Sections

Online pass is “necessary for games,” insists Mortal Kombat creator

Tuesday, 19th April 2011 15:26 GMT By Stace Harman

NetherRealm Studios head and Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon has said that use of the online pass system is right for all games, including his gory fight franchise.

Speaking to Eurogamer about the inclusion of the online pass system in Mortal Kombat – the first fighting game to receive such treatment – Boon reasoned:

“When we sell a game, we need to recuperate the cost of development. These games cost many many millions of dollars to produce. If somebody is re-selling our game and cutting us out of the sharing of the profits of the game, to pay for our games we need to do something to protect our investment.”

The system is implemented by a one-time redeemable code that comes with all new versions of the titles that support online pass systems. Its most popular function is to grant access to the online multiplayer mode, and it has been included in recent titles like Dead Space 2 and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.

It offers some revenue protection to developers and publishers because if the game is sold via the pre-owned market the new owner must purchase another code in order to access the online portion of the game. Codes typically cost $10.

All versions of Mortal Kombat come with two days free online play. Boon has dismissed concerns that the online pass system could restrict Mortal Kombat’s online community.

“The people who only rent games or people who only buy used games probably go through a lot more games in a shorter period of time. We feel like in order for us to continue to make games, we need to get enough back to pay for it. That’s the motivation there.”

The latest instalment of the Mortal Kombat franchise launches today for 360 and PS3 in the US, and on Thursday April 21 in Europe.

Latest

27 Comments

  1. AHA-Lambda

    “When we sell a game, we need to recuperate the cost of development. These games cost many many millions of dollars to produce.”

    Yes that is your problem right there and treating your customers like cirminals is NOT the answer -__-

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Phoenixblight

    Sorry its not treating their consumers like criminals its treating those that are buying the game second hand like criminal which are not their intended consumer. I as the consumer that bought the game originally, get all of it as it was intended those buying it second hand have to figure out that they now have to pay 10$ or whatever for the online pass which they usually still come out paying less.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. TheBlackHole

    “If somebody is re-selling our game and cutting us out of the sharing of the profits of the game, to pay for our games we need to do something to protect our investment.”

    So when a car owner sells their car on to another driver, should they be sharing the profits with the original manufacturer so they can cover the cost? No. Nor is that the case when I resell a CD or DVD on eBay/CEX/HMV etc. The simple fact is that you’re not entitled to a share of sell-on profits, so you’re taking them at the front end instead, punishing gamers, rather than the retailers (who, let’s be clear, are the one’s selling second hand titles to your consumers in the first place!).

    For those who suggest that degradeable items (such as cars) don’t apply, I’d argue that the value of a game degrades over time due to age and quality in a similar (although not identical, granted) way.

    Retail is your problem, not the gamer. If your game is good enough, people will buy it.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. DrDamn

    I can see the point with online passes where there is actually a direct cost the the publisher with second hand sales. However I don’t agree on a general point of second hand sales somehow suddenly cutting them out of the profits.

    The fact that second hand sales occur has been factored in to the market and costs for some time now. They profit from second hand sales because there is an increase in full price sales. Some people are happy to pay £40 for a full priced title in the knowledge that they can sell it on or trade it for £20 further down the line. I would think a significant amount of the money the consumer gets from second hand sales also goes back into the market too – as trade in prices are higher. So that’s more money they get indirectly from second hand sale.

    I do agree that the retailer takes too much from these sort of transactions though. So don’t begrudge publishers looking for alternatives. Game prices haven’t really increased much for 15 odd years. However how about crazy ideas like encouraging digital sales by making the prices less than the retail price rather than higher.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Phoenixblight

    @3

    Cars do not apply because its not software based how do you protect 1000′s of 1000′s of man hours and resources that goes into software?

    Cars depreciate over time with parts becoming discontinued, lack of maintaining, etc. Not the same with Software its the same as long as you have a device that can play it. I still play Chrono trigger at least twice a year.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Ireland Michael

    A video game is not a car. The industries work off very different pricing structures.

    People seem to fail to understand just how hard it is for most companies in this industry to make money. Even worse, people keep expecting better and better graphics *all the time*, completely oblivious to the fact that with all this extra graphic weight comes bigger expenses.

    To expand on your car metaphor… you buy a car new, you expect everything to work right off the get go. You buy a car second hand, and you can’t expect everything to be the same as when you got the car. The core mechanics might work (and even then that’s not guaranteed), but it’s not going to be the exact same car the original owner bought on day one.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. TheBlackHole

    F*ck*ng hell. Fine, drop the car metaphor (even though a caveated the damn thing, TWICE!). Although…

    “A video game is not a car. The industries work off very different pricing structures.”

    No they don’t. Lots of upfront cost into R&D and development > Requires X amount of sales to turn a profit. It’s almost identical. Although I will concede some other points made by above posters about degradation etc.

    My core point still stands, though. Tell me one other piece of SOFTWARE where the original manufacturer is entitled to profits from the second, third, fourth or twentieth sell-on. The fact that the market is tough, or that sales are low, is largely irrelevant.

    Now, if they had turned around and said – “This extra cost is to ensure we can maintain the online experience, as it costs to run servers and provide ongoing support”, I’d hold my hands up and say ‘fair enough’. I agree completely with that. But they don’t – notice that they focus on the cost of DEVELOPMENT – meaning that this is to recoup on their original investment, not their ongoing costs.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. DrDamn

    @7
    Ongoing costs, maintenance of servers for online play is often mentioned by EA as justification for their online passes.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. TheBlackHole

    @8

    Conveniently enough, we’re talking about Warner, not EA :)

    It’s also worth noting that EA have an excuse – they’re the only publisher that run their own servers. Microsoft host everybody else’s games on that platform, for example.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. DrDamn

    @9
    Fair point, but in the full article he also says … “There are untold million of dollars of product development and research that’s gone into the game and the infrastructure of the online system.”

