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Battlefield 3 Gets Online Pass?

Battlefield 3 Gets Online Pass?

Ruh-oh. The dreaded online pass, the extra cost you have to stump up to play games online if you don’t buy a brand new copy, looks like it could be heading to Battlefield 3.

That definitely seems to be the vibe coming from DICE after Patrick Bach, Executive Producer on the FPS, seemed to be warning Gamerzines to expect something along those lines.

He said players would “probably” need to register a code included in the box to access the game’s multiplayer, “but I don’t think it’s an online pass, I think it’s our own backend. I’m not sure I want to call our system an online pass.”

When pressed on whether DICE would be locking second hand players out of the game’s multiplayer unless they were to buy an online pass separately, he replied, “I think we are” before justifying the move by saying Battlefield games have “always had a code in the box in one way or another”.

“The whole idea is that we’re paying for servers,” continued Bach, “and if you create a new account there is a big process on how that is being handled in the backend. We would rather have you buy a new game than a used game because buying a used game is only a cost to us; we don’t get a single dime from a used game, but we still need to create server space and everything for you.

“We want people to at least pay us something to create this because we’re paying for it. It was actually a loss for us to have new players. Hopefully people understand why. It’s not to punish people. To us it’s compensation.”

Those are all pretty clear indications that it’s a matter of when EA announces Battlefield 3 will use an online pass, not if.

The Fallout
Now. We are generally of the opinion that online passes are bad. We’ve never liked having to pay extra for something if we already have it and online passes are clearly a move to clamp down on second-hand sales, not whatever the PR spokesman tries to dress it up as. We’ve talked about this before, in relation to Resistance 3.

In this case, Bach is not only trying to distance himself from the negative connotations of ‘online pass’ but also says “we don’t get a single dime from a used game, but we still need to create server space and everything for you.” That’s clearly not true – the used game sale comes from a new game sale, so the server space created for the original owner is freed up for the second-hand owner when the game changes hands. Not a valid excuse.

Bad Company 2 had the right idea with its VIP code, which struck the balance between rewarding new owners (free DLC, early DLC access) and giving second-hand owners something to buy if they wanted to stay at the cutting edge of multiplayer.

But cutting them off unless they buy an online pass? A bad, bad move. What’s more, when this is announced, it’ll be a huge victory for Activision in the Battlefield vs Call of Duty war for two reasons:

1) Activision can now claim ‘free multiplayer’. Even though Elite offers a premium level of service which has to be paid for, it’s not crucial to playing multiplayer in the first place. Activision was already claiming ‘free multiplayer’ in some adverts for Call of Duty: Black Ops so they can really go overboard now. But more importantly/worryingly…

2) Activision can charge for Modern Warfare multiplayer. We suspect it’s something they’ve thought about and toyed with for a long, long time but couldn’t quite justify the PR backlash for what little gains they earn with the move. Now, Activision can point at Battlefield and play the ‘they started it’ card, all because they didn’t blink first.

Perhaps the worst thing about this is we won’t get the fair Battlefield 3 vs Modern Warfare 3 fight we’re promised. The competition between the two sides is looking to bring the best out of each other – DICE is pushing to bring a level of quality that matches PC to consoles with Battlefield 3 while Infinity Ward can’t apologise enough for past mistakes as it tries to scrub all the Modern Warfare 2 stains out of its current project. An online pass would definitely tip the scales in Modern Warfare 3’s favour.

EA’s Chief Executive John Riccitiello was incredibly smug during E3 when he announced Battlefield 3’s stats-tracking service was free of charge, an obvious dig at Call of Duty Elite, where the premium subscription set off alarm bells that a pay-for-multiplayer move was going to sink that series.

How quickly things change…

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  • stephen

    buy the game new if u want to play online u cheap skates : – ]

  • Scrum

    Buying a pre-owned game isn’t being a cheapskate. For example, I was looking through my local game shop, and the pre-owned games weren’t even labelled. When I found the preowned sticker INSIDE the box as I walked out, I realised my game was pre-owned and wasn’t bothered, but shops will ask for £35-£40 for pre-owned games like COD and BF3, so an online pass just adds to the expense.

    From another perspective, I share games with my two brothers and we have separate consoles, meaning that two of us will have to pay for online passes in order to play. That’s hardly fair from a consumer’s point of view, really.

  • stephen

    @ scrum, i take it u were not good at maths at school , if u buy the game for £40 and ur 2 brothers pay £10 each for online passes then that a total of £60 so u save £60 pounds in retrospect

  • Do’G

    @Scrum. i agree mate. the ignorance of some people is astonishing really it is. i really want to buy BF3 but if you HAVE to buy it new then DICE/EA can stick it!!

  • GAPP2008

    DOH , what are you lot like ? If you buy a second hand game for somewhere between £15-£30 for instance and then have to £5-£10 to play online for months then why are you moaning , I’ve been playing bf2 since May 2010 or therabouts and am still playing it because it’s blooming brilliant and kicks cod’s lame ass into touch , I bought the vip from new and have never looked back , the second tier owner should put towards keeping the servers online for as long as possible so we all can enjoy the really good games that we keep coming back to time and time again , just look at some of the hours put in on the leaderboards on bf2 to see why bf3 should be astonishing !