The internet lately has been all abuzz lately with talk about Online Passes for new games coming out. For those of you who might not know what an online pass is here’s Dr. Wikipedia’s clinical definition*:
In the video game industry, an online pass is a form of digital rights management for video games with online functionality. Online passes are commonly in the form of a single-use serial code found in a game’s manual (or in leaflets). Although they are used to unlock content for a game, online passes are often required for access to certain online content, notably online play. However, if a gamer buys a game pre-owned or borrows from another person and their online passes are already used, the gamer can either purchase one via their console, or can access a limited (commonly 2 day) trial of the game’s online content, which is more useful for rented games.
Ok so now that we have that out of the way…
Here’s my thing, I’m a gamer. Simply stated as a sweeping generalization, we are a group of people who feel a large sense of entitlement when it comes to the content that’s being delivered to us. We feel as though we have the right to A LOT of things. One of those things, which makes this a hot button issue for some, is playing games online. PC gamers look at the console players and probably laugh. They’ve been paying for years to play games online, like World of Warcraft, Everquest, etc. The interesting thing is that the PC industry is shifting, in some ways, in the opposite direction. Now many games like WoW and DC Universe Online are “free-to-play” up to a specific level cap.
I’m personally torn about the issue. Is it a good thing or is it a bad thing?
Let’s start with the bad first. We work hard every day at school, at work, taking care of things around the house and all we want to do is spend $60 on a game and play it online late into the night. Maybe, because you’re in school, you don’t have a ton of money so you forego picking it up on release day and you stroll into your local brick and mortar “Mom and Pop” shop and pick it up for $20 because it’s been out a while. All giddy and excited you pop in that new-to-you game and blow through the 4 hour war simulator campaign. That was the easy part, but now you want to take your skills to the online arena. You attempt to log into the multiplayer section of the game only to be thwarted by the game asking you for the code for your online pass. Wait…I don’t remember seeing it in the box!? So now your only option is to fork over another $10-$20 of your hard-earned cash that mom and dad sent in your latest college care package. Your compulsion to kill zombie dogs is too much and purchase the online pass. This now means that a $20 used game turned into a $30-$40 used game. WTF, right?!
No, Mr. (or Mrs.) I Deserve the World on a Platter, not WTF! You need to keep in mind where all of the money is going first before you can get mad. I’m not going to get into a tizzy about “New vs Used” games, but you gotta keep in mind that the $20 you spent for the game itself went straight to the store you bought it from and the developers and publisher are seeing none of that money. Developers need to find a way to produce income based off the used game market. Those matchmaking servers don’t run off Bawls Energy Soda and 13 yr old kids yelling derogatory words at you. (Side note: if they did the world would be able to be powered completely for approximately 88.6 years) No, it takes time and money to keep those servers going, not to mention the hard working IT employees making sure that they are patched, secure, and running smoothly so you can two-piece that grub on Escalation or spawn camp the n00b while you call in an air strike. Sure, you can argue that they’re making you pay for all of those additional maps and skins and that $4 times thousands or millions of gamers adds up and it does, but some of that money still goes to the Sony’s and the Microsoft’s of the world for hosting that content on XBox Live or Playstation Networks. They needed to figure out a way to supplement that money loss and I think they have.
I’m not saying I’m right and I’m not saying I’m wrong, but from a perspective of dollars and cents online passes just make sense. Yes, it sucks to have to fork out more money to play online, but count your lucky stars because as the age of digital distribution comes to fruition you’re going to be paying full shot for all games.
So, what do you think? Are you for or against online passes? Sound off in the comments below.
*Please note Dr. Wikipedia is not a clinical doctor, has never earned a PhD, and is user-edited content. This means the definition might not be 100% accurate, but it’s more accurate and quicker than if I were to take the time to write something out.