Publishers have been using online passes to lock multiplayer modes behind a paywall for a while now. You know the drill: if you don't buy the game new and use the special voucher inside the box, then you have to kick out $10 or so to buy access to the rest of the game that you purchased as a used copy. Want to play Mortal Kombat or Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit against other people with a used copy? $10, please. Now online passes are taking the next step in customer-unfriendly practices as Batman: Arkham City for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 includes an online pass that locks away part of the single-player game. Game Informer has the details on how playing as Catwoman in a used copy of the game will cost you extra money.
Every new copy of the game will include the pass, but buying used means you'll have to pay publisher Warner Bros. 800 Microsoft Points or $9.99. "Catwoman is a unique character with her own story, moves, and weapons. Unlock Catwoman by redeeming the 1st purchaser included in the game case or by visiting Xbox Live Marketplace," reads Arkham City's title screen. Warner Bros. insists, however, the Catwoman section "is not required to complete the game," Eurogamer reports.
We've all kind of learned to live with online passes, but locking single-player material behind an online pass paywall is a terrible practice. What's to stop tomorrow's online passes from guarding, say, the end of the game in God of War or the bonus World 9 in the next New Super Mario Bros? Worst yet, Batman is so highly anticipated that no matter how much most of us are against the scheme, we're going to shut up and take it anyway because we really, really want to play the game. At least, that's how it is for me. It's easy to ignore online pass-enabled games that I have a passing interest in such as Mortal Kombat, but Batman is my most anticipated PS3 game of the season. I'm buying it new and will get the Catwoman voucher code in the box, but I don't approve of it. While I like to vote with my wallet, in this instance I'm more compelled to vote for Batman than against online passes. There should be an option on the voucher redemption screen to indicate that I'm redeeming the online pass under protest.