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PixlTalk Episode 53: You Shall Not (Online) Pass!!!!

Are Online Passes enough to protect a convoluted games market?

Angelo Grant joins the heroes this week as we take on another evildoer in the industry of gaming … Online Passes! With the recent controversy revolving around Kingdoms of Amalur’s (which is amazing by the way) day one DLC, people are in an uproar. Are publishers wrong for using these crude tactics to protect their big bucks? Or are we gamers simply idealists who refuse to acknowledge the video game industry as a business? You decide this week on PixlTalk.

David Jaffe Interview



Angelo Grant Staff Writer

02/10/2012 at 07:29 AM

Quick note on that Jaffe interview, and yes I know we already have a content flag, but Jaffe takes things to another level when he talks.  He sounds like a character from Reservoir Dogs, and the interview is audio, not text, so just be aware that you will hear F-bombs used for about every part of speech multiple times over should you listen to it.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

02/10/2012 at 10:43 AM

Wow, my mike really was buggin out. Dunno why the volume on it was so low, but Ill try a different set up next time. Sorry bout that guys!

Vic Roman Graphic Designer

02/10/2012 at 01:01 PM

Here's a good example of how the online pass can potentially hurt a game. The other day I took battlefield 3 over to a friend's so we could get him in on multiplayer, or at least let him try it out. After the game installed we remembered about the online pass, so instead just ended up not playing it. As a result, he didn't play the game and hasn't bought it.

Nick DiMola Director

02/17/2012 at 02:05 PM

I feel absolutely no sympathy for publishers who aren't turning a big enough profit and using the online pass to dissuade used game purchases. Used sales are a part of their industry - like it or not. The rules of capitalism dictate that you need to change your business plan if you aren't able to turn a profit. The online pass is certainly a means of doing this, but it's not going to be a lasting solution.

If they want to turn a profit, they need to start changing budgets. Just like Jesse wrote in his editorial, the AAA model is not a lasting one. We need properly priced games, we need smaller budgets and smaller scoped games, we need more business savvy publishers who want to shift and change along with the market.

I refuse to buy games with online passes. They hurt consumer rights and they harm the historical integrity of games. How will future generations play the Catwoman missions in Batman when the game is no longer in print? The answer is, they won't. Thanks online passes!


02/17/2012 at 06:28 PM

I agree with all of that Nick. I really want to play Reckoning someday and I might or might not buy it new depending on my budget, but I'm not going to forget about all the controversy raised over the online passes.

Online passes don't say good business to me. To me online passes are indicative of desperation. Just like how airlines or credit card companies have to start making up new fees out of nowhere to pull in more revenue. It's just desperation and an illogical solution to a much larger problem. Jesse's AAA problem article was the first time I've heard a really solid survey of the situation and then an argument against the AAA model. When successful companies like Activision, whom rake in billions in profit and hold the reigns over the most successful franchises in entertainment history, are still  laying people off, restructuring, and even loosing money at times, that's not the fault of used games or piracy it's the fault of bad business and philosophy. It's easy for the suits to point fingers at used games, but it's obviously not easy for them to scrutinize their own budgets, business practices, and even their own salaries.

Mike Wall Staff Alumnus

02/17/2012 at 07:55 PM

I agre with both of your statements, but it worries me that people will simply abandon games and developers that quite frankly have very littel control over these buisiness tactics. To not buy Kingdoms of Amalur doesn't really punish EA, they will continue to use these tactic reguardless. Who it does hurt however is 38 studios, a development team that made a great game. I'm not saying that people should buy the game because of that, but I think if people truly want to disuade publisher we need to find a better way to do it.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

02/17/2012 at 08:35 PM

I agree with a lot of what you say, Nick. I think you and I are curators of games, and not having an entire gaming experience on that disc is going to cause problems later on. I purposely bought the disc version of the GTA IV DLC episodes. I also bought a second copy of Dragon Age: Origins (the Ultimate Edition) so I'd have a hard copy of all that DLC. While I can't say I won't buy games that have online passes (too many games I love come with them), I agree that it's a bad practice.

I like the way that Mass Effect 2 did it. The Cerberus Network gave players new weapons and missions, many of which were free. This was content that got dished out over time, and it felt like you were rewarded for buying new. The content wasn't vital to the experience, though, so if you didn't have the pass you didn't miss out on anything major.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

02/17/2012 at 08:30 PM

I've heard more than one person talk about the fact that consumers will pass over lower priced games because of a perceived lack of value. But as a retailer, I never found this to be the case. The Spec Ops series on PSX was a HUGE seller, and it came out at 9.99. Katamari Damacy on the PS2 got a lot of attention because it was so different, but the 19.99 price point helped a lot too. The same goes for 2K Sports' last ESPN NFL game, and this generation we have Deadly Premonition as a great example. Yes, in the case of DP it had a lot of buzz around enthusiast sites, but at 20 bucks it was an easy impulse purchase.

I've said for a long time that we need some games to come out at lower prices, and I think publishers can usually tell which games need to hit that price point. There are plenty of games this generation that I've wanted to purchase, but I know that the game isn't quite good enough for that 60 bucks. Some examples would be Wet, Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard, Splatterhouse, and Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom. In the case of Splatterhouse and Matt Hazard, I picked them up for a song, and had a good time with them.

Usually, these "B" grade games are new IPs, or relaunches of old IPs that a lot of people don't remember. These are perfect for lower price points, but you need marketing to back it up. It might just be enough to get people to stop and take a look, and hopefully that means the game is profitable, leading to a sequel that's worth a higher price.


02/17/2012 at 08:48 PM

We definitely need to stop with the "everything must cost $60 mentality" as well, so I agree with you. Majin! I want that game! Ben Sprague over at 1UP told me all about that game and got me interested in it.

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