Relatively speaking, anyway.
In my personal, never-ending endeavor to consume as much information as possible, I’ve taken to the habit of reading nigh every piece of paperwork that accompanies games that I purchase. Unsurprisingly, with the recent advent of online passes, it’s been discovered that these passes can actually expire.
This actually comes as no surprise to me personally, for the reason above, but some of you readers may not be in the know. I know that Jim Sterling at Destructoid feels the same as I do, but this whole “online passes have an expiration date” thing is just too much.
Codes going through the PlayStation Network seem to have the shortest lifespan. It wasn’t too long ago that I received a code for review for Peggle Nights on PSN that ended up being invalid for some reason. There was no way the code had existed for that long, with the Peggle Nights expansion only existing for a handful of weeks prior on the PS3, but lo and behold, I had a broken code for a game that I was meant to review.
As it turns out, codes activated through Xbox LIVE have a lifespan as well, but from my experience and reading, they generally last much longer, many months after a game’s release to at least a couple of years. Even if a code says it has an expiration date for Xbox LIVE, it is likely active after this date and is more a guideline than a “redeem by” date. For example, I purchased Crysis 2 from GameFly recently, a title that came out earlier this year. The code for the limited edition content was still active and I was able to redeem it easily through Xbox LIVE. These situations are all dependent on the publishers as much as the service you’re going through, however.
Luckily for the companies here, they are easily absolved of fault with some fine print that says “Code must be redeemed by such-and-such date,” so gamers who purchase games on sale well after release date due to lack of funds or whatever are to be punished through no real fault of their own.
I understand where companies are coming from—after all, they are businesses and businesses need to make money. Microtransactions, DLC, online passes—these are all money-generating ideas that offset costs from things like the used game industry that other companies (like GameStop) find extremely profitable.
But overall, it just seems ridiculous to slap gamers on the wrist for not buying a game at or around launch. Don’t get me wrong, devs and publishers, we want to buy your games. Some of us just don’t have the money sometimes and would like to pay just a bit less during a sale, even forgoing the option of buying a game secondhand to buy a new copy from a retailer for a lower price later on.
Perhaps this is all an awry sense of entitlement. Realistically, we only pay for the privilege to play your games when buying a disc or downloading a title from a service such as Steam. We never own your intellectual property at any given time and only pay for the right to use it. As developers and publishers, you’re welcome to revoke that right at any given time.
Sensibly, we are the ones who are (eventually) forking over the money to play your game. Why does waiting make us the prospective bad guys in the situation? Why are we the ones getting raps on the knuckles?