with a download code to unlock multiplayer for free. Those who buy the game used have to go on the console’s respective networks to download the Pass for $10. While this tactic of battling used game sales makes sense Online Passes have issues.

Driver San Francisco recently had their codes. Ubisoft has recently made their Uplay Pass free for all users to solve the issue. The just released Batman Arkham City included singleplayer DLC (same concept, just work with me here). Catwoman DLC is included with the game and Robin and costume DLC as special pre-order deals. People have had codes not come with the game, have the code not printed or the code has already been activated. Various cases with other game’s Online Pass not working have also been reported but not on a large scale. If a company does not compensate then consumers have to fork out $10 to play online.

Developer’s need to combat used game sales has lead to a solution that in theory should work. Gamespot and EB Games are the main targets as they buy used games and resell them to consumers for a slightly reduced cost sometimes under $5. They make 100% profit off used game sales and is what keeps their business running. Online passes being $10 force Gamespot and EB to have games $10 cheaper to compensate unless they don’t do that and just completely rip of consumers.

Theoretically this should be a good system (if it worked properly). New and used purchases both have online withheld. New users just have a code to download the Online Pass for “free”? Used purchases get to pay less for a game and have the OPTION to pay for the online pass. Why don’t new purchasers have that same option? This system alienates three types groups: people who have no interest in playing online multiplayer, Xbox 360 Silver Membership users and people without internet access. This also suggest a price for online. New games are typically $60 with the Online Pass included. Let’s say that after a week a new game disabled Online Pass, does that mean that the game’s price will raise to $70? I don’t think so. Games that have online but don’t use the Pass system are not $70 so what we are paying for is a $50 game with a $10 multiplayer. The alienated groups should not be paying $10 for a feature that they won’t use when buying new. These groups buying used is always the better option.

Personally I won’t buy games used because I respect the work developers but I do want to see games with Online Passes reduced by $10 and not include the code. This will force everyone to buy the Pass online. This eliminates the problems with the code, people who don’t benefit from the Pass aren’t paying more for it and developers will still get money from people who will play online. Realistically this isn’t the most elegant system and has a couple of flaws. People may not buy points cards or put credit card information on their systems. There is the potential to make a lot less money at retail depending on how money is distributed. Online Passes don’t seem to be going away but this system seems like they are punishing the consumer for wanting play their games. Sony has stated that all their future games will include Online Passes but they will apply to all user accounts on your PS3 which is a step in the right direction especially if you share games with your friends. I hope that the price of games will go down as a better solution to having to deal with Online Passes but I don’t see that happening. Hopefully a company will take charge and offer something that is feels like a bonus for buying a game new instead of letting you play what you should be allowed to play in the first place.


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