Chủ Nhật, 17 tháng 7, 2011

The used-game wars: online experience sold separately

The used-game wars: online experience sold separately

Sony declares war with the Playstation Pass

We’ve been spoiled. All of us. The word “free” has permeated our entertainment and settled in, nesting itself deep within our psyche, so much so that if asked to pay for a service that once was free, we, the peasants of this free kingdom, take up arms and overthrow the royalty. The Internet offers many an outlet of free wares, videos, forums, etc., to keep us from being productive; gaming has become increasingly free to play as consumers move into the social media-controlled future. But all of this is about to change. Lines have been drawn, sides need to be taken: the used-game wars have begun.
Used games have long been the go-to source for picking up the somewhat latest titles at a reasonable price. Games in general are expensive, and becoming ever more so as the technology used to create them increases in quality and output. At least that’s what the industry would like you to think. Way back when the Super Nintendo had its glory days, cartridges with 1/100th the scope of graphics and technology were selling for, on average, about $60 new. Then came Gamestop. Why pay more when you can have the same product, slightly used, at a significantly lowered price?
Through Gamestop’s trade-in practice, a customer can bring in used games (that were completed, hated, received as a gift, etc., there are no rules other than they be in tip-top condition) and receive either store credit or cash in exchange. These used games are then turned around and sold back to other customers, marked down from retail price — sometimes up to $20 less than new, sometimes only $5. The money collected from these games never reaches the developers who published the games, though. Gamestop pockets it all. Who might have a problem with this?
When THQ’s Homefront hit the market a few months ago (and was less than perfect), it came with a one-time online pass to access the multiplayer mode. Players who bought the game new (and I’m sorry if you did) were able to input a code and have access to the complete online experience. For those who read the bad reviews and decided to wait a few months and try it used, playing online would cost about $5 dollars. In other words, THQ set in motion a loophole for developers to exploit, one that becomes full-scale warfare with the upcoming Playstation Pass.
The PSN Pass was hinted about on an image of an upcoming Playstation 3/Resistance 3 bundle. After many a flame war and argument regarding Sony’s intentions with the Pass erupted on forums across the Internet, its true purpose was revealed: the PSN Pass will be a way for the manufacturer to siphon a bit of the used-game market into its greedy coffers.
This means no more free multiplayer; gone are the days of jovial online camaraderie when gamers discover that, having paid once, they must now pay again to really experience the entirety of the game. Resistance 3 will be the first of Sony’s games to incorporate this new Pass, and so we ask: what will be the benefit of buying used?
If a used game sells for $10 dollars less than retail, with the addition of a $5 dollar pass to play online, why not spend the extra five dollars and purchase new? This is what Sony and the rest of the industry have been itching for, a way to destroy the used-game market from which they see not a penny.
Don’t lose hope. There are plenty of options for a far more rewarding online experience that won’t require purchasing the same game twice; it’s just that now, in the bleak fog of war, they will be increasingly harder to find.
Chris O’Neal is the last of his kind, a Time Lord searching out hope and humanity in his TARDIS. Follow him on Twitter @AgentONeal.

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