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Obsidian: Online Passes Are "Gimmicks"

Jonathan Lester
Fallout: New Vegas, KOTOR II, Obsidian Entertainment, Online Passes, Pre-owned games

Obsidian: Online Passes Are "Gimmicks"

Replayability Stops Gamers Trading In

We live in an age where online passes are fast becoming the norm, when even first party publishers feel they can combat the used market with timewasting codes and extra costs for those who decide to buy games pre-owned. Who will save us? Cue Obsidian Entertainment: the studio behind Fallout: New Vegas, Alpha Protocol and Dungeon Siege III. They believe that the current issue with used games doesn't stem from the fact that they're cheap to buy - it's because most games don't offer enough replayability to be worth keeping after they're completed. It's apparently up to developers to deliver games that can stand up to hours upon hours of play and multiple playthroughs - and to support their wares with thoughtful post-launch DLC that tells a new story rather than "gimmicks" like online passes.

Wow. Now there's a thought. We like this idea immensely.

Speaking to Gamespot, Obsidian Boss Feargus Urquhart slammed online passes and similar initiatives as "gimmicks," and suggests that publishers and developers need to combat used games at source - i.e. making their games engaging enough to be kept by consumers rather than quickly traded in.

I think you have to go in and forget those gimmicks [like Online Passes], and say, 'How do I make them want to keep the game on the shelf? I think each genre has a way to do it. Battlefield and Call of Duty have it in multiplayer with maps, rankings, leveling up, and unlocks. There are different things, but the idea is making people feel, 'I want to keep on playing it.'

In the role-playing genre, Urquhart cites KOTOR 2 as a perfect example of how a game can provide enough meaningful choice and replay value to avoid being traded in.

With a role-playing game, it is the same thing. We come up with things to make players want to keep on playing it.

By having a good and evil track, like Knights of the Old Republic II, I can play as a light or dark Jedi. I may play through as a light Jedi, but I know that I could play through as a dark Jedi. So I think, 'I'm gonna do that some day.' So I put it back on my shelf and I don't take it back to GameStop.

Urquhart naturally also (fairly) plugged Fallout: New Vegas as another fine example; with so many choices that you'll need multiple playthroughs just to scratch the surface.

If I play Fallout: New Vegas for 50 hours, but there are all these other quests, and there's this whole other area I didn't go to, and online there are people talking about all these things that you could have done all these different ways, I'll feel like 'Wow, I could play this game again,' because there is all this stuff I didn't get.

And knowing that, publishers announce DLC plans the day the game comes out. And now, as a player who hasn't experienced everything yet, I know there are these new stories, and I'm going to be able to level up my character and get better stuff, be more of a hero. The game is going to go back on my shelf, not back to GameStop.

Making games good enough to keep instead of making them difficult to buy pre-owned? Yes please. We'd like more of that, thanks.

Add a comment 1 comment
completelyagree  Nov. 5, 2011 at 15:06

Hear, hear! There's a reason that retro stays alive, and it's because older games had much more replayability. Well said, Obsidian Entertainment.


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