Against Creator’s Wishes, Twisted Metal Gets Online-Pass Restriction

twistedmetal

Gamers that planned on buying the forthcoming Twisted Metal PS3 revival used can anticipate being snapped onto a short leash that ends right outside the PlayStation Network.

Against series creator David Jaffe’s apparent wishes, Kotaku reports that the vehicular mayhem series’ current-generation resurrection will be subjected to many a player’s most reviled dirty word: “online pass.” It’s a veritable curse word among jaded online multiplayer aficionados, so having it even mentioned in the same sentence as such a beloved Sony icon as the Twisted Metal line was bound to be akin to calling some fan-boy’s sainted grandma a gutterslut.

Jaffe claimed this past December that Twisted Metal is one of many games that’s made to become a multiplayer party favorite. That being said, Jaffe argued, keeping the online play barriers minimal couldn’t be much more essential to any franchise’s success than it would be to a game like this one.

Now, before the requisite pissing and moaning that follows the words “online pass” almost everywhere begins, take a couple things into good, long consideration.

First of all, have you examined the growing list developers and publishers that now rest in peace? Think of the game industry, just this once, not like a big shackled beast that exists to pander to you and you alone, and instead like a source of sustenance on which your livelihood depends. Think of it that way just this once, because for many, many people, that’s not hypothetical. It’s reality.

Those people? They’re engaged in a constant chess match with used-game dealers like Gamestop. When the game sells the first time, that’s the only time the publishers and developers get paid. If that same game gets sold used, it costs those same publishers and developers the revenue from the sale of a brand new copy.

That being said, publishers must survive by creating either incentive to buy a brand-new copy, or disincentive to purchase a used copy. Hence, the online pass. Want to enjoy the privileges and perks of playing online with friends? Do right by us, who slaved to make this for your ungrateful ass, and just fork over for a new copy. Remember, if the people making the game can’t feed their families from the fruits of their labors, what incentive do they have to continue? Simply the good feeling of knowing they’re entertaining somebody?

That’s a great intrinsic motivator, but I’ve had Chinese buffet food that’s more filling.

The alternative to buying new is to buy a used game, then purchase an online pass – in this case, it would be done via PSN for about $10. Guess what? Even if you buy used and then buy the online pass, even if it’s not as cheap as you’d like, it’s a discount off buying it new. Want it even cheaper still? Trade in a game.

This article will get some hateful comments. Truth be told, I honestly don’t care. I’ve read the other arguments.

“But I can’t afford to buy new games!”

And I’m truly sorry to hear that. Most of the time, I can’t afford new games either. Sometimes, I can’t even afford used games. But when one comes up that I want, I sock away money beforehand so that I have it when the game comes out.

It’s called “budgeting.” It’s called “being responsible.”

“But this impacts the rental market, too!”

Again, I refer to the point of this whole rant: it’s about creating incentives to buy the game. It’s nothing personal. It’s a matter of business. The video game industry is a business first. It’s how people feed their families. It’s how they keep clothes on their backs. And currently, they have to do it in an economy in which many households’ disposable incomes have dried up and where video games are an expendable luxury.

“But you’re really supporting the publishers more than the developers!”

Hey, ass-hat: what, exactly, is the point of developing a game if no one, including the developer, has the means to publish and distribute it? The publishers are needed, too.

This, however, may be my favorite. And by “favorite,” I mean proof that despicable people have been placed on Earth so that when the rest of us screw up, we realize we could’ve turned out a whole lot worse. This was an actual comment on the Kotaku report that Twisted Metal would be getting an online pass. It is reprinted verbatim.

VegetarianZombie (@jupiter.is.sentient) – oh, you’re damn right I’m naming names – wrote “No. I’m not buying new to support anyone. When did playing games become a case for charity? If a developer can’t survive a used market – you know, something that exists for every other industry out there – then they shouldn’t be in business. Especially in the console business.”

Oh, you sanctimonious son of a —

You’re not going to buy new to support the people who make the things you enjoy? You Sam’s Club family-size bag of douche. This is the same kind of person that will be the first to bitch, piss and moan if developer after developer continues going bankrupt, because sales trail off after the initial release because copies get filtered onto the used market, when suddenly there are fewer studios making games because it’s just that much harder to be profitable.

We’d all love to inhabit a crap-sunshine-and-fart-cotton-candy world where we can pay our way with the love we have for what we do. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately, it can’t be said that all members of the gamer community act like adults all the time with a concept of understanding the concept of what constitutes a mutually beneficial relationship. There comes a point in the gaming business where we, the consumers, must meet the people who make the things we love halfway. Nothing in this world comes free. It would indeed have made more sense for Twisted Metal, and multiplayer-emphasizing games like it, to be free of online passes. But just remember the arithmetic: Typical Used-Game Price+$10 Online Pass=STILL Cheaper Than Buying New.

