In our latest OXM community feature, forum veteran Grummy shares his thoughts on why games industry schemes like the Online Pass will run awry without proper supervision. Join the debate.
You are a bastard. Didn't you know? You have horrible curly bright ginger hair and are hated. In the eyes of the entertainment industry, the gaming community are the proverbial red-headed stepchild. Never taken seriously despite being one of the fastest growing international industries of the last 20 years, the games industry is beginning to find itself at odds with its economic foundation, us the players.
The last few years have seen radical changes in the way games are delivered to consumers. It has become a very polarizing subject, whether you're talking simple DLC, post release patching or the current hot topic, online passes. There are pros and cons to each system, too many to go into now - suffice to say that each one has been discussed heartily on these very pages many times.
Despite my personal standpoint of defending the games industry when I find their decisions make sense from their perspective, and cause no real harm to the consumer, I am finding it more and more difficult to support certain decisions. Two recent examples spring to mind.
Firstly, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, a game I was thoroughly looking forward to as a lifelong fan of Games Workshop properties. As I'm sure we've all read, the co-op mode was held back from the retail release, ostensibly for further polish, to be released "around 30 days later" as DLC which you get for free by using the online pass - you'll have to buy it separately if you bought the game second-hand.
Secondly, Batman: Arkham City and the Catwoman content. It's the same principle - if you have the pass you get the DLC free, but without it you are locked out of single player content which, while not essential, does flesh out the story somewhat and offers nice variety.
I support the pass in theory - after all, developers and publishers receive no further income from second hand sales, while incurring ongoing costs so second-hand buyers can play online. What troubles me is that there is nothing stopping a company from withholding as much content as they like, and they are under no pressure to be honest with us, the consumer. Common decency is not a factor here. There is only one factor: the bottom line. Regardless of what one Miss Jessie J tells us, for the games industry, it IS all about the money.
Now, I have no problem with the industry getting its fair share, and I have no problem with companies being paid, fairly, for services they provide, hence why I have no issue with the online pass on principle. It's the dishonesty and lack of control that bothers me. Locking out multiplayer content, which is a constant drain on resources - that I can understand and accept with good grace, but locking out single player content? Not a chance, it is a step too far, but there's nothing to stop them doing it.
This is why we need an industry-wide regulation. It's coming to a point now where we, the consumer, are being taken for mugs. Were Space Marine to be released polished and with all content on disc available from launch, then the only sticking point would be the online pass, which will always be a polarising subject. But this isn't the case.