Blog: There is nothing ‘corporate greedy’ about online passes

By on July 17, 2011

A developer is trying to save a buck for himself. What’s wrong with that?

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First Impressions
My reaction is

There have been lots of complaints recently about online passes being implemented in games from different publishers such as EA, THQ, and most recently Sony Computer Entertainment.  If you didn’t know, an online pass is a code you get once you purchase a game new. You are required to enter this code on PSN/XBL in order to be able to play the online multiplayer portion of the game. This doesn’t change much if you buy the game new since you still get the same product with the only change being entering the code. However if you purchase the game used or borrow it from a friend you need to purchase the online pass through PSN/XBL in order to play the multiplayer. This sparked a heated debate on whether this is a proper step forward for the industry or a step backwards in that consumers who buy 2nd hand games get an incomplete product .


People who have been overly critical of this new implementation should take a deep breath and rethink about just how significant this addition is.  Online passes is simply a way that publishers make sure that they can get something out of every consumer that purchases their game. Now this is not necessarily a bad thing; it’s simply a move to stop the used game market from getting 100% profit from every game they sell. You see, when you buy a used game from GameStop or whatever videogame shop you frequent the publisher and developer get nothing out of that purchase. Essentially all your money is going to the store you bought the game from. This is bad news both for the publishers and developers as their products are essentially being resold without them getting anything out of it even though they published or made the game respectively.

The online pass system is not a hit directed at consumers but rather at big evil corporations *hint* Gamestop *hint* who are getting HUGE profits out of the 2nd hand market. Publishers and developers are simply trying to protect their products because it’s them who made and, and it’s them who should get at least something out of it NOT the videogame stores out there.

The online pass system is really not as bad as it seems. If you buy a game used then you pay a small onetime fee to unlock the multiplayer portion of the game. This way you are actually giving your dollars to the people that make the game, rather than the store that just happens to sell it.  It’s a good way to continue supporting the developers and it also hits the 2nd hand market well by forcing it to become not as significant than it currently is. Personally I support the decision by the publishers to use online passes and you should too. It’s a very small fee to pay if you get the game used, and it comes at no expense if you purchase the game brand new.


A young zergling from Bahrain dreaming of one day magically morphing into an ultralisk. 20 years old, 2nd year of university, and a lover of all types of games specially RPGs and RTSs.

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  • Jedimtrick

    Yeah. Thing is, why take away a feature that was supposed to be free? I mean, why cant they do like Battlefield Bad Company 2 and GIVE the DLC for the people who buy it new?

    You see? Not punishing the second hand buyer. Instead, reward the first buyer so he thinks he is getting more than he paid for. How does that sound?

    • Abdulla Fadhel

      They do man, they usually do give even more incentives for the online pass. For example, if you had the online pass you would get some additional items and some DLC in titles like the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age 2 on both systems.

    • Abdulla Fadhel

      They do man, they usually do give even more incentives for the online pass. For example, if you had the online pass you would get some additional items and some DLC in titles like the PS3 version of Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age 2 on both systems.

  • Guest

    Developers gain next to nothing from this. You are all defending millionaires and billionaires. If this were distributed among the actual developers, there might be an argument. But they do not get a raise after the invention of “online pass”. They get told how the economy is bad, so they are lucky to have a job at all.

    The developers lives remain exactly the same, while CEOs and publishers who create nothing reap all of the rewards. If you want to argue about justice and fairness, there are plenty of more worthy subjects. Why not find one of them to defend rather than fighting to line the pockets of the ultra-wealthy publishers who create nothing.