    So it is part of their consideration. He is also a bit of a muppet as he says … “For somebody who went out and bought it for $20 or something, for considerably less, we feel like they haven’t paid full price for the game.”. No shit really?

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Hunam

    At the end of the day though, all this does is harm consumers more than anyone else, so it’s still shit.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. YoungZer0

    I don’t quite understand, does this Online Pass only oblige if want to play the game online? Because i don’t care about Online playing.

    #12 4 years ago
  13. Ireland Michael

    @12 Yes, that’s all.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. YoungZer0

    @13: Just to be sure, online updates not included?

    #14 4 years ago
  15. Ireland Michael

    If by “updates” you mean patches, then no, obviously not.

    #15 4 years ago
  16. YoungZer0

    @15: Yeah, i meant patches. That’s good to know, thanks Mike.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. Ge0force

    That guy’s hallucinating. Gaming has become one of the biggest industries in the world WITHOUT an online pass. Besides, almost all online games on console are peer-to-peer and only require stats-servers. Online pass is really NOT necessary for games.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. YoungZer0

    @17: This is not about necessity, but about money and money only.

    #18 4 years ago
  19. dyscord

    “The people who only rent games or people who only buy used games probably go through a lot more games in a shorter period of time. We feel like in order for us to continue to make games, we need to get enough back to pay for it. That’s the motivation there.”

    Seriously? What about all the money you make on people who actually buy the game new. Now what if all those people were to just sell their copies to their friends? Isn’t that the same basic thing that Gamestop does? It sounds to me like most game developers just want to get paid twice.

    And how about when the ORIGINAL Mortal Kombat came out all those years ago. I guess they lost sooooooo much money on people renting or buying used copies.

    This is greed. Plain and simple. They’re mad that the used game market is profitable and they’re not making any money off of it, even though they’ve already made money off the original copies sold.

    #19 4 years ago
  20. Ireland Michael

    “And how about when the ORIGINAL Mortal Kombat came out all those years ago. I guess they lost sooooooo much money on people renting or buying used copies.”

    Do you have any comprehension in the different in cost between games “all those years ago”, and now?

    Here’s a hint. One has costs with only five our six digits in them. The other has costs with 8 or often 9 digits in them.

    #20 4 years ago
  21. dyscord

    “Do you have any comprehension in the different in cost between games “all those years ago”, and now?

    Here’s a hint. One has costs with only five our six digits in them. The other has costs with 8 or often 9 digits in them.”

    And games are more expensive now. I find it very hard to believe that with all the sales they usually make, people buying used will somehow make them poor.

    Besides, the same thing applies now as it did back then. Apparently they were losing money on used games. It’s not like the market sprung up a few years back or anything.

    #21 4 years ago
  22. YodaJokerBacon

    Good topic – good discussion. Healthy. Respectful. Mindfull. Nice.

    How is this any different from renting movies?

    #22 4 years ago
  23. ultramega

    @22
    I have to agree. This is actually the first time in as long as I can remember that I actually enjoyed reading through the comment section and hearing the opinions of everyone. It normally devolves to a name calling match.

    #23 4 years ago
  24. jthomaz

    that’s why people stick to the nintendo wii. it’s so good to play mario kart or mh3 without any fees.

    i played the first version of mortal kombat on arcade and genesis, than some other versions.

    this version looks nice, after affirmations like that one, i’ll pass.
    we are not cows to be milked

    #24 4 years ago
  25. viltgance

    LMFAO…i was considering buying or at the very least renting this game cause i grew up with the MK franchise and enjoyed them. I was shocked to hear about an online fee, that is the most ridicules thing i’ve ever heard especially for a fighting game. Always knew street fighter and capcom was dominate, but this just seals the deal.

    Ed boon you should be ashamed of yourself and I hope nobody buys this game, i know me and my friends wont be

    #25 4 years ago
  26. IssacClarke

    You all seem to be missing a key factor here. New games have always been up to date with the economy whether they were $10 or $60. New games are now $60. While being an expensive price, keep in mind we have a shit economy right now. Ed Boon is not punishing gamers, treating us like criminals and DEFINITELY has NOTHING to be ASHAMED of… All Sony did was ensure that Netherrealm gets the $60 they EARNED, think about it really… When a company makes a game, your $60 combined with the rest of everyone else’s replaces the money they spent into creating this game FOR US, with a labor fee. When you buy a used game that is recent you save about $10 or $20. Now with this extra $10 fee you are paying them their $60 either way, or you’re not playing online, it’s that simple. If you made something for someone and they didn’t want it after opening it up, would YOU pay for THEM to re-wrap it and give it to SOMEONE ELSE!? NO! You’d say “I made that specifically for YOU and if YOU want to give to SOMEONE ELSE YOU’RE going to re-wrap it YOURSELF”, that’s exactly what they’re telling us. Despite the disadvantage it may give me sometimes, I think companies have ALL the rights to do this

    #26 4 years ago
  27. chemo

    this is greed. NetherRealm is taking away my freedom the freedom of the consumer who payed the price in full. your spitting in my face and showing how much respect you have for the consumer. whatever this companys trys to do to stop the used game business its not going to work. you want more sales then drop the price. dont say that video games sells are down this industry still made $18.6 billion

    #27 4 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.