THQ talks premium online multiplayer, tackling pre-owned impact

Speaking to investors following its recent financial report, THQ CEO Brian Farrell has admitted that a combination of robust downloadable content and premium online play” will be its main weapons against the ‘threat’ of pre-owned games.

He believes that the combination will increase our digital revenue, engage players with our games for a longer period of time and reduce the impact of used games”, according to CVG.

THQ is the first publisher to openly discuss its intention to further monetise the online element of its console titles, though Activision has been tipped to be preparing such a model for its next Call of Duty title.

And despite the scepticism Pachter’s report was greeted with by many MCV readers, MCV has been lead to believe that Activision IS preparing to announce a premium multiplayer component for Call of Duty: Black Ops, and that the announcement could be made by next month.

Pachter reckons that Activision isn’t alone in this intention. Indeed, he claims that fellow releases Medal of Honor and Halo reach could follow suit.

To date the closest thing we have to this model in the real world is EA’s Online Pass. Though consumers who buy new copies of FIFA 11 and Tiger Woods 11 are able to play online for free using the in-box DLC code, those buying pre-owned versions of the game must buy access from EA.

And it’s a model that other publishers have been quick to praise.

However, additional fees on top of the purchase price for a new title would be taking this a step further. It’s unlikely that consumers would react positively to such a move, though the reaction will no doubt be mitigated by the fact that core multiplayer functionality will likely remain free – for the time being.

There’s also the question of how such a model would impact on the perceived value of Xbox Live, which unlike PSN and Nintendo Connect requires a 39.99 subscription to access online multiplayer. Additional costs on top of this charge will not be popular.

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