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Ubisoft Introducing Its Own Online Pass System
Ubisoft Introducing Its Own Online Pass System
July 15, 2011 | By Mike Rose

[UPDATE: Ubisoft has confirmed the Passport's existence today, saying the feature will "provide players with access to bonus content, exclusive offers, and online multiplayer play" for "many of Ubisoft’s popular core games," including Driver: San Francisco.

Passport codes will cost $9.99 for those who don't purchase new copies of supported games.]

Ubisoft is looking to set up its own version of the recently revealed PSN Pass, according to media reports.

Uplay Passport will be introduced alongside the launch of Driver: San Francisco, according to news site Gamerzines, and will require gamers to either have access to a new copy of the game, or buy a Passport code online, to access the online features.

If a consumer purchases a pre-owned copy of Driver and the provided code has already been used, the user will need to buy a new Passport code to play online.

The system is similar to PSN Pass, Sony's upcoming system that was revealed earlier this month. Sony will include a PSN Pass code needed to activate "full online access" in new copies of some first-party titles, starting with September's release of Resistance 3.

A price point for Uplay Passport codes has not yet been announced. When contacted by Gamasutra, a Ubisoft spokesperson refused to comment on the matter, stating, "As we haven't announced anything, I'm afraid the official line is that 'We don't comment on rumor or speculation.'"

Ubisoft commented last year that it was very interested in EA's '$10 solution' to combating second-hand game sales.

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Hakim Boukellif
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I don't get the point of this. If someone buys a game new and later sells it to someone else, then the total amount of people that can play the game hasn't changed. This means that the amount of people that may use bandwidth by playing online hasn't increased either. In other words, the contribution to the server upkeep costs that was made in the initial purchase should still be valid.

Brian Pace
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Its not about server upkeep its about greed. The devs don't get a piece of the pie from used copies so this is their way of recouping some loses. This program doesn't help the consumer in any way.

Jamie Mann
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... and even then it fails: as the trade-in value of the game is reduced, the original owner has less money with which to buy other games. And potential new owners are likely to be put off by the cost and inconvenience of having to buy access to the game's content *after* they've already bought the physical media.

These exercises from EA and Ubisoft are based on the decision to class second-user activity as having zero value (or at least a low value). But this is fundamentally wrong: people are prepared to pay more money for something which can be resold - and a significant percentage of the money from the sale is likely to go on another item from the same market, whether it's games, cars, houses, DVDs or washing machines.

All told, what EA, Sony and Ubisoft are really doing is hastening the demise of the physical-media market: as more of these "limited resale value" games appear, the overall amount of money in the economy will be reduced. And I suspect they're all going to be in for a shock when it comes to only selling games online: with no resale value, the number of people willing to pay $60 for a new title is likely to drop significantly...

Tiago Raposo
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And that explains part of the huge success of indie games.

Alex Leighton
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Agreed, it's part of the plan to try and shift to digital only distribution.

Publishers seem to be living in some alternate universe where everybody has lightning fast internet connections with no bandwidth caps and loathe retail stores and want everything digitally.

The fact is, many people still buy from brick and mortar stores, and that's where they want things to stay. Core gamers might embrace digital distribution, but the average Joe or Jane still goes to the store to buy a gift for their kids.

By attacking the bottom line of stores like Gamestop, there will be fewer games stocked, fewer stores open, and fewer new sales. For companies like Ubisoft, who cater hugely to casual gamers, it doesn't make sense.

Matthew Mouras
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@Alex Leighton - does market research really bear that out? I'm asking because I don't know. I thought I had read numerous reports from developers and publishers saying that direct downloads were solving a lot of their marketing/distribution problems. I suppose it depends on the segment you are targeting, but direct downloads have been a boon for some.

Maurício Gomes
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downlaods are good when you do not have resources to put stuff for sale on the store.

Also make it easier, since there are nothing to manufacture.

But if you DO have resources to go to store, it DOES sells more.

Leonardo Nanfara
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Sony, Ubisoft and EA are a bunch of goofs for implementing this bs. If a person buys a game they have the right to resell it and none of these game corporations should profit from that...a-holes.

Luis Guimaraes
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"If a person buys a game they have the right to resell it"

Start reading the End User License Agreement (EULA) for the games you "buy".

Sting Newman
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EULA's have always been bullshit since the vast majority of the public don't even know what a EULA is. EULA's were the underhanded way the software industry tries to extort the rights of consumers.

