I need a tan, and the best way I have found to get one is to be flamed heavily on the interwebs, so here we go, about to talk about why the ‘Online Pass’ system is used by companies. Please hold your flaming until the article is over!
All I have been reading about of late is the horrible, evil, greedy, and dreaded ‘Online Pass,’ which was stirred back up by Sony picking up this method of getting people to buy games new instead of used. Now, I know all the hate that this is catching, but I honestly don’t mind, as I understand one key rule: EA, Sony, WB Games, (Mortal Kombat) and the others are all businesses out to get money; they give people the games they want because it sells, not because you want it. I want Resonance of Fate to get a sequel, but it won’t. Why? It bombed its sales. If they cannot make money at it, why do it?
This is more of the same idea behind how a developer would view used-game sales; it is of no benefit to the dev team when this happens, so they will try to fight it the same way PC gaming is fighting piracy. It is legal to buy used games but just as harmful to the company, hence why DLC has become such a major part of gaming: no used sales and you can get money from the people who got the game used as well. That said, I do not agree with the way they are milking DLC, but that is another article entirely.
I got into an argument with someone about a week ago about how the studio needs to sell so many games to make a profit… And this was his side of the whole debate, and I quote.
“That’s bullshit. $60 x 1 million sold games, do the math. They raised the price to make more money. I’ve heard bullshit excuses like that 3 gens ago”
Some people seem to think that if you buy a game all the money goes to the developer or publisher. But this is completely wrong. Factories to make the disk, stores selling the disk, they get their money out of that $60(usd) as well. Which leads me to believe that most people do not understand this market to well, but that is a topic for another day.
And Sony got this idea from…
Yep, EA. I remember them getting cussed out over this same thing, which was included in games like Dead Space 2, Dragon Age 2 (Free DLC on launch), Mass Effect 2 (PS3) and even games as old as Dragon Age: Origins did that for DLC like Shale, but you know what? Those were not complete disasters as everyone was saying. Life kept ticking, and those four games were and are highly praised, so it’s not like the world stopped turning.
The main argument is game rentals, which I can understand slightly. If you rent the game, you are not going to have it long enough to get deep into the online anyway. Renting a game gives you enough time to go through the story and check a bit of the extra content, but online gaming is all about adding replay value; yet, you use a service to access the game that gives minimal time, so why would it matter anyway? After the five days or two weeks or however long your rental is, you will never see the game again…
Also, the economy has hit a lot of people, which is another reason rentals are higher, but that does not matter to a company, all they see is one million people bought the game, but 1.2 million are signing into the game, so they just lost 200,000 sales. Why should this matter to the gamer, though? Well, there is a reason!
In the meeting between development studio and publisher about a sequel to a game, there are a few things they take into account, sales and critical acclaim being two of those. Well, they cannot use used-game sales in the process, so if too many people got it used, then there is a chance the developer will not get the green light to make the next one.
I know people say the oh-so-common line “They won’t go under” or “It’s not that bad” and “Just one won’t hurt a company like Sony/EA.” Well, let’s look at it this way: it is likely Sony or EA would not go under, but it is likely that the individual studio will. Game Republic went under recently. Everyone thought they were good, made some fan favorites, and then BAM! They posted that they’d cleaned out their studio. Yeah, EA and Sony do take hits from used-game sales, but they are more likely to close a studio or lay off people. All companies need money; that is just the way it works. And if they are not getting the money, they will cut costs.
Is there a peaceful solution?
Everyone wants to scream and cry, instead of trying to think of a way out of the problem. Well, I will present one. You want to play online with a rental? They want their profit! The best way for everyone to win is…
(Drum roll please)
48-hour pass. Free. Something of a trial. You could download a free, timed pass for the online mode as a trial run. Yeah, the idea is flawed, as PS3 users could make new accounts to re-download it, and 360 owners could make a new one for the free month of Gold, but I am sure someone could iron that out. The idea is, those who rent the game can have some online fun for the time granted to them, and those who buy it used will be able to try it out and see if they wish to buy the online pass from the PSN/XBL. Seems logical, right?
Truthfully, I give it one year before every game company uses an online pass. Is it fair? Depends on who you ask, but in the eyes of a company trying to stay alive and keep from getting shut down, you have to admit it seems like the smart thing to do. Game studios are closing more and more right now. I don’t mind the thought because of two reasons… I buy the games new anyway, and I understand that a company has to work around threats to keep sales high. This is just how it goes.