The Online Pass for Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is a business decision to maintain server costs, according to one Naughty Dog developer.
In an interview with TheSixthAxis, Justin Richmond, game director for Uncharted 3, explained exactly why Nathan Drake’s latest adventure needs an Online Pass. Without it, players are locked out of the game’s online cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes. Players who buy the game used will have to pay $9.99 to download the code on the PlayStation Network Store so they can go online. The Online Pass will be included in all new copies of Uncharted 3.
The game’s online multiplayer isn’t a “throw away death-match mode,” according to Richmond. He said:
I think we’re offering something that’s completely different from anything else that’s in the industry; our gameplay is really different and really deep and it takes a long time to master.
He believes the Online Pass is worth the price to play the online multiplayer. Richmond boasted that the game’s online modes give players “thousands of hours of content.” He explained the co-op mode missions feature an alternative story that are all linked together if they are played in the correct order.
Richmond claimed server costs are the main reason that Uncharted 3 uses an Online Pass. Used game purchases don’t contribute to the studio’s costs for maintaining the online structure. Even though Uncharted 3 will cost $59.99 at release and is likely to sell millions of copies in its lifetime, apparently that’s not enough to cover the additional costs from used buyers needed to support the servers. He said:
It’s all that stuff, and so in general, we’re giving out a huge amount of content, and part of the reason for the online pass is that when that stuff goes online, it isn’t free. We have to pay for servers and all this different stuff to maintain it, and so at some point, you know, games have to make money. It is a business, and we just wanna be able to continue to provide that kind of content. If Sony ever comes to us and says “You’re not making enough money on this, you need to cut it” or whatever, that’s not something that we want. We want to be able to maintain the level of quality of the product that we’re giving out.
He also claimed that Uncharted 3 would have to be two separate releases for the online and offline components if it didn’t have the Online Pass.
Uncharted is arguably the PS3’s most popular exclusive franchise. To date, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves combined have sold more than 8 million copies worldwide, according to Sony Computer Entertainment Japan. Uncharted 2 has sold close to 5 million units since launch. Among Thieves also had online multiplayer modes but didn’t use any sort of online pass.
The game’s online multiplayer beta that took place this summer had more than 1.5 million players and was the biggest beta ever on the PS3, according to Naughty Dog.
Naughty Dog was co-founded in 1986 by Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin. It has developed exclusively for Sony home consoles since 1996 with Crash Bandicoot on the original PlayStation, creating four games for that system. The team is also responsible for the Jak and Daxter franchise on the PlayStation 2 that spawned four releases. The developer became a subsidiary of Sony Computer Entertainment America in 2001.
Uncharted 3 is scheduled to release Nov. 1.
Photo by Sony Computer Entertainment America