  • cool dude

    no, online passes are pure greed from developers and publishers. when you buy a laptop do you have to pay the manufacture to use the internet on it? NO. when you buy a used car do you have to make pay the manufacture to use the air condition? NO. when you buy any used product to to have to pay the manufacture to use some feature in that product ? NO! then why should we pay 10 bucks publishers to play online? if you dont want your game to be bought used make a GOOD game that people want to buy right away. and the main reason the second hand market grew so much in gaming is because of the VERY high price of games. if games were 30 bucks once there realesed nobody would want to buy a 20 bucks used copy, they would just say “well i can get a brand new one for 30, why get a used one for 20?” but when you look at a game that has been released for a long time you say “why shell out 60 bucks for it when i can get it for 20?” the reason the second hand market grew so much is because of the greed of publishers and developers, it wasnt enough for them making millions and millions before right? they needed more. i mean it wasnt like for the past 30 years or so publishers and developers have been extremely profitable. no they need to milk out ever penny out of our wallets dont they? 

    • Abdulla Fadhel

      What the hell are you saying. You are linking things out of proportion. How do you compare a Laptop with a damn online pass. Stop trying to make arguments that don’t make any sense. For your information, you do realize that most old games get ridiculous price cuts after a while either through the platinum program or simply just because they are old. There are plenty of great old games that you can get fully NEW for 30 bucks or less. Go on Amazon and see for yourself. Lastly, you can you know play the frikken 5bucks and play online, is that too much for them to ask for?

    • Abdulla Fadhel

      What the hell are you saying. You are linking things out of proportion. How do you compare a Laptop with a damn online pass. Stop trying to make arguments that don’t make any sense. For your information, you do realize that most old games get ridiculous price cuts after a while either through the platinum program or simply just because they are old. There are plenty of great old games that you can get fully NEW for 30 bucks or less. Go on Amazon and see for yourself. Lastly, you can you know play the frikken 5bucks and play online, is that too much for them to ask for?

      • Stickdog226

        I disagree.  It’s called “spending money wisely”.  You would have me pay $60+ to a developer for a mediocre game with little to no replay value; shell out an additional $5-$20 for DLC that may or may not be worth the price (and incidentally, may simply unlock content already provided on the disc), on top of whatever subscription to XBOX live; shell out an additional fee for extra controllers and stands and headsets and microphones and cameras and chargers for the add-ons and sometimes for console repairs; we have to pay for things like extra weapon packs or song packs, armor, vehicles, outfits and other miscellaneous items; and now, as if paying for all these things wasn’t enough, now if we want to play online with a game already purchased, a game that we paid for with our hard earned money, a game we developers want MORE of our money in the form of an online pass.  Do you not see how aggravating and frustrating that would be?

        “There are plenty of great old games that you can get fully NEW for 30 bucks or less.”  Really.  So are you now saying that we’ve been overcharged for games in the beginning?  That all we have to do is wait awhile for the product to come down in price?  How much profit do the developers make for a new game priced at $30 versus $60?

        • Thehandsometroll

          So your money matters but the developer’s money means nothing to you? And you call them greedy?

          • Stickdog226

            Again thehandsometroll, developers have already been compensated.  Is it fair for developers to ask full retail price ($60) from retailers for a new game?  Yes.

            Is it fair for developers to ask full retail price ($60) from individuals for a new game?  Yes.

            Is it fair for developers to ask full retail price ($60) from retailers for a used game?  No.
            …from individuals for a used game?  No.

            Yes, they are greedy.

          • Thehandsometroll

            They don’t ask $60 for used games. Reevaluate your argument.

          • Stickdog226

            I know they don’t ask $60 for used games.  Because they’re USED.  AGAIN, the developers have ALREADY BEEN COMPENSATED for the sale of the new game when it was sold to the retailer.

            If you’re forbidden to buy used games, you can:
            a)  not buy them at all, in which case developers earn -0-
            b)  steal them, in which case developers earn -0-
            c)  buy them at full retail ($60)

          • Moiz Mansoor V.

            IIRC, it’s more to do with the fact that you only own a LICENSE to play the game, and not the game itself (unless explicitly stated otherwise), per se, much like it is with the Sony PS3. The gameconsole is still legally the property of the developer, as opposed to the media the game is on. One could argue semantics about the “game” and the medium it is on being one and the same, but suffice to say that the “game” is effectively an IP of the dev, no?

