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4 Unfortunate side effects of the Content Pass

They're multiplying!


To those who don’t know, Content Passes(I.E. Kombat Pass, PSN Pass, etc.) are codes inside the case of video games(along with the pamphlet that use to be the game manual) that usually do two things; Either enable you to play online(Battlefield 3, Mortal Kombat,) or give you access to extra content(Batman: Arkham City). The obvious goal of this is to thwart the sale of used games. Used games are a problem for developers because they receive no cut of the profits. There are forums across the net debating the use of these passes. While the developers do have a point, Unfortunately…

.4 No more trading with friends

Every gamer has at some point, traded games with a friend. Now, lets say that  you trade them Arkham City for SkyRim. The next day, you get a phone call asking why he can’t play as Catwoman.  To those who haven’t played Arkham City, the Catwoman DLC is an important part of the narrative. Without it, you are getting a crippled version of the original.

Even worse, that means no online multiplayer. If you loan them battlefield 3, they have the story, and that’s it. Taking away the narrative from a Batman game is one thing, taking away the online from the Battlefield series is criminal.

The Batman issue, however, is especially jarring, because…

3.You can’t use them without Internet

 40% of americans don’t have internet. The online pass does not care about this. If you are one of the many gamers without internet, content passes are preventing you from getting the full experience. Let’s go back to the Batman example. Even if you purchase the game,without internet your paying $60 for an incomplete product. You wouldn’t buy a car without windows, and you wouldn’t buy a light bulb without filament(or Tungsten…or something), so why should you buy an incomplete game?

And even if you do have the internet, you still have problem that could only arise from having content in the form of downloadable codes. You may end up with  a used code, no code at all, or if your really unlucky….


2. They can expire

When I first read the following thread, I literally thought it was a joke. Then I read on, did some research, and apparently this is not an isolated thing. Someone on NeoGaf posted in December about how the online code for their copy of Need For Speed:Hot Pursuit was invalid/expired. There are horror stories all across the net, everyone with the same story, from Battlefield 3 to FIFA ’12. Not only do you have a flawed product if you buy it used, but now you have a time limit on how long  you can wait before being blocked on content.

It can range from anywhere from a year to 18 months. Note that the more popular games keep their $$60 dollar price tag for longer time periods, so in the very worst case scenario, you end up paying full price full price for a broken product. If you think that’s bad, I hope you don’t have a GameFly account, because it’ll also lead to…

1. The end of the rental industry

A few months ago, I started using GameFly. My first 2 games I rented were Left 4 Dead and Dead Space 2. Dead Space 2 I was especially looking forward to, monitoring the release date since its announcement.  Imagine my surprise when I start up the multiplayer EA loved to hype, only to see that I need an Online Pass code, one that could be found in the case. Obviously I was confused; Mainly, because the game didn’t come with a case, only an envelope. To my perpetual bad luck, the same thing happened when I rented Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.

This is a serious problem for GameFly, Blockbuster(Does anyone still use Blockbuster?), Redbox, and all the others. If you rent a game , you have to drop an extra $10 on top of whatever your paying monthly, just to get the full product out of something you won’t even be keeping.

GameFly makes it pretty clear the only way you can receive said code is if you purchase the game, and if you’re buying an older game, by all means go back and read entry #2.

Personally, I understand where their coming from. If I were a developer I would want all of my revenue as well. But on the flipside,screwing over the consumer with time-bomb online passes seems a little unfair. Either two things will happen in the near future: Either games will go fully online, where you get a unique copy for you and you alone, or the pass system will be dropped entirely, putting the used game issue back on the table.

What do you think of online passes?

1 Comment

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  1. John says
    February 12, 2012, 11:41 AM

    1-4 are entirely the fault of pirates who are violating games companies’ rights, not games companies who are having their rights violated.

    And as for physical retail collapsing in general, this is a good thing; when the physical retail stores shut up shop, consumers will save money by getting cheaper games on Steam and the investment currently in physical retail will move to other sectors of the economy, likely somewhere in the high-tech industry.


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