Thursday, October 20, 2011

The New High Price of Gaming

In today's tumultuous economy, it can be difficult to stay on top of the latest gaming innovations without breaking the bank, but buying used games is far from a new trend.  Convincing consumers to spend $60 for a new game is harder than ever before, but some companies are making it tough to just stay in the black as a gamer.

Looking at Uncharted 3, the multiplayer portion will require an activation code.  When this title is purchased brand new, the code is in the case and will just need to be redeemed at no extra cost.  However, the code is only valid for a single use.  So when a player trades in Uncharted 3, the person who buys it behind them will not get multiplayer unless they purchase an additional code from the PSN store to activate the online content; the cost being $10.  Within the first few months of a major title release, like Uncharted 3, the savings are typically not very big, somewhere between $5 and $10.  Doing some math would show that buying a used game for $55 or even $50 will grant you absolutely no savings when taking into account the $10 activation code.  At that point, you might as well buy it brand new on release day.

Want to follow Catwoman around Arkham City?  If you buy it used, it's going to cost you.
Uncharted isn't the first title to employ this technique.  Resistance 3 had a very similar system for accessing their entire online multiplayer experience.  Video game giant EA has taken it a step further by asking people to pay for an online pass for all their sports titles.  Access to online or even regular in-game content will be restricted by single-use codes.  EA has outright denied that this kind of behavior is to increase profits by cutting down on used game purchases or piracy, and that they have chosen to do this to enhance the customer experience.  Understandably, there has been very little explanation from EA as to how something like this is beneficial to the customers.

It doesn't take much thought to realize how this is detrimental to a huge demographic of gamers.  My glorious co-blogger Linz almost never buys brand new games.  Now she must do more work research before buying to make sure that she isn't going to be missing content that might have been part of the title's appeal in the first place. 

Did you tap into the Cerberus Network when you bought ME2 used?  Probably not.
The other demographic that will be missing out are renters.  The $15 per month that someone is spending on Gamefly will no longer guarantee them the full content that is expected.  The same goes for renting from Blockbuster, Red Box, and eventually Netflix.

Policies like this make me furious.  I completely understand that the video game industry is first and foremost a business.  Their goal and the goal of shareholders is to make as much profit as possible.  While developers and publishers have the right charge as much as they want, I have the right not to pay, and that is exactly what I intend to do.  Some titles will be unavoidable for me.  I refuse to pass up on the new SSX which is published by EA.  But outside of that, I will make it my goal to avoid buying games that employ the single use code as much as possible.

I won't be able to avoid buying every game that utilizes single use codes.  And I am fully aware that my not purchasing these games won't make anyone change their policy, but at least it helps me feel like I took a tiny little stand for all of us broke gamers out there. 

EA apparently eats money the same way it eats my soul.  They have found a whole new way to make it rain.

1 comment:

Linz said...

Isn't it great that they keep finding ways to nickel and dime us into inevitable gamer-poverty? So unfair. Boo on you, developers! Also if we have to buy a code to play SSX together online I am going to RAGE LIKE NO ONE HAS EVER RAGED BEFORE.