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Manistine avatar 8:14 PM on 10.21.2011  (server time)
Online Passes: Side Effects

It has become clear that online passes in one form or another will continue in the industry until something significant changes. Several of the companies that are pushing so hard for these passes are also some of the most profitable in the industry. I believe at some point something will have to give, whether it is the passes disappearing, changing into another form or something entirely new I do not know. However it turns out, it seems certain it won't happen tomorrow. As such, it is likely they will leave a few marks on the industry before they are gone.

The majority of consumers that care about online passes are also probably aware of the online multiplayer that often feels like it is just there as an excuse to add the pass. This is certainly true in many cases but the idea of adding multiplayer to every game, regardless of it is a good idea, is something that came along before online passes became prevalent. Companies have got the idea that any game needs multiplayer so they'll tack it on and now are using that tactic to try to fight used sales. The result of this business plan may not be at all what they expect.

Games like BioShock prove you don't need multiplayer and show how little it will help a game to add it in when it is not needed. I bought Bioshock used 3 years after it launched and loved it, fun game, interesting story, cool hints at the motivations of the characters. Once I beat it I picked up BioShock 2 new from Amazon. While it wasn't terrible it didn't just was not compelling in the same manner as the first. Once I played through that I tried the multiplayer. I say tried because in several days of trying I got into one game, nobody was playing it. This is far from the only time this has happened and people know that, so they see a tacked on multiplayer and know they aren't going to use it. There is a large community of people who play a lot of online games, however it is nowhere near large enough to support multiplayer for every game. There are games that put a ton of effort into their multiplayer and those will continue to be the games people play online.

The online passes are going to force used game sellers to cheapen their used games and reduce trade in values to compensate. This combined with games that have tacked on multiplayer has a good chance of making the used copies of those games even more attractive. A game with only single player a consumer can at least be assured that the company spent all their effort in that area. Unless a game can really prove in advertising that it has something great to add to the multiplayer scene or people already know it is good it won't seem like an attractive addition to the game. With any luck this will stop this practice of just throwing in multiplayer. The most important part would be that this would show up in a monetary way to companies, which is the most likely way for it to have an effect. Of course, we have no way of knowing for sure how it will all happen, but I truly hope that this is the end result. It will allow games that have no need of multiplayer to focus on what they are best at and it will stop companies from over saturating the multiplayer market.

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