Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fleecing a dead horse

It's been about two weeks since I last played a good game (other than Marvel and Street Fighter, or course). Dead Space 2 received almost universal critical praise and a slightly less than savage beating from Zero Punctuation, and even though I lean towards Yahtzee's ebullient cynicism more often than not I have to saw he entirely missed the point. Dead Space 2 is supposed to be schlocky, over the top, in your face gory with a marginal story holding things together and monsters jumping out of broom closets that were empty scant moments before. It's a goddamn horror sequel! How many times have you seen a horror movie sequel that was decidedly more reserved and thoughtful than the first one? Never! More people die in worse ways, and Dead Space 2 takes this idea and runs with it as far as it can, right up to what I am pretty was toddler trapped inside of a washing machine. That freaked me out just a little.

But I don't want to talk about all of the Dead Space 2's good things right now; I am not going to talk about the game at all, but something that I noticed when I first started to play. Right after starting for the first time I was asked for a license code that was printed on the back page of the manual. This code enabled access to the multiplayer content, which I could give two shits about, but the fine print was a terrible harbinger of things to come. This code did indeed let you into the 'free' multiplayer modes, but the code was only good for one system, could only be used by one person, and was non-transferable. Bought the game used, borrowed it from a friend, or rented it like I did? Two day trail, then cough up 800 MS points to be allowed online. In other words, if you didn't but the game first hand, fuck you.

Sony has been talking about something like this for years, but being Sony it was taken to the extreme of the game not working at all if removed from its home console. From the business side I suppose I understand. Very little money is made from the rental market, and none at all from the used side of things, so this is a way for EA to squeeze a few dollars out of the secondary market. At this point it is a non issue; I am not playing Dead Space 2 for the scintillating multiplayer, I am playing it to dismember monsters with the severed limbs of their heinous comrades. But you have to ask: how long until the rental market becomes more of a target? Big publishers bluster about being injured by there being used games but they will never do anything serious about it because people trade old games in to buy new games. Kill the trade in market and new games sales will actually decrease.

But rentals? They see no benefit beyond the initial sale (that I know of), and this one copy of Dead Space 2 will make many rounds before it no longer works.

In summary, charging for multiplayer because I am not the original purchaser is lame, but I will take what I can get because there are things much worse that they could be doing.

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