Online Passes No Affect Market

Published on January 18th, 2012

Pre-owned revenues haven’t been affected by Online Pass initiatives introduced by publishers over the last few years, UK retailer GAME has said.

Talking with Spong, the firm’s Communications Director Simon Soffe said that the initiative “is an interesting manoeuvre by publishers”, but one that “has the risk of confusing (consumers)”.

When it comes down to the business side of Online Passes, though, and driving sales of new stock rather than pre-owned – as has been speculated – Soffe doesn’t think the initiative has succeeded.

“It doesn’t seem to have affected our pre-owned revenues at all,” he continued “so if that was the objective then it doesn’t look like it’s succeeded.”

The introduction of Online Passes was met by controversy from consumers and the gaming press when they were first introduced in June 2010.

The schemes initially locked second-hand buyers out of a game’s online multiplayer component, but have evolved in more recent releases to lock out additional single-player content.

EA Sports was the first publisher to introduce Online Passes with its release of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, with Sony, Ubisoft, Codemasters, Bethesda, Warner Bros and others introducing their own similar schemes shortly after.

Perhaps most controversial of all was Warner Bros. ‘Catwoman’ pass, which locked gamers out of Catwoman’s side-story in Batman: Arkham City.

Publishers have often claimed that the initiative is to protect revenues hit by ongoing server costs and subsidise lost revenues at retail.

But Soffe claims that second-hand sales are “a benefit to everyone in the industry”.

“We see that customers like pre-owned, it helps drive the sale of new games.

“If you look at economies in general, you’ll see that a good second-hand market is a sign of a very healthy new market.”

Where do you stand on Online Passes? Have your purchasing habits been affected since their introduction? Let us know by leaving a comment.


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