Luis Guimaraes
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That's true. But I'm not advocating or defending anything, just saying, that's what EULA says, and you agree with it. There's another way a company cannot allow you a license to their software, it's not making it or not allowing it at all.

I look for better solutions as much as everybody else. It just helps to be informed about every detail.

Matthew Mouras
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This issue has interesting parallels in book publishing. I recently went back to school and was shocked at the cost of textbooks now as opposed to 15 years ago. The secondary market has been hurting major book publishers for years as well. Their solution? Hugely inflate the cost of new books so that they can collect as much revenue as possible on the front end, and then release a new edition every year like clockwork. Sound familiar Madden/CoD fans?

As a consumer, I suppose I prefer EA and Ubisoft's solution, but it's still a poor one. Jaime Mann has it right above: This will hasten the rise of digital media. Could a digital distribution platform like Steam work on consoles? A system that rewards purchasers instead of punishing them? I'd like to think so. I know I enjoy spending money with Steam since the services they offer are convenient and offer real value to me. Have I ever felt that way when I pick up the latest EA title at a brick and mortar? Nope.

Ujn Hunter
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All this means to me... is that I wait until the game hits the bargain bin before I even consider buying it.

Mark Harris
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I take it none of you have ever planned the online support life-cycle for any software products?

Alan Rimkeit
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Oh look, even more games I will never play on-line. What next? Codes for playing used CD's? Are they going to stop selling books used? Why allow anything to be sold used at all?

R Hawley
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It's important to recycle. So glad these companies are doing their part to encourage it.

Really I don't see this working out fiscally given the cost of setting it up and administration seems at odds with the percentage of those who a) Bother to use multi-player modes b) Would go the extra step of purchasing such a passport, given that they are in the second-use mindset anyway.

It might work to incentivise (I hate that word, I really do) gamers to drop a few extra dollars if they think they are missing out on cool content. Seasoned gamers will be wary of such practices.

Luis Guimaraes
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That's exactly how I see it. Not a plan to monetize on second-hand, but to devaluate it as much as possible, putting new as the undoubtly best option.

james sadler
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Elements of this I can understand and agree with. Should I have to pay an additional $10 or so just to pop a game in and play it? No. Especially if I just paid some stupid amount for a "used" game. I don't usually buy used games from the big retail stores anyway because they price them ridiculously given what they pay for them. If a new game comes out and it sells for $60 they tend to put the used version at $55. Well for only a $5 difference I always buy a new copy. And now with having to spend an additional $10 when I get home if I did buy that used copy I will have actually spent more. And this is after the retail chain paid all of $15-20 for the game when they bought it from the player. So we're talking roughly 50-60% mark-ups. Wow. It is amazing they still sell them, or is that why I seem to always find a few hundred games that have sat in the used section for five or so years. Buy cheap and sell cheap and guess what..... people buy them. I remember about a year or so ago I went to GameStop to buy Modern Warfare 2. My buddy was coming over and we wanted something we could play against each other with. Black Ops was just a few months away and MW2 had been out for awhile so I figured it wouldn't cost that much. Guess what, it was still $55 with the new copy at $60. They had probably 10 used copies sitting on their shelf. This sounds like a brilliant business idea.

I understand that the developers/publishers don't see any of the used sale money, but why should they when they aren't handling any of the costs associated with buying and selling that used game. Maybe they should be talking to the retail chains about that. Give them some incentive to lower their prices so that people actually buy them and it becomes worth it to buy the "pass" code. There are still a lot of people that will buy the new copy of the game, which will probably be the exact number of people that do it now. All this will do is stretch the profit stream over a longer time period as people might not buy the game (those that will only buy the used game) until the price drops to a reasonable point.

gren ideer
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James, if a used game requires an online pass, there is no way Gamestop will sell it for $55. Instead they will sell it for $45. If they don't, then Gamestop is the one screwing you, because they are the one selling you something for more than it is worth.

Used game buyers will still get used games cheaper. The laws of economics say so.

gren ideer
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It is comical how much people overreact to this news. This move is not attempting to hinder the used market at all- it is attempting to make money off the used market. Does that mean consumers are getting hosed? No, because Gamestop already makes money off the used market. What this is doing is taking money from Gamestop. Why is it greedy for publishers to make money off the used market but not greedy for Gamestop to make money off the used market? This reactionary response is overblown.

