If you don't live in North America, you'll need to jump through some hoops to play online.
With the advent of the pre-owned game market, developers have come up with a few tricks to stay profitable. One of the most common is the online pass, which provides the game creators with a few bucks even when someone buys their game used. Square Enix is continuing this strategy with Hitman: Absolution's multiplayer Contracts mode. Customers purchasing the retail version of the game will find a code to unlock this game mode for free, while those who get a pre-owned copy will have to buy it online ... for free.
North American players will find it easy to access Contracts - it's already there, unlocked from the start. Anyone in other regions will be restricted from playing the content without entering a code, which is included with boxed copies of the game. If you buy a used copy in any country, you'll have to download an online pass, which will be available gratis from the console's digital marketplace. In no scenario will players be forced to pay any additional money to access the game mode.
"We'd actually planned to have this mode accessible via a code in the game's box," says an official statement on the Hitman blog, "but we really want to make it available to anybody that plays the game - so we want to take a new approach."
"If you're in North America you'll see the mode automatically appear in the game menu. If you're elsewhere, you can redeem the code inside the box, or you can simply select the BUY CONTRACTS PASS option. From there, head to the store where CONTRACTS will be free to access."
With the game only days from launch, this is likely a last-minute decision. The end result is strangely obtuse: all the obstruction of DRM with none of the benefits to the developer or publisher. Still, it's a generous move from Square Enix, and it's nothing a post-release patch couldn't fix. We'll find out if it's worth the hassle when Hitman: Absolution hits shelves on November 20.
Source: Hitman Blog