Back in August, I wrote an editorial in response to Rage's use of an online pass, which locked out hidden, single-player areas for players who bought the game used. While I wasn't completely opposed to the idea, I wrote about how this practice could lead to even more strict implementations for online passes, perhaps even forcing us to pay extra for extra single-player portions of our games.
Well, it looks like this is happening sooner that expected. Batman: Arkham City's online pass locks out Catwoman as a playable character for used purchasers, meaning they must pay extra if they wish to play as her. Not only is this locking her out of the challenge maps, but her sections of the single-player campaign as well. Normally, I wouldn't be too against this idea, if Catwoman hadn't already been advertised as a huge part of the single-player campaign for over a year now.
From the very beginning of Arkham City's public reveal, it has been made apparent that Catwoman is one of the central characters of Arkham City's single-player mode. More than a simple side-character, Catwoman's presence is essential to the plot of the game. Now, I have yet to play the Arkham City, but I'm assuming that fairly important details of the plot will be missing for players who have not redeemed (or can not redeem) the code that unlocks Catwoman. If she is such a central character to the story, as Rocksteady has made us assume, then players who do not have access to her may miss very large chunks of important plot information.
Another valid point already brought up by annoyed gamers is that even players who buy the game new won't be able to access the Catwoman content if they do not have an online connection. While the vast majority of console players already have their consoles online, there are still a large percentage of those who don't. I myself have one of the older Xbox 360's, which has no built in wi-fi, and is currently too far away from a modem to get it connected. These players, who show their loyalty and dedication by buying the game on day one, will not get rewarded.
I appreciate that Rocksteady and Warner Bros. are trying to incentivise new game purchases, but this is not the way to do it. Gamers aren't being rewarded, theyr'e being punished. Already considering both Robin and Nightwing will only be available as DLC characters (for $6.99, or 560 Microsoft points a piece), a lot of people won't be getting the full Arkham City experience. Pre-ordering and buying new are no longer incentives, they're demands.
This is only one character away from locking out entire main single-player portions for used players. Can you imagine if they had locked out areas to play as Batman if you bought Arkham City used? For another example, what if the infamous "No Russian" level from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had been locked out for used purchasers? This is the direction we are heading folks, and it's looking like there isn't much we can do to stop it. We have to try. There are good ways to reward players for buying games new (Rage being a recent example), but locking out already promised content is not the way. We can't stand for this, and we have to let publishers know that.