news\ Jan 30, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Curt Schilling on the Kingdoms of Amalur online pass controversy


So the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning online pass controversy continues.  The new action-fantasy RPG from 38 Studios will have an ‘online pass’ similar to how the Cerberus Network functioned in Mass Effect 2.  This pass offers release day downloadable content to people who buy the game new. 

The KoA:R online pass will include exclusive content however.  The day one pack includes the House of Valor faction quest and the seven quests that go alone with it.  Since I’ve already mentioned Mass Effect, this DLC will also include N7 Battle Armor for Shepard in ME3 - released this March.    

This all sounds wonderful, so where does the controversy comes from?  While this content will be free for people who buy the game new, the online pass will have to be purchased for people who buy the game used or who borrow it from a friend.  While the ‘online pass’ system is nothing new, the Amalur fan base is not too keen on this concept. 

The purpose of the online pass, in a nut shell, is to make more money.  The gaming developers and publishers don’t make any profit from the used games market.  If I buy a game, beat it, and then let my roommates play it - the companies’ only make money from my initial sale.  Since the used games market is blowing up, the people who physically design and make the games want a cut.  This is their way of doing so.  While I understand the 'why', game companies are the only ones who use this kind of online pass process.  You don’t give Toyota extra money for buying a used Camry or a record company extra money for letting your friend listen to a CD in a car.

Despite the unique nature of the gaming industry, Curt Schilling the co-developer for 38 Studios, stands strongly in favor for the online pass.  This is quite the long quote, but I feel reading the entire segment gives you an idea of where Curt stands on this issue.  The quote is taken from the official forums for KoA:R.

If you don't buy new games you buy them used, and in that case you will have to pay for the Day 1 free DLC content the new copy buyers got for free.

It's clear the intent right? To promote early adopters and MUCH MORE IMPORTANT TO ME, REWARD fans and gamers who commit to us with their time and money when it benefits the company.

Every single person on the planet could wait and not buy Reckoning, the game would hit the bargain bin at some point and you could get it cheaper. 38 Studios would likely go away.

That's just how business works. We MUST make a profit to become what we want to become. THE ONLY way we do that is to make games you CANNOT WAIT TO BUY! If we do that, and you do that, we want to reward you with some cool free stuff as a thank you.

So many ALL CAPS words.  In the most simplistic way, he is right.  If no one buys the game at release and folk just buy it used or from the bargain bins, yes – 38 studios would cease to exist.  However, while I recognize worst case scenario talk and the hypothetical nature of that comment, there is a lot of hype and good reactions to Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning already from reviewers and from the demo.  This game will most likely not flop in sales and won’t end in the bargain bin anytime soon. 

While rewarding players for being onboard from the get go is not foreign or looked down upon by any means, having late comers pay extra to enjoy your games is a bit on the weak side.  Profit is of course important; a company can’t make good games without it.  At the same time though, to have a loyal fan base one needs happy fans. 

In the end this is all preaching to the choir anyways since the hardcore and loyal Amalur fans are the ones who most likely already preordered the game.  The people on the fence are the ones who are getting upset and this sort of attitude only makes them less interested.  The quote above is just a fragment of Schilling’s complete statement.  If this interests you I encourage you clock the link and read the rest of it. 

About The Author
Andrew Clouther Human, historian, teacher, writer, reviewer, gamer, League of Pralay, Persona fanboy, and GameZone paragon - no super powers as of yet. Message me on the Twitters: @AndrewC_GZ
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