            But you could also argue that IP has not been violated, since you’re not impersonating the developer or publisher in any way. LOL grey area much?

          • Stickdog226

            Hah!  Semantics, indeed.  You’re absolutely right Moiz, it is a grey area and for good reason. 

            Yes, I am purchasing the USE of the code/game, not the code/game itself.  Yes, the game is the IP of the developer.  Yes, legally I don’t own the console, I pay a one-time rental fee to use it ad infinitum.  (To really twist your brain, try to define fair use).  The sale and resale of used games is legal precisely BECAUSE it does not violate the IP.  Again, referring to the EULA, I’m pretty sure it explicitly bans activities such as piracy and unauthorized reproduction but is mum on individual sales.

            But ownership, that’s something else.  If someone breaks into my house and steals all the videogames I keep, do I notify the developer and say “Hey, your games where stolen.  Provide me replacements for X, Y & Z.” – absolutely not.  No developer in their right mind would do that. 

            That license is MINE and therefore I OWN IT.  I OWN it and therefore I can SELL it or GIVE IT AWAY or THROW IT AWAY.  I can’t transfer DLC because it’s tied to MY account (btw I also OWN the DLC because I paid for it).  I’m not making copies for sale because that would be piracy (and I don’t necessarily think electronic piracy is wrong – in some instances I do and some I don’t).

      • duh

        cool dude is right actually. What about used books, movies or audio cds? How ridiculous it would be if we had to pay the publishers for those used items.
        And it’s not about the amount of money that they are charging, it’s just the principle. They sell one unit of item and expect to gain from it everytime is switches hands. That’s bullshit

    • Stickdog226

      Cool Dude, you’re right on every single point. 

    • Jmetrick

      no your wrong. i work in the auto industry. ever had parts replaced on your car? YES. ever thought where those parts come from and who the money goes to after you pay for it? APPEARENTLY NOT. parts companies such as motorcraft is a ford brand, and ac delco is a general motors brand for example. if you buy a used car from a private seller, or private owned used car dealer (gamestop), the auto manufacturer (devs) doesnt get a dime from your purchase. thats the way it is until parts are replaced on the car (purchase of online pass). now thats how the automotive market works.

      as for the internet, you have to pay for that right? do you think it all goes to comcast or verizon or whatever you got? payed for any internet security/virus protection or any downloaded software? after all if it wasnt for the computer manufacturer, companies like verizon and comcasts source of income would only be through television. some companies wouldnt even exist

  • CoD511

    I don’t mind this. The money should be going to the developers who worked hard on the game and not GameStop etc.

  • Moe

    The idea behind this is very simple. It is just to make sure that the company gets some profit and controls the sales of their games. Nothing wrong with that. It’s not greed, it’s just business.

  • The_Con-Sept

    Take this for example here. Warhawk came out in 07. According to some sites it sold only around a half million copies. Back in 2010 they reached over 1 million registered players. That means they would have made more if the game had this pass. But because they do not they are stuck with a half million sold while they continue to pay for their online servers which consist of 100′s of ps3′s every month. However there are people who hate online only games such as Warhawk. But when Warhawk came out it was 40 for the game by itself and 60 bundled with a Bluetooth Mic. But that still wasn’t enough for you. I say this is something that will help developers stay in business. But I also find it funny how you would complain about this when every shooter that comes out has a much shorter campaign every time. I started buying arcade games because they hold my interest more than an RPG now a days. You online freaks need to start keeping your games that you buy. Stop trading them in when a new one comes out. I am tired of trying to find someone to play counter strike with.

    • Stickdog226

      Exactly how do you have 1 million people playing a game if there are only 500,000 copies? 
      Maybe 2 people are playing at the same time.
      Did player 2 pay full retail price?  Should player 2 be charged?
      Now there’s a CONsept:  Developers create a game that supports multiplayer (1, 2 3 or 4 on 1 disc) but in order for player 2 etc. to play, they have to charge additional money for a pass so you and the person sitting next to you can play.

