Saturday, May 19, 2012

What's up with Online Passes/Subscriptions?

That's a hard question to answer, but I'll try to explain it as best as I can.

Back in 2007, John Riccitiello became CEO of Electronic Arts. His return to the company after leaving was dependent upon a few factors, one of them was increasing sales and profits at the demand of the Board and Shareholders.

Electronic Arts, along with other Tier 1 Gaming companies like Activision, don't actually "hate" used games, they're just extremely greedy. They saw that there were numerous amounts of people who were simply renting games or buying pre-owned instead of forking over $60 for their sub-par games. Being at the beck and call of Stockholders, they saw this as an opportunity to profit.

Companies have used Serial Keys on PC Games for years, but Piracy on the PC was too big to make it matter, which is why most Gaming companies refuse to even publish on the PC or they'll delay the PC release to weeks or months after the console version launches.

The Online Pass was originally planned to be the same as PC games, requiring an entire Serial Key to even play the game. Unfortunately for them, when they did a Focus Group and polled them, they found overwhelming backlash at the idea. Undeterred, though, they thought of ways to introduce it because they felt there was sufficient profit to be made in doing so.

They decided to introduce it as just a Multiplayer component, since this was the core of the Gaming market they wanted to corner. They knew they'd upset Gamers, but they also knew that people would eventually come to accept it and submit to it, which they have. The idea, in reality, is to slowly introduce ever-increasing restrictions to test how consumers react and gauge their response for the future.

Through slow introduction, by locking out Multiplayer, they have now moved on to Single Player restrictions like the games RAGE, Batman: Arkham City, etc. Activision has taken the lead in a new study with the Call of Duty: Elite, which is a study of how people will respond to a subscription-based service. This service, in their eyes, guarantees a steady stream of income from Gamers.

Unfortunately, Gamers seem to have accepted and submitted to that as well, forever changing the landscape of the Gaming sector. It's going to be interesting to see the next step in the process, as it will no doubt upset Gamers. But, if the past is any indication of the future, nothing good can come of this.

I don't see why Gamers are defending companies like this, saying that it's okay to do it because things are "optional" and aren't "shoved down your throats" like some. This logic is heavily flawed, because with each new restriction the Game companies get bolder and bolder, inching ever closer to the final step of having complete activation of Console games.

I hope that never happens, and I don't see how it can based on the article I wrote before this, but the future will tell.


  1. The gamers I've found that constantly defend the corporate policies of their favorite companies are usually morons who have more money than brains or their kids with rich parents and not adults who have to work for their money and remember what gaming used to be like back in the 80's and 90's.

    I myself worked off and on in the industry for 4, almost 5, years. I've done design and actual beta testing back when being a real beta tester actually meant something. You were getting paid either in cash by the hour or by getting a free copy of the game or most of the time BOTH. Now, there are no "real" beta tests because the CEO's figured out they could get the gaming populace to do their jobs for them and even PAY THEM to let them do it....(Pay now and get Beta Access to etc etc!!)

    Corporate policies and money grubbing are destroying the industry and the gamers who make the industry don't care. It's a sad sad state of affairs brother, sad indeed.

  2. I wanted to commend you on taking the time to expose the truth of the gaming industry.

    I also wanted to politely request that you consider to do a blog post about the recent news about Capcom's On Disc 'DLC'. I would greatly appreciate your input on that.


  3. Since you said "but Piracy on the PC was too big to make it matter", now you mus write an article about piracy and how corporations used this excuse to bail out their failures :)

    1. I will write an article very soon about the correlation between Publishers/Developers and Piracy. It should be an interesting tidbit of information to know and you'll find out the reality of how the PC Game Market & Piracy affect the Game Industry.

      Here's a hint: Publishers/Developers like to exaggerate.

  4. I won't buy a game until I pirate it first. My golden rule. With all the backwards crap of the industry these days, it's the only way to go. You could say that it's a bad practice and it's stealing...but then what would you say to a dev team who put out an unfinished game with a cool trailer and no demo? I'll take getting a game for free and playing it an ample amount before deciding whether they get my 60 dollars over a company trying to deceive me to get my money.

    It's a way for the consumer to even the score. I know some don't share my piracy sentiment..but I just feel its a great way to weed out the pretenders and to get the dev teams of the games I love as much money as possible.

    1. Wow. Just wow. No demo? Don't buy. Just because a Ferrari dealership won't let you test drive a car doesn't mean you can go steal one. This "I want what I want, when I want, and how I want" entitlement attitude is for children. Grow up, buddy.

    2. Piracy is not stealing, you moron.

      If you could make a fully functional copy of the Ferrari at the dealership by waving your hand at it, would you do so and try it out first?

  5. "Online passes" introduce the concept of "used" to "used games". In all areas outside of digital media, "used" actually means something that's been visibly used and/or depreciated. Why should we expect used games to be any different?

    They're also a way to redirect a revenue stream back to the people who actually created said games, rather than letting people who had no hand in the game's creation profit from their work (Gamestop claims to have profited 2.6 BILLION from used sales in 2011).

    In my mind, it's a really good compromise. Consumers still have the choice to buy used, and the option to upgrade their used product to new status if they like.

    The situation is a little gray when it comes to locking out content for single player games, but the examples so far have been really tame. You're not missing anything if you didn't play as Catwoman or explore the sewers of Rage (I never even bothered entering the code for Rage and didn't feel like I was missing anything). Also, the people who own high end consoles and have no internet connection are a very small minority. By the time the next generation of consoles roll out, this will be even less of a concern.

    I would like to see more outrage directed at the Gamestops of the world, quite frankly: Why hasn't the price of used games gone down to offset the cost of missing an online pass?

    1. While I completely agree that GameStop gouges their prices, It's a shame that you aren't outraged at Online Passes and the like.