To summarize the nature of this post I’m going to start off with a little football metaphor here:
Madden takes the snap, he drops back in the pocket…looks for his man. HE THROWS DEEP…TOUCHDOWN! But wait! There’s a flag on the field, and the play will come all the way back…
For all you reading this that aren’t football fans I’ll sum it up for you, the game is excellent in a lot of ways, almost a complete success…but then something happened and it just ruined everything for me.
So to set the scene, I got the game a couple days ago, eager to enjoy the full version after several weeks of playing the demo over and over again. So in it comes and after feverishly ripping off the plastic and putting the disc into my PS3, when I am prompted immediately to input my redemption code entitled my ‘online pass’ which enables online game modes such as online franchise and get this…head to head.
So I was going to review this game but as soon as I saw this I thought WTF? apparently, one of the perks of buying a shiny new copy of madden 11…is the ability to play online? Yes, and in fact this was not the first game to do so. As Joystiq reported a few months back, EA sports has instituted the online pass as a branch of the company’s ‘Project Ten Dollars’. Essentially, in a bid to reduce the amount of used game sales, EA seeks to draw in consumers to buy new copies as opposed to used by offering additional downloadable content. While on paper that sounds fine, in practice this essentially means gimping the game upon resale. Online play has already been established as a fundamental element of next generation sports games, to now deem that content as bonus material is an obvious cash grab and only serves to hurt the consumer.
First, let’s examine the logic behind this move. By not having online play in the used copy out of the box the gamer will in theory decide it is better to buy a new copy due to a perceived better value. However, that’s kind of depending on two things, one that the cost of the used copy combined with the cost of buying an online pass is the same or more than the new copy, and two that the player cares enough about this gameplay to want to shell out the extra money. Considering that, is it really such a safe bet that this online pass will really get people buying new copies? or for that matter hanging on to them?
After some thought, I don’t really think so. Here’s why, for starters the price of used games will always reflect a level of savings that’s relative to the original product. Therefore, if new copies go for 69.99, used copies will be priced accordingly to compensate for the need for the online pass meaning used games will most likely be priced at 59.99 or even 54.99. As well, a yearly franchise like Madden or Tiger Woods does not hold lasting appeal for gamers to hang on to, I mean why the hell would you hang on to Madden 11 if you plan on buying Madden 12 the following year? The point here is, if someone doesn’t play their game, they will trade it in regardless of if the value is reduced. Hell, sports games lose their value faster than any other type of game already due to their yearly nature, so I ask you WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO MAKE THAT WORSE EA!?
In the end the only person getting screwed here is the consumer, used copies will still be sold in stores, the only difference will be that they’ll sell for cheaper and customers who bought their shiny new copies will get even less for them when they eventually trade them in. Though it’s fair that EA would want to combat the rampant used game sales which give them absolutely zero profit and instead line the pockets of retailers like GameStop who are the largest distributors of used games in North America.
I’m not sure how exactly publishers should get gamers to hang on to their games, though in fairness who is to say that they have to? Consumers don’t have bottomless pockets, and if the cost of business is having thousands of gamers enjoy your game second-hand well then suck it up you soulless bloodsuckers!
To everyone reading this my question to you is, what do you think game publishers and developers should do to reduce used game sales/cut down on piracy/liberate cash from gamers wallets?