With the amount of gamers flocking to online multiplayer these days, we all knew that the free rides would have to end at some point. While many had turned to those developers with roots in the realm of PC gaming to protect the free game modes online, we can add one more to the list of developers who see no other way to continue offering online modes for console players but to charge a fee. Battlefield 3 seems likely to adopt EA’s Online Pass for those who purchase the game used. But before those of you excited for Battlefield 3 get too upset, you’ll want to hear the reasons the team is giving.
There’s no denying the fact that the biggest phenomenon in gaming at the moment is Call of Duty, and a majority of those players are likely picking up the game exclusively for its online multiplayer. If DICE wants a slice of that action on consoles as well as the PC, Battlefield 3 will need to offer some serious multiplayer action.
The online multiplayer we’ve seen of BF3 so far seems set to be bringing some unique features to draw fans from other franchises, but now we know that the online modes will likely only be free to those who purchase the game at full price. The used games market is a complicated issue these days, and most often troubling for developers struggling to release similar online experiences on both the PC and home consoles.
DICE has made no secret of the fact that they’ve had to compromise for the console versions of the game, and now the team’s executive producer Patrick Bach is explaining the most recent decision. For several reasons, the developers feel that it’s very likely that those who purchase the game used will need to pay extra to get online:
“The whole idea is that we’re paying for servers…If you create a new account there is a big process on how that is being handled in the backend. We would rather have you buy a new game than a used game because buying a used game is only a cost to us; we don’t get a single dime from a used game, but we still need to create server space and everything for you.
“We want people to at least pay us something to create this because we’re paying for it. It was actually a loss for us to have new players. Hopefully people understand why. It’s not to punish people. To us it’s compensation.”
When the reasons are stated that plainly, it’s easy to see why developers and publishers feel their charges for online access are justified. The fact is that while the average price of a video game has remained around $60, the online services offered to each customer have grown exponentially. The publishers and developers are willing to offer them for no additional cost once you’ve invested in the product, but that doesn’t take the used games market into consideration.
Bach is basically saying that for those customers who buy the game from someone other than themselves – like, say, a used games store – the developer never sees another dollar. Without any more cash, the customer gets to use server space and all the new Battlelog features.
However, if you’re going to be picking up the game on release day, then none of this will affect you. But for those who prefer to pick your games up for a discounted price from a third party, they’ll need to show some coin to DICE to get in on the action.
What’s your take on the issue? Do Bach’s points make you see the challenge in a new light, or will the companies and publishers always be less likely to receive sympathy than the average consumer? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.
Battlefield 3 will be released for the Xbox 360, PC and PS3 October 25, 2011. We’ll keep you up to date when, and if, the Online Pass inclusion is made official.
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