Obsidian’s Feargus Urquhart: Online Passes Are “Gimmicks”
Obsidian’s Feargus Urquhart had some strong words for game developers who seek to curb sales of used games by requiring the purchase of online passes to access content (ala the Cerberus Network in Mass Effect 2). Speaking to Gamespot, the guy leading the makers of Fallout: New Vegas very frankly called that tactic a gimmick, arguing that there are better ways to encourage people purchase – and keep – new games.
[O]ne of the recent issues is not putting the full game in the package and requiring downloadable content to move on. Also, including DLC in the package that will have to be repurchased for secondhand buyers. I think you have to go in and forget those gimmicks, and say, “How do I make them want to keep the game on the shelf?” I think each genre has a way to do it. Battlefield and Call of Duty have it in multiplayer with maps, rankings, leveling up, and unlocks. There are different things, but the idea is making people feel, “I want to keep on playing it.”
He specifically singled out games like Knights of the Old Republic, which offer Jedi or Sith plot paths, as a way to accomplish this. Needless to say, the whole interview is fascinating and well-worth a full read.
For what it’s worth, I think he’s right… to a point. Everything he says does a lot to keep players interested in keeping the game’s they’ve purchased. But it does nothing to address the reasons players buy or sell used games. After all, eventually they’re going to run out of DLC, and maybe the gamer wants to make room on their shelf for something else. Something they’d like to pay a little less for. Unless the selling of used games is made illegal – not bloody likely – there’s nothing developers can do to prevent gamers from trading in the games they’re no longer into.
Which is a long winded way of saying I think that online passes are here to stay. But what do you all think? Are they a small price to pay for a haircut off the cost of a new game, or are they an onerous nickle-and-diming by developers?