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SSX and Amalur's Online Passes: EA/38 Studios defend controversial tactic

You may've heard by now that next month's SSX reboot will include an Online Pass restricting certain content to new buyers (this being a big EA title, it would be more surprising if the feature wasn't included). However, those expecting the controversial measure to cripple online play as in previous releases may be pleasantly surprised, the company told Game Informer today.

“In SSX, players without an Online Pass are able to compete and play in both of SSX's online game modes, Explore and Global Events, with no restrictions,” says EA. However, points earned for a top placement in the latter mode won't be awarded to players without an Online Pass: these will be stockpiled behind a paywall so that “at any time, if a player redeems an Online Pass code, all the credits that they had previously earned in Global Events will be immediately awarded to them.”

However, the company clarifies that this won't keep any actual content from second-hand purchasers: diligent play will allow all events and gear to be unlocked via Explore points, which can still be earned without a Pass.

EA's Online Passes are in the news of late already, thanks to the measure's contentious inclusion in the single-player Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Curt Schilling, founder of Amalur developer 38 Studios, jumped into the fray to reason with fans on the game's forum. “You can argue the merits and effectiveness of it,” asserts Schilling, “but right now it's how it's done.”

As EA did last week, Schilling argues the missions in question aren't locked content so much as day 1 DLC that's “FREE, 100% totally FREE, to anyone that buys a new copy of Reckoning, ANYONE.”

Schilling says the company “MUST make a profit to become what we want to become. THE ONLY way we do that is to make games you CANNOT WAIT TO BUY!”, and that extra content for early adopters is just a tactic aimed at generating that level of enthusiasm. Do you pick up what he's laying down, or will you wait until it's a little cheaper and shorter?

32 comments

  • christian-shaffer - February 16, 2012 6:03 p.m.

    Just so everyone is aware, this is an article about a Season Pass, not the used games industry. Just putting that out there. Having said that, I don't have a problem paying for a season pass as long as it's worth it. If I am paying $50 for a season pass, you damn well better be putting something new out EVERY month. As for used games and saying that you should have to pay full price for a game; that's just plain asinine. Like I said, I have know problem paying for games that I think are worth it, but a lot of the time, I am able to afford those games by selling my old ones. If I wasn't able to sell those used games, do you know how many of the greats I would miss out on? You can say that it's stupid reasoning, but not everyone can just simply afford every new game that comes out, even after saving up there money. In the past 6 months, I have purchased Forza 4, Batman: Arkham City, Borderlands, Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Gears of War 3, Sonic Generations, NBA 2k12, Dead Space 2, and even the COD Elite. I bought every single one of these games at new price and I was able to afford it by selling my old ones. If I had not been able to do this, I would have probably gotten one or two of these games. Publishers need to either lower the prices of their games or console prices need to be lowered. Getting rid of used games and continuing with the current prices is just asking for a huge profit loss.
  • OohWiiUILookJustLikeBuddyHolly - January 31, 2012 4:05 p.m.

    Derp All I want to do is pay less and get everything! How dare these people create an incentive to actually purchase their games! Really people, they aren't withholding significant portions of the game. When they start taking out 50% of the game, then you have a right to complain but until then if you want every last thing in these games you better start saving.. This coming from a jobless 17 year old.
  • Darkhawk - January 31, 2012 7:22 a.m.

    This, unfortunately, is probably the best we can hope for going forwards. I gave the NBA Jam: On Fire Edition DLC (pay to purchase Jambucks, iOS style) a lot of grief, but at least if the content is accessible via grinding, it's not so bad. "diligent play will allow all events and gear to be unlocked via Explore points, which can still be earned without a Pass." The trickier parts are when they actually remove content from Used Games, i.e. the significant Catwoman portions of Arkham City.
  • SalvadorZombie - January 31, 2012 7 a.m.

    Some of you don't seem to get it. They have taken gameplay that, at one point, was part of the package and have held it hostage. I pay for Gamefly, and I buy the games that I want to keep. I also occasionally buy used games. There's nothing wrong with that. As someone else said, you don't see GM and Ford accusing the used car economy for their problems. This is a money grab by these companies, pure and simple. There is no reason to cripple an experience other than to strong-arm us out of money that some of us simply can't afford. The fact that some of you take the publishers' side simply because it isn't your problem is short-sighted and disappointing.
  • StrongPillow - January 31, 2012 8:10 a.m.

    Ok the GM statement is annoying me now. Yes used car sales is out there and the companies may not be public about how it hurts them however you are missing one major problem. GM is NOT getting millions of there cars stolen from them right out of the factory and I am not talking about millions at one time. I mean every time they bring out a new model millions of it gets stolen. Each year. So ya the car thing does not work. MONEY GRAB?!? do you even understand the meaning of that phase!! They set a price and want you to pay the set price like every other company and because YOU can't afford the game YOU think YOU should be entitled to a lesser price. WOW If you can not afford to play games then find another kind of entertainment. I can't afford to collect antique cars so guess what? My garage is empty. I can't afford to goto Mexico every year so guess what? I am sitting in my cold ass house.
  • IHateMakingUserIDs - January 31, 2012 9:41 a.m.

    Just a question, and I'm not trying to be a jerk about it but, If someone is unable to purchase a game why would they think they still deserve access to that game?
  • gazzc - January 31, 2012 10:22 a.m.

