Destructoid’s Jim Sterling has managed to create a bit of a PR disaster for Electronic Arts and 38 Studios’ upcoming action RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Upon receiving his review copy of the game, he noticed an included voucher that granted him access to the “House of Valor faction quests”, which added seven different quests to the main game.
This raised the question: why is a single player game having an entire set of faction quests hidden behind an online pass? If Kingdoms of Amalur had an online multiplayer component then perhaps it would make sense to bundle an Online Pass, but single player content now as well?
This has caused a bit of a stir online, with the game’s own forums accumulating a 49 page thread in a matter of hours; the thread is entitled “Did you push back at EA at all over this? Quest content gated by online pass.”
The online vitriol has reached a head now, and so 38 Studios head Curt Schilling has posted in the same Amalur forum thread (and on NeoGAF) to explain the reasoning behind the online pass. According to Shilling, the “House of Valor” faction quests that are locked behind the online pass were always intended to be day one DLC for the game. He claims that 38 Studios was behind the decision to give that DLC to paying customers as a thank you for buying their game new.
“…this next part is likely to piss people off, but it’s a truth and it’s how I feel. You can argue the merits and effectiveness of it, but right now it’s how it’s done and as someone that’s as invested as I am in this company, I stand by what has happened.
DAY 1 DLC, to be extremely and VIVIDLY clear, is FREE, 100% totally FREE, to anyone that buys a new copy of Reckoning, ANYONE.
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.”
This same tactic was used by Rocksteady and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for Batman: Arkham City. The Catwoman missions were also gated behind an online activation code and were only available free of charge in new copies of the game. Don’t be surprised if this becomes a more regular method of fighting back at used game sales. Well, until the new Xbox arrives that is.