2nd point, to Hakim saying, "used sales do not increase server load." You are wrong. When you buy an online game it is not expected that you will play it for an infinite amount of time. When server budgets are planned they do not expect each copy of the game to be played until the end of existence. Instead, an average life is projected and enough money is budgeted for that. If I buy an online game, play it avidly for 6 months and then stop, then the servers had to support 6 months of my play time. If I resell the game to someone else who plays for 6 more months, then the server needed to pay for TWICE as much. It has nothing to do with me not playing anymore because I WOULDN'T HAVE PLAYED ANYMORE ANYWAY. There is nothing wrong with people paying for their bandwidth a bit.

Also, this actually gives consumers MORE options, because used game buyers who don't want online access will end up spending less money for their games.

Jorge Ramos
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Until the online systems are shut down arbitrarily (looking at you, EA) or the games become infested to the point of looking like a server-based version of 4chan (thank you, Activision).

It's one of the reasons I'm in the camp of "don't bother to play online" if I don't have to. Why pay to babysit someone else's problem(s)?

Robert Robinson
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Well....scratch Ubisoft from my list of game purchases. all my gamer friends are always broke....and they want to charge to play....that's why I have a PS3....FREE ONLINE PLAY!!!!!!!

Cody Scott
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Im kinda confused at why the majority of comments are showing a lack of knowledge for the reason of these passes. ever notice game costs have been going up by leaps and bounds in the past 15 years? ever notice how many more store selling used games now than there was 15 years ago?

Let me address the developers greed issue. The developer doesn't get the first cut. Whatever company makes the system its on does (exclusion computer games), the second cut goes to the publisher. the third and smallest cut goes to the developer and thats normally after the publisher recoups its investment in the game.


2.Used games do not give any money to the publisher or developer. Those funds go directly to the stores that sold it to you. You may say, "but they got money from the first guy who bought it," and here is the answer to that: The people who invested money and time into the game doesn't get any support from the guy who buys it 2nd or 3rd, the publishers would prefer that they got the money off of their product instead of gamestop (and based off how many games are bought new from gamestop, gamestop has been getting paid for that game twice and the developer isnt getting anything.

3. the EULA says you bought a license to play the game and in reality do not actually own it. Therefore technically they dont want used games on the market, and you agreed to that by playing the game instead of returning it once you opened it. (if you dont like it get over it, EULAS will always be there).

And here comes the thats impossible to enforce reply to #3.

Here is that answer: you see those passes. thats how its being enforced. you may have just bypassed giving the makers of that game money, but you will need the pass for online play.

If you really got a good deal on a used game it wasnt $9 cheaper than brand new. it was probably $15 or $20 so that $9 you have to pay doesnt make the game cost more than or =to if it had been new so really there is no need for all this Corporate greed BS.

Do i like the fact that used games prices probably jumped $9

no i dont.

do i understand why: yes

If you are a game development student and you think this pass stuff sucks just wait until you get a perpetual student license for a bunch of autodesk software that costs about $350 + the need for photoshop and it costing you $200, and then finding out when you want to make something for profit it will cost you about $3500 for just 3ds max/ maya, and $700 for photoshop.

The moral of this story. If you cant make something you wan by yourself... Be prepared to pay the asking amount of whoever is making it.

wes bogdan
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Well i'm wondering why people waste time with codes when dev's could simply have it auto-install when the gamer first puts the game in their system which would keep everyone from wasting time with barriers to hurdle for online. It's still online pass and still screws used copys of games but eliminates the pain and becomes seamless.

Once upon a time we were valued as loyal customers but are increasingly treated with distrust / disdain simply put up with rather than valued. That must change. Happy,valued customers buy more stuff.

jayvee inamac
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if the price of the code is right, this would not be a bad idea at all.

Jon Boon
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Will my new games be $10 cheaper if I don't want the online part of the game to begin with? Can I "sell" my $10 activation code to someone else if I have no use for it? If you make a crappy game, can I get my money back? If you refuse to deal with bugs/cheats/glitches/errors, can I get a refund? Will developers start owning up to their mistakes in a game instead of lying with marketing and shooting for day one sales?

There are many reasons why used game sales are good. At the very least it allows consumers a "saftey net" to have them try games they otherwise wouldn't. How long before an extra $10 is needed to see the "true" ending? Or $10 to allow local multiplayer? $10 per chapter of a game? Where will it end?

How about making an affordable, good game that a person doesn't want to trade in to Gamestop to begin with?