Kingdoms of Amalur – Online Pass Nonsense

Online passes are a terrible idea.  By forcing the paid-for product to be a worse investment than the pirated copy game publishers are pushing more customers to forgo paying to jump through multiple hoops to play their games and just download it.  By trying to make some money off the used game market the publishers are coming across as greedy and archaic.

EA seems to be leading the pack with it’s ‘Online Pass’ program.  The purpose of this initiative is to cut out parts of the game (for most EA sports titles it is the online multiplayer modes) for second hand purchasers.  It was recently discovered that in the much awaited game from Curt Shilling’s 38 Studios ‘Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning’ a whole factions worth of questline in the new RPG franchise would be gated by an online activated code.  If you buy the game brand new, you get to enter the code and have access to this content, if you buy it used you don’t.

What other industry has a large thriving used sales market?  Lets choose used cars.  Imagine for a second the uproar that would occur if the automotive market tried something like this.  Let’s say that Ford decided that brand new owners could activate a feature that would make the car more complete – it would be workable without it but not the best experience – something like limiting the horsepower or expanding the trunk space.  Used buyers would not be able to get the most out of their cars and they would be harder to sell.  Would people allow this to happen?  No, they would not.  So let’s not allow video games to get away with it either.

Curt replied thusly when a thread on the studio’s message boards exploded:

“It’s clear the intent right? To promote early adopters and MUCH MORE IMPORTANT TO ME, REWARD fans and gamers who commit to us with their time and money when it benefits the company.”

Curt goes on to, illogically, compare this gated content to free Day 1 DLC which is a crap way of explaining this.  I like Curt, and I like what he has been doing, and I like how he has engaged truthfully with the community in the past.  I really do think that he THINKS that this is free Day 1 DLC and that he has been truly taken for a ride by EA.

“… there is no nefarious attempt to do anything under handed here, you get the content, NO MATTER WHAT PLATFORM you purchase the game for, or what outlet you buy from, FOR FREE”

Sigh. Tsk, tsk Curt.  Change this medium and see if it makes sense.  Try the car analogy.  Yes, Ford deserves to make money and reward initial purchasers of their products.  Just like you do – but find another way to do it, this is a dick move.

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