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Rant n’ Rave: The Problem with Project Ten-Dollar July 16, 2011

Posted by Brandon C. in Rants.

A colleague and I were in the midst of a heated “debate” the other day about Project Ten-Dollar after I pointed out a disturbing trend in the industry today. It’s ignorant to say the used game market doesn’t effect a game’s new sales – I myself have bought used, as have you I’m sure. A good 90% of gamers have taken advantage of GameStop and other used retailer’s trade-in programs to bulk up their game libraries with used titles – it just makes sense to purchase games cheaply after they’ve matured on the shelves for a while.

But the trend we’re seeing that started with EA’s Project Ten-Dollar has grown to an alarming peak – there isn’t a game company or title in sight today that DOESN’T make some use of a “Season Pass” or “Online Pass.”

Now, I’m not against developers making money – Video Games are an Industry, of course. To continue making games, one has to turn a profit to pay employees and other expenses. It’s a business, and to say I’m against it would be hypocritical.

Publishers are large, corporate entities only concerned with turning a profit, and there’s no nice way to say that. Sure, some of their employees are gamers (if you’re not then you’re in the wrong business) and have a great passion for the industry and it’s consumers. Others give off the impression they really don’t give two shits, like Activision’s Robert Kotick. He’s become the de facto bad guy of the gaming industry – the corporate Satan at the top that everyone hates. Let’s be honest – he comes off as a total prick.

He has to make money for Activision, or he’s out of a job as well as the thousands of people his company employs. So he has to find ways to make used market companies like GameStop less cash, and more for his own.

Be that as it may, the disturbing trend I’m referring to is the “Season Pass” or “Online Pass” and the VIP codes included with just about every damn game on the market today.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, allow me to explain.

When you buy a brand new, unopened title, chances are you’ll receive a one-time use code inside the packaging. You use this code to unlock content on the disc, like a map pack or some characters. If you purchase a used title at GameStop and the previous owner used the code, you have to shell out anywhere between $5 and $15 to get that content. Some codes, in the case of sports titles and a few miscellaneous titles, unlock online multiplayer.

THIS, right here, is my problem.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to use these codes. Charging customers $10 to unlock a mode that has been included for the past ten years with every damn game you’ve purchased since Unreal Fucking Tournament is WRONG. FUCKING ASS BACKWARDS GODDAMN WRONG.

Games like Battlefield Bad Company 2 use it RIGHT – A VIP code that includes maps for online multiplayer. They’re not required to play the game, instead expanding upon the default experience.

Games like MORTAL FUCKING KOMBAT that require you to use a code to play online is a fucking ripoff and the cocksucker that thought it was a good idea deserves to die in a fire.

It’s a part of the game! It’s like a grocery store charging for plastic and paper bags. I’m not talking about those “reuseable” cloth bags you can buy for a dollar – those are DLC motherfuckers; not a basic part of the goddamn experience you need to take your fucking groceries home.

I understand if you want to dangle a piece of exclusive DLC in front of my face to get me to purchase a new title instead of a used title. It’s business. But it’s BAD business to retroactively charge for a basic service included with games for the past ten years.

And it’s even worse for these companies to charge us for content that’s already on a disc when we buy it. If you’re going to charge for it, we’d better have to download something more than a 1 MB file to use those “DLC” characters – I’m looking at YOU Marvel VS Capcom 3 and SoulCalibur 4…

If it’s on the disc, it’s a part of the $60 we pay when we buy that game; and that includes online play. We’re already paying Microsoft $60 a year for Xbox Live Gold or whatever you pay for PlayStation Plus.

It’s evil, it;s wrong, and it’s a great way to piss off your target demographic and sell less titles. I don’t see the recording industry suing the pants off of the streaming companies for taking their customers away, and last I checked being a big time recording artist still netted you a pretty penny. So why start now, gaming conglomerates? Find a better way to stick it to GameStop and other used market companies, and not your bread and butter – the gamers.

Again I reiterate:

The RIGHT Way – Charging for exclusive maps, downloadable Day-One DLC and special extra features NOT included on the disc.

The NO QUESTIONS ASKED ABSOLUTE WRONG Way – Charging for online play, on-disc characters and content and disc-based unlocks.

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