If nothing else, remember this much: nobody’s forcing anyone to make the online pass available for purchase outside buying the new game. That, in itself, is somewhat of a concession.

Note: [All opinions expressed herein are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of GamerXChange]

Sean Comer
Sean's a gamer for all seasons and genres, but he's a one-brand-one-man Sony loyalist - despite previous trysts with Nintendo. He came to GamerXChange in April 2011 fresh off an award-winning, two-year stint as a Kansas City newspaper reporter. He's since made his mark as a blogger, correspondent, and GamerXChange's first writer to review games in both video and written formats starting with his takes on Batman: Arkham City and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception in late 2011. He fears no genre's deep waters. He considers the God Of War trilogy, the first two PlayStation 2 Kingdom Hearts installments, Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2 and Metal Gear Solid the highest among his favorite games. When just looking to kill time, he's also an avid MMA and wrestling fan who has a love affair with THQ's UFC Undisputed series and who has been a loyalist of the Smackdown!/Smackdown! vs. Raw franchise dating back to Smackdown! Here Comes The Pain. His future machinations as a GamerXChange mainstay include helping to develop the site's first regular podcast beginning around E3 2012, covering future conventions in the western U.S. as a live correspondent, and expanding the site's coverage into other geek-media areas such as anime, comics, manga, movies and others.
  • theDECAY

    You sir, are a douche. Calling us “ass-hats” because we are against something that is clearing stripping rights away from gamers, doesn’t mean we don’t understand what is happening. It does affect the rental market, and it does in thus limit the gamers. The video game industry has always been a business, but never before this has it felt so greedy.

    • Seanccomer

      No, you clearly missed who I was really calling an “ass-hat.” Whether you like how much the publishers make or not, they’re a necessary part of the business model. We don’t get to have it both ways, supporting one end of the production process but not the other. Developers need the publishers to help the game reach an audience and thus make a profit. Publishers need the developers, so they can have a product to sell. This seems like a fairly simple concept, but apparently NOT one everybody has fully absorbed, judging from some comments on the Kotaku piece. As far as it feeling “greedy,” I guess I’m among the minority of gamers who really have no problem with a firm seeking to maximize profit. I get why both David Jaffe and gamers dislike online passes for games like this, but I also understand how that evolution in the business model came about. 

  • http://www.east-of-nowhere.com/ Brendon Nutt

    While I don’t agree completely with the way things are being handled to insure more new game sales, I also respect Sean for pointing out another side of the argument.

    The whole, “I will never buy new, because if a company goes bankrupt blah blah” argument is absolutely absurd. Game companies are going broke as the standards for what makes a successful game rises and the cost of making games rises.

    This is an industry that has taken a serious upswing in recent years, and it is an industry that has not found its footing within its growth. There are arguments to be made for and against tactics like this, DLC, and every other money making gaming scheme developers are putting out there.

    The market is changing, and I don’t know if it is for the better, but it is changing.

    • Seanccomer

      Thanks, Brendon. Glad you commented, as I’m quite fond of your site. 

      I understand both sides. But since used game marketplaces like Gamestop and online merchants like Amazon and eBay that sell used items aren’t going anywhere, the game industry must do something. Business-wise, it’s a savvy decision. That was how I was looking at things: take off the “passionate gamer” blinders, and look at the situation rationally. You mentioned DLC, and that’s another tactic that’s a fan-friendly boon when handled properly, but elsewhere, bald-faced nickel-and-diming in place of maxing out what can be put into a game before developing something new. 

      Best point of all, though: “The market is changing.” It’s changing, and it can’t be stopped. Thus, the companies either adapt or die. “Dying” means games go back to the near-death days of video games. If their “adapting” means either buying new or purchasing a used game and paying a small one-time fee (is that REALLY so different from the pay-to-play subscription MMO model, which is so broadly accepted?), then I’ll bite the bullet. After all, a $30 used game plus a $10 online pass still shakes out to $20 off, for many titles.

      • http://www.east-of-nowhere.com/ Brendon Nutt

        The business of video games is becoming just that, a business. I agree, without the fanboy blinders, it is a natural progression of the market. At the rate things are going, the business is going to be a vastly different and alien beast 10 years from now.

        The thing is, if people don’t like the changes, they need to stop paying for them. That is how the market and the new implementations are going to be judged, by sales, not complaints on the internet. While I certainly wish used game were 20 dollars cheaper than their newer counterparts, I do see it going that way as more companies implement these passes and exclusives.

        If we are paying 5 dollars less for a used copy, and getting less. We wont buy used copies, eventually if this strategy takes affect, Gamestop, Amazon, etc. are going to have to lower the price of their used games to compete (and still make butt tons of money, honestly, they can afford to drop the prices).

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