      Warhawk was $40 back in 2007 (game only), $60 with Bluetooth Mic.  Would you pay $40-$60 in 2011 for a game that came out back in 2007? 

      • Thehandsometroll

        Your argument makes no sense. Are you a troll?

        • Stickdog226

          No, I’m trying to understand your argument.  I’m not convinced.  I enjoy debate (with an occasional PPPBBBTTHTHTH thrown in every now and then) and arguing my position with my views.  Don’t you?

  • Stickdog226

    Developers do NOT lose money in the used game market.  At some point, that game was sold, whether it was to a retailer or an individual, as a new game.  Developers received full price for that game AT THAT TIME and therefore have been fully compensated for the sale of that unit.  Once the new game has been purchased and played, it is no longer new, it is used.  DLC is irrelevant because DLC cannot be transferred with ownership of the game.  The used game can now be sold at a reduced price because it is no longer new.  It may not have the original case; it may not have the original instruction booklet; it may have a scratch or two; why do developers want full retail price for a used game?  Greedy indeed.  Again, game developers already received full compensation for their products at the time of the initial sale.

    I say anyone who wants to pay full retail price for a used game is full of crap and should put their money where their mouth is.  I’ll pay full retail price for a used game if I can return it to the developer within 30 days for a full refund.  I’ll pay full retail price for a used game when YOU pay full retail price for used Atari cartridges, used Nintendo cartridges (all systems), used PS1/PS2 discs, used Sega games, etc. 

    I don’t care about online play, so I will not be redeeming any such code. 

    • GeniusTroll101

      Do u work in the friggin business? no? so shut the fuck up.

      • Stickdog226

        Freedom of speech – what a concept!

        Suck it down!

        • Thehandsometroll

          sorry, wrong region.

    • Thehandsometroll

      Developers don’t ask for full retail price for used games. They ask for $10 for online play only. Your argument is full of crap.

      • Moiz Mansoor V.

        Stickdog226, I don’t see Thehandsometroll mentioning that paying full-price for a used game should be mandatory. He’s just against the policy of retailers selling used games and keeping all the money to themselves. He’s not completely wrong, but I’d rather see the developer(s) approach used-game retailers and cut a deal with them, rather than ask me to pay extra for online play. Why not cut into the market that’s causing the problem in the first place, rather than let it exist AND force people who want to play online to buy a pass? It’s kinda counter-intuitive, no?

        • Thehandsometroll

          They are cutting into the market. By charging the consumers, retail stores will be forced to lower prices of used games otherwise people would rather buy unused games. This will benefit developers because they will get $10 from everyone who wants to play online from a used game and it will benefit consumers who don’t want to play online as used game prices will go down.

          • Moiz Mansoor V.

            True, but then shouldn’t the $10 be reduced from the price of the game itself as well, since you are effectively getting only single-player functionality and shouldn’t pay the same price that a “full copy” of the game warrants? Mind you I am suggesting this only for brand-new games that have just launched.

            This would also encourage used-game retailers to lower prices as well.

          • Stickdog226

            That’s one way developers could maximize their profit:  Offer BOTH a robust single-player for $45 (example price) AND a robust single-player game with online or multiplayer capability for ($60).  I might want to check out the single-player campaign and would be willing to shell out $45; if I like it, and want to check out the multiplayer online aspect, then doesn’t it make sense to trade the 1st one in for credit towards the 2nd one instead of purchasing both?

        • Stickdog226

          Hi Moiz! 
          In response to being counter-productive, I’d say…somewhat.  Why shouldn’t retailers buy and sell used games and keep the profit for themselves?  If it’s such a problem (which it isn’t), why don’t developers offer to buy back used games and offer credit towards the purchase of newer games?

          • Moiz Mansoor V.

            True, but then this would create a possible situation that could be exploited by finishing a game fast enough and then selling it back to the developer. It’s effectively like you’ve paid less than full-price for a brand-new game, which technically constitutes a loss if it’s done soon enough, right?