    Most of the time if somebody is unable to purchase a game then it is going to be due to financial reasons, £50 for a game you may not like and may not be able to sell on is asking a lot from a kid with nothing but a paper round, or anybody without a lot of spare cash. I would not say anybody 'deserves access' to any game but you could also argue why should you deny yourself access to a game just because you lack the financial means that others may have, considering that if you would have never paid for the game anyway then nobody actually loses out if you do play. In that case you would deny yourself access to a game based on nothing but your principals. Although keep in mind that I feel 100% that if you can afford to buy the game you want then you should pay for it, even if it means you have to wait a while.
  • IHateMakingUserIDs - February 1, 2012 1:27 p.m.

    That is the most ridiculous resoning i have ever heard. If a person would have never paid for the game, then that person should never play the game. Yes people lose out if people play a game they don't pay for. Everyone from developers, to publishers, to their employees, to any person involved in distribution. People might hate that they make so much money, but they also invest a lot of money. We were all children with little money and a large amount of games on the market. Back in the days before the internets it was even harder to decided which games were good. Renting games really helped with that, or you just played what you bought like it or hate it. Now with demos, and reviews, trailers, gameplay videos on youtube, it is easier to research your purchases. Just because someone has little money does not mean they should still be able to have access to games movies music that everyone else pays for. If that is the case there is really no incentive for anyone to do anything, if they can get everything for nothing.
  • cart00n - January 31, 2012 12:26 p.m.

    Uh, the reason GM and Ford don't complain about the used car market is because ppl still have to buy parts for said vehicles. This is simply the video game equivalent...
  • Ludicrum - January 30, 2012 8:01 p.m.

    So, let me get this straight. When Dragon Age gives new purchasers free day one DLC it's just fine, but when Kingdoms of Amalur does the same thing, all the sudden it's "OMFG, how DARE they!?"
  • TheDCSniper - January 30, 2012 7:31 p.m.

    I realize developers need to make money, but I'm not a shareholder so that's not my problem. GM doesn't whine about used car sales cutting into their sales
  • DaveGoose - January 30, 2012 7:27 p.m.

    Boy Schilling really threw us a Curve there eh guys?....guys??
  • StrongPillow - January 30, 2012 7:07 p.m.

    Honestly the people that get hurt the most by piracy are game developers. Its expensive and one bad selling game can cripple them. I want more unique games. i am SICK to death of the repeat crap that is out there right now. Call of duty every year because they KNOW it sells while good intentioned indie developers are to afraid try something new because if it does not make enough money they are out of business and game piracy is killing it. Then we get every entitled moron complaining when they put restrictions on a game to keep them from being pirated more so the companies listen and get robbed of there hard work. Entertainment costs money, regardless if you can not afford to buy games all the time. SAVE UP! Not all of us can go on a vacation every year but I have heard little about bitchy kids complaining that they need to reduce airline prices or the internets will get mad. Seriously you all are only hurting yourself. Games are going to get even more expensive to produce and less companies are going to go the new IP route because of fear that you will burry them because your too cheap to afford a $60 game for countless hours of entertainment. It sickens me to see the growing entitlement of people yet they give little in return. If you do not like how they do business don't do business. If you do not like the game then move on. They have every right to do what ever it takes to protect there IP without going all legal on everyone which also does not work. Getting game companies to freely give you games and then pirate the shit out of them is such a big F you I just could not imagine why people even make games anymore. If you want all freemium time based games, and Call of Duty 49 then force them to do nothing, steal there work and enjoy the future of having to buy everything in your next console/PC game. I am excited for this game and will definitely be buying it and that is how the world works. You put money aside for things you enjoy, why are games so different?
  • RipgutReaper - January 30, 2012 8:56 p.m.

    I agree completely.
  • IHateMakingUserIDs - January 31, 2012 9:44 a.m.

    I also Agree with this statement. Also, if $60 is too much, in a couple months everything goes down in price.
  • DryvBy - February 4, 2012 1:20 p.m.

    No.. no they don't. How is it that major companies are "suffering" from piracy yet these indie companies know their stuff is pirated and still make a huge profit? It's because the games are priced fairly. And two, they don't load up DRM (that doesn't work) on their games.
  • ThisIsMyFuckingThirdAccount - January 30, 2012 6:48 p.m.

    Well, guess I'm not getting Kingdoms while in Afghanistan.
  • Hydr0ponicK - January 30, 2012 6:08 p.m.

    Online pass needed for a single player only game to unlock single player content on a day 1 purchase= huh????
  • MattOfSteel - January 30, 2012 6:03 p.m.

    My main problem with this is it makes the concept of renting games very damaged. I can't afford to just buy all the games I want to play, and I don't see a problem with the renting model as there are different levels of pay and rules that go into a company purchasing something as a rental media. This meant that while I got to play Arkham City day one ... I couldn't play as Catwoman without paying an extra $10 which is close to what I pay a month to rent these games. Besides ... what is going to happen ten years down the line with all these online pass games? Even if someone was to get their hands on a new copy they will probably not be able to enjoy the full game because the code most likely won't work after a couple years.
  • Travia220 - January 30, 2012 5:51 p.m.

    Publishers need to stop beating around the bush and finally just drop the bomb on the used game market. Enforce CDkey Checks or start restricting REAL content with Online Passes. This little baiting tactic isn't going to change much.

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