Wanna Play Online? Pay Up

Bad News For Renters And Used Buyers

July 15, 2010
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The new business model for games often includes downloadable content, but many are experimenting with also having players pay for things like unlocking equipment, like in Bad Company 2 where you can now buy gear that you’d normally unlock by leveling up. There are also some move to have player pay for access to online content. We saw that with Mass Effect 2, with Bad Company 2, and now it’s come to NCAA 11 (come to think of it, all of those games are put out by EA…so I guess EA is doing most of the experimenting with new online purchasing models).

This is just a heads up for those of you who may be renting NCAA 11 through something like GameFly or will buy the game used; you need a code to play online, and if you don’t have it, you need to pay to play online. I put in my GameFly copy of NCAA 11 and was told to enter the code on the back of my manual. Of course, I don’t have a manual, and therefore I don’t have a code, and therefore I can’t play online. I can start a trial period to play online, but once that’s up, I’ll have to purchase the ability to play college football online or to use the online dynasty mode.

My first reaction was bitterness and frustration. I don’t think it’s fair that just because I’ve chosen to rent the game rather than buy it that I shouldn’t have the same online access as those who do buy it. I mean, sure I’m just renting the game, but online dynasty is awesome, and I want to play it. Just because I plan to move on to Madden in about a month shouldn’t mean I have less access, right? After I worked through my initial frustrations, I tried to think about things more objectively After all, I do get a trial period to play online, so I’m not completely locked out. I suppose there’s a certain amount of sense in…no, no there’s not. I can understand asking player to pay for things like a pipeline state for recruiting or other perks along those lines, but denying access to one of the key modes in a game (yes there’s the trial period, but it’s the principle of the thing), not so much.

Finding other sources of revenue in an age where games are sometimes prohibitively expensive to make is fine; I get that. I also understand making new map packs or new missions can’t be the only way to make money with DLC. Locking out key features for renters or people who buy used feels like a misstep in that business model to me. But there you go, if you plan on renting or buying NCAA 11 used, just be aware that in order to play online you’ll either have to just be satisfied with the limited trial time, or you’ll have to pay to play. What say you about this situation? Smart move? Dumb move? Are you okay with this type of online business model

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