I'll say this for Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment: when they go all-in on what's wrong with the video game industry this generation, they really go all-in. We already knew that the publisher's upcoming Mortal Kombat for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 featured different preorder incentives spread across several retailers. We also already knew that two downloadable characters will be offered for sale shortly after launch. Now we're hearing according to a letter that allegedly went out to key retailers that the game's online multiplayer mode will be locked down with one of those online passes that has become so popular among publishers like Electronic Arts and THQ lately. New copies of the game will come with a voucher required to unlock the online modes, while those who buy the game used will have to kick in an additional $10 to buy a voucher from the PlayStation Store or Xbox Live Marketplace. Those without a pass can also choose to go for a free one-time two-day trial period. Joystiq has the details.
At present, WBIE evidently intends to do the same for its high-profile releases F.E.A.R. 3 and Batman: Arkham City. Since the latter won't feature multiplayer, though, the token would have to unlock some other (equally attractive) content.
According to an email obtained from our source, which appears intended for retailers, WBIE won't be promoting the pass -- in fact, no reference to it will appear on the game's packaging. Instead, it is apparently providing retailers with details on the pass, including how to purchase a new one if you're buying a used copy of the game.
It's pretty low not to mention the pass requirement on the packaging. Online passes are a charged issue, but at least publishers mention the requirement on the box. Keeping it a secret just encourages used purchases from people who may otherwise walk away, and once the game is in your home, are you really going to go to the trouble of returning it versus kicking in another $10 for the pass? Retailers are being provided with details, sure, but I can't say that I expect most GameStop clerks to explain the issue to clueless customers.
I'd planned on renting Mortal Kombat from GameFly when it releases later next month with the possibility of keeping it if I especially enjoy it, but now I'm even wondering if I should bother. It's missing numerous pieces of content and I refuse to be bullied into forking over extra money outside of a purchase for basic game modes and additional characters at inflated prices. Don't misunderstand me; I like quality DLC that is worth the extra cost. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's "The Da Vinci Disappearance" has been worth every penny of its $10 price so far. Red Dead Redemption's "Undead Nightmare" raises the bar on what paid DLC can be. Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds really cracked my outrage meter with its wide array of overpriced add-ons though ($5 per extra character, $1 per Shadow Mode expansion, $5 per costume pack), and frankly, I'm just getting sick of the whole practice. I compare the whole experience to eating dinner at a fancy restaurant: charge me extra for dessert, sure, but not for the use of a knife and fork.
As for Batman: Arkham City... I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.