Warner Bros., the publishers of Batman: Arkham City have made a controversial decision regarding the content of their game. The company has decided to institute an Online Pass system for Batman’s latest adventure requiring players to be online and enter a special code to access game content. The most controversial part of this decision is the content that is gated by the pass is actually single player missions.
The idea of Online Passes isn’t new. Companies frequently include one time use codes with their games to deter customers from purchasing games used. The codes typically allow access to a games online multiplayer modes and once used cannot be used again. A consumer who purchases the game used will have to pay a $10 fee to obtain a pass to play that content. Warner is taking this all one step further in Batman: Arkham City, requiring a code to access the Catwoman missions contained in the game. All of these missions are single player content and integrate with Batman’s main storyline meaning any player who purchases the game used and doesn’t want to pony up the extra $10 won’t get to see this content.
What’s more troubling is people who do not have their console connected to the internet are being cheated out of single player content in their game. People without internet connected consoles generally expect to have to forgo multiplayer content but it seems ridiculous to gate single player, story based, content behind an Online Pass.
More interesting still is the fact that the Catwoman content is not actually on the game disc. Entering the code contained in the box prompted a 250Mb download which contained the Catwoman content.
Adding to the absurdity of this story are the reports that many users are having problems with their codes. In some game boxes the slip of paper with the code is there but code field is simply blank. In other situations users report the code slip is simply not in the box or that it points to the wrong piece of downloadable content, like a Batman skin, instead of the story missions.
Warner hasn’t commented about the missing codes at this point but Arkham City director Sefton Hill spoke to Wired at the New York City Comic Convention (NYCC) about the decision to put the Online Pass up around single player content. He stood by the decision reiterating that Catwoman is a guest character and her content is only about 10% of the entire game.
This is troubling for me. It seems like a slippery slope to put single player content behind the wall of an Online Pass. That requires people to be connected to the internet to get the full game experience they are paying for which is frustrating for a great deal of console owners who don’t have the option to get online. I know back when I lived in dorms consoles were specifically blocked from gaining network access and this would have infuriated me.
Did you pick up Batman: Arkham City? How do you feel about an Online Pass for single player content? Sound off about this mess in the comments.