Many gamers that rented or bought Madden 11 used were shocked to find a strange pop-up message on the game’s title screen. An online pass is required to take the game online. This pass came with the game if you bought it new, but if you didn’t, you’re shit out of luck. Online passes are a terror that has befallen gamers that like to be thrifty or simply don’t have the funds to buy a game new. Madden 11 was the first title from EA to use this method, after which many games followed suit, such as Dragon Age, Battlefield, WWE 13, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, MLB the Show and many, many more. It. Has. To. Stop.
Many gamers are already paying $60 a year for Xbox Live (49 if you find it at Amazon [you're welcome]) and now they have to throw in an extra ten or fifteen dollars to activate their title’s online features. Sure, the titles that use the online pass method have the option to choose a trial period of either two days (EA sports) or a week (THQ, Activision, etc.). After the trial period runs out, you can choose to either drop the extra cash, or refrain from purchasing the online component.
But who would be prepared to pass up on an integral part of a game? WWE 13′s biggest feature is the ability to customize/create wrestlers, entrances, videos, and storylines, all of which can all be shared online. Those sharing options cannot be accessed, however, unless you purchase the online pass. But even if you do buy it new, you have to go through the trouble of entering a ridiculously long code using the console’s QWERTY pad. And those can be a pain to use: if you can’t see well, god help you. Call of Duty uses online passes as well, and we all know what the main attraction of the series is. (If you think it’s the single player, go dunk your head in ice.) Are you telling me that if I buy the game with my hard earned money, I have to buy the online feature TOO?!
Publishers defend the online pass method by pointing their fingers to used game sales and piracy. That’s right, it is GameStop’s fault, so gather your pitchforks and torches, people, we’re going to mob GameStop! Really, guys? I know game companies don’t get any money from used game sales since the seller gets 100% of that money. Video game developers work really hard on the games and sacrificed parts of their lives to deliver a good product. Buying games new is how they are rewarded, and the more the game sells, the more money they see. They see NO money from used game sales and companies get shut down as a result. It’s a sad and cruel venture of the business world, but gamers shouldn’t be punished for it.
Most gamers nowadays have grown up and gotten married and had kids or gained financial responsibilities like bills or medical expenses. But they still like to unwind after a long day and play some matches with friends. But “no,” says EA, “we’re losing money because GameStop doesn’t give us a portion of the profit from used game sales, and since you bought it used… pony up, bitch.” Most of you are probably thinking, it’s only ten bucks bucks to buy an online pass. Whilst that is true, consider an average low class family that lives from paycheck to paycheck, and likes to forget its daily worries from time to time by playing video games. In situations like that, spending $49 is better than spending $60, when there’s only so much money available for entertainment, and the rest is spend on bills and food.
“Gaming is a luxury,” some of you may be thinking now, “if you can’t afford it, find another hobby.” A good argument, but if you have a passion for video games like I do, you want to play games and enjoy them to their fullest extent. It’s like buying a used 2011 Chevy Silverado, but being told by GM that, to use radio and the A/C, you have to pony up some extra cash. You got it used, after all.
Sony is joining in on the fun by having ALL Sony titles use an online pass. It may be hard to imagine at this point, but we shouldn’t exclude the possibility that they will eventually end up charging for single player conte– oh wait… they did. Batman Arkham City was the main offender as publisher Warner Bros. CHARGED for Catwoman’s missions, which actually play a big role in Batman’s storyline. If you bought the game used, you aren’t getting a major plot point.
Here’s a solution that compromises BOTH sides. Used game retailers should give 30-35% to the respective game devs/publishers on a sold used game, with the rest of the money going to the retailers. Gamers shouldn’t be the ones to be punished, at all. Why target us? Most of us are actually loyal followers that couldn’t afford the game in the first place but really wanted to play it. We all should be against this, we shouldn’t support this at all. The more we remain silent on this, the more companies will think online passes are a plausible solution.