Kingdoms of Ama-need-an-online-pass, Sort Of.
Editor’s note: I am in no way advocating Online Passes in games. In this article, I praise 38 Studios for rewarding early adopters. I do not think the Day 1 DLC should be considered an Online Pass, a huge buzzword of late. However, having Day 1 DLC means that content was ready, but not packaged with the product. How you feel about that is up to you.
You probably already know about Kingdoms of Amalur’s Online Pass and the backlash unleashed by many in the gaming community. Well, as much as I don’t like Online Passes, Kingdoms of Amalur isn’t actually using one — not really. Ars technica wrote about the implementation of an Online Pass with this game and stated that “Charging used game players for such an ‘Online Pass’ is nothing new in the game industry, of course. But implementing an Online Pass in the single-player Kingdoms of Amalur represents a continuing tumble down a slippery slope for the entire game industry.”
While I love Ars, and frequent the site, I have to respectfully disagree in this particular case (although I do agree with their view of Online Passes in general). Curt Schilling, chairman of 38 Studios (creator’s of Kingdoms of Amalur), explained very clearly that the so-called Online Pass is actually Day 1 DLC. And it just so happens to be free for players who purchase the game new and have a redemption code. That is pretty much the same thing as regular DLC for every game. My only real problem with this approach is that if the DLC is ready for Day 1, shouldn’t it be included in the game?
Some complain that EA and 38 Studios are locking players out of single-player content. This isn’t exactly true. In the official Kingdoms of Amalur forums, the Community Manager under the guise “Muse” established that: “the House of Valor content was not in the finished game/disc at one point, then removed. It isn’t there and we’re locking you out of it. The House of Valor was created as stand-alone content, and was always intended to be the first DLC. Instead of holding onto it and charging for it later, we opted to give it to everyone who purchases the game new, for free, on launch day.”
So, do you need an Online Pass to access all that Kingdoms of Amalur has to offer? No. Do you need a redemption code to play the Day 1 DLC for free? Yes. 38 Studios intends to reward fans who make early purchases (called early adopters) and spend the extra money on a new copy instead of opting for the used variety. This is the right way for developers to garner game sales. Rewarding gamers for good behavior is better than penalizing them for doing something that the publishers don’t want (read: buying used games).