          • Stickdog226

            Is it possible?  Sure, anything’s possible.  But is it probable?  I don’t believe so.  It’s inevitable that there will be some abuse.  I think the main problem is that developers are not presently willing to disclose EXACTLY HOW MUCH it costs them vs. what kind of profit they get.  For example, Uncharted probably cost quite a bit to develop initially; Uncharted 2 and 3 are building on assets already put in place and therefore development costs are less.  Don’t get me wrong, they develop new code, new artwork etc. but the point is, now with previous experience development of this title is easier than if they had to start from scratch.  And if it’s easier to develop, then conceivably it takes less time to make and refine the game prior to release.  How many times have us gamers bought an epic game only to have the experience ruined by hastily-churned out sequels?  (cough, Silent Hill, cough).  I also disagree that the developer would be taking a loss – for example; I buy “Scratchit & Stank 11″ from Stickdog Games for $60 but beat it in less than 1 week and decide to return it for “Mountain Dew Gator Crossing Adventure”.  The developer credits me $30 but I still have to pay another $30 for the 2nd game.  My initial investment of $60 + an additional $30 = 1 game in my possession; I’ve effectively paid $90 for 1 game.  The developer has STILL made money off BOTH transactions.  The question is, HOW MUCH PROFIT did they make…and I think that’s the real issue.  How much profit can they make.  I wouldn’t have a problem with this system, if they’re worried about abuse, they can flag that account or pro-rate the refund/credit the give.

            I have a pretty good sized game library that includes PS1, PS2 & PS3 titles with a small helping of PSP and Gamecube titles.  Some of these games I have purchased new and some were purchased used.  Some were given to me.  Some I bought from a seller on eBay.  But if you trace the transactions back to the original sale, at one point that game was sold brand new ($60 or $40 or $30, it’s irrelevant).

            I think the main issue is not that developers are unjustly compensated for their work; I believe the problem is that developers decline to disclose exactly what they consider “a fair profit”.  How much profit should they make?  Personally, I think they should make as much money as they can off a title (ex. Capcom milking their Resident Evil and Street Fighter Franchises) – but I can’t see myself justifying purchasing Madden 2009 and then Madden 2010 when there’s only been slight gameplay or graphics changes.  Again, slightly different game but re-using the same assets with slight tweaks.  Why should I buy both brand new when I don’t get my money’s worth?

            As a developer, I have to pay someone to code, test, debug, create art, create environment, all the things that it takes to actually create a working game,  I also have to pay salaries to these people, along with secretaries and other miscellaneous office workers.  I need to pay my bills and pay for business licenses and manage my taxes.  I understand that running a business is not cheap.  What developers need to realize is that it is a business, that their celebratory parties where they treat their employees to company picnics or vacations SHOULD NOT be factored into the cost of the product.  That’s a business expense and can be deducted as such on their taxes. 

          • vien

             everyone here is saying $60 is too much for me i have to pay $100-$110 for a new game would pay that every time?!! hence while i get used games because it so much cheaper after wating around 6-12 months

      • Stickdog226

        Developers shouldn’t be paid several times for the same item. 

        I don’t care if they want $10 for online play or $1.  THAT ARGUMENT is full of crap.

  • Beorach

    I have less of a problem with this than with the preorder bonuses specific to video game retailers.  It would seem fairer that the Gamestops of the world would have to share what they’re getting rather than have just the multiplayer enthusiasts contribute…

  • Ryan Taylor

    bad service causes piracy and this is bad service just wait till the ever magical keygens appear ide only expect the dubious microsoft of such a wallet raping plan but wow this takes the cake i deffinatly see this failing as compainies are even laughing at ea and saying we will never use these passes ea have become a laughing stock who make shitty games so they need to make online passes so they dont go bust which if they keep this up they will

  • vien

    would you pay $100 to $110 for a new game? well that is what we australian have to pay and that is the reason why i get used game abit more because of the price and the online pass is just annoying don’t even really need if they lower the price then i would get it new 60 is maybe or else i will wait till it’s 40-30 if it’s a good game

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