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Online Gaming’s High Costs

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The video game industry is becoming a group of money hungry capitalists. Why has this become an issue for me? Recently, I played Battlefield 3. Before I purchase games, I like to rent them from Gamefly to test them out. If I’m going to pay $59.99 for a game, I like to try it first. Battlefield 3’s single player campaign is okay, but it isn’t the best experience in the world and isn’t worth spending the money. However, Battlefield 3‘s achievement, from what I gather in the online community and from DICE and EA Games, is that the online multiplayer is top of the line and a wonder to behold.

I fire up the game on my Xbox 360 and prepare myself for some multiplayer action. Imagine my surprise when I was prompted by the game to enter my online passcode. What? I figured there must be some mistake, so I read the fine print. In order to enjoy the online multiplayer experience of Battlefield 3, you have to have a one-time use online passcode that comes with each new copy of the game. If you don’t have a new copy, you have to pony up 800 Microsoft Points, which is about $10. I see this as a money grab by EA.

The people affected by this are those who either purchased the game used or rented it. Both are huge markets. It means that in addition to paying for the Xbox Live Gold membership to Microsoft to play online, i’d have to pay an additional $10 dollars to play Battlefield 3 online. Seriously? I’m renting the game to know if I’m going to buy it or not and my purchasing decision rests on the idea that I get to try it out online first. I’m sure I’m not the only person. To me, that means that EA is leaving money on the table. What would you rather have: $59.99 from me or $10 dollars? According to their own marketing, they could easily get the $59.99 once I play multiplayer on-line. Too bad, I was looking forward to spending my money on a new game. Guess I’ll wait for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

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About AnthonyLiggins

  • Most people who rent games don’t buy them and the game publishers (much less the actual developers) don’t benefit at all (the sale of one disc amortized over dozens or hundres of renters). When you play online, you are a cost center if you haven’t paid for the game. A better argument from you would be that they should have a free online demo with limited content so you could make your purchase decision. It’s not a money grab. These games cost hundreds of millions to make and piracy/theft is a real problem.

  • I see where you’re coming from and I understand how much the games cost to produce. However, renters and used game buyers weren’t going to buy the game any way so the lack of sales to them shouldn’t be a concern. Also, piracy is a problem but due to the numerous countermeasures they have in place, it can’t be hurting their bottom line as much now as it had in the past.

    I just believe that their concern over sales they weren’t going to get in the first place is causing them to lose sales to people are on the fence about actually spending money on a game. So you’re right, they should have probably do a 30 day trial or 2 week trial for people who didn’t buy the game new and give them the option of paying for the online pass code. I think they are losing more sales from people like me who could easily be convinced to purchase a game if it has a high replay value. But since my only experience is with the terrible and buggy Beta they released, I would never buy the game.

    Almost every person I know, including myself, that has Gamefly, buys games new if they like a game they rent.

  • Shinmigami

    I feel you. This new trend is annoying, we all know that it is broken and it is not the way to go. The really sad part is that people buy these codes and passes and the publishers make money from them. So, unless that stops happening then they will keep on doing it.

    I find that Call of Duty is even worst. They may not have an online pass, but an option 50 purchase in order to get elite features of the game is put into question as well. How soon before they cut out more features and just add it on to elite.

  • I agree with you on that point. I think you’re right. Elite does have a free version which is only there to tease you into paying for Premium. Activision’s stock price fell which could be a response to the failure of Elite to be usable, despite the huge success in sales of COD: MW3. Companies should realize that not everything needs to have a social component beyond multiplayer ingame interactions.