EA discontinues Online Pass program over player disapproval

By on May 16, 2013, 10:15 AM
ea, online pass, second-hand games

EA has announced it will discontinue its controversial Online Pass in response to customer feedback. The company first introduced the program back in 2010 as a measure to deter used games sales -- or, at the very least, get something out of them. The idea was to include a one-time use code with new copies of a game, and also sell it separately at $10 for second-hand buyers to enable online play or get access to exclusive content.

But while initially the practice was framed as ‘only fair’ as the company felt cheated out on revenue that could otherwise be used to offer to provide “a full menu of online content and services,” soon other publishers jumped in and the system evolved from enabling online play to locking out key features even in single player mode. For instance, Examiner notes Warner’s Batman Arkaham City locked levels and gameplay behind its code system.

Online Pass revenue reportedly generated a modest $10-$15 million for EA in its first year alone. Now, the company has decided that the negative press and customer criticism was not worth the trouble.

"Yes, we're discontinuing Online Pass," EA's senior director of corporate communications John Reseburg said in a statement. "None of our new EA titles will include that feature […] Many players didn’t respond to the format. We’ve listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward.”

Reseburg clarified that they’re still committed to creating (and selling) downloadable content and services that enhance the game experience beyond the day you first start playing.

While EA pioneered the online pass scheme among publishers, now they are also the first to abolish it. It’ll be interesting to see whether companies like Ubisoft, Sony, Warner Brothers follow suit.




User Comments: 12

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axiomatic13 axiomatic13 said:

"players didn't respond to the format"

ROFL... it wasn't a format. It was an obvious jab at game re-sellers at the cost of the customer... TWICE.

Guest said:

The worst company in america say that? its a great coincidence? of course not bcuz the PS4 will support used games,so what for?whats their real reason? There should be something better than this to ditch that amount of profit. maybe a little bit their reputation

MilwaukeeMike said:

Didn't we just have a story about EA losing a ton of money or something? Looks like they lose money some quarters and make money others... I.e. they're struggling.

Perhaps instead of trying to restrict their games like this they could undercut the used market by selling their games at a nice discount 6 or 8 months (or more) after they're released. Most people would prefer to buy something new than used anyway... I'll bet if they didn't try to sell year old games for $60 they might have some success with the people buying used games.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

Didn't we just have a story about EA losing a ton of money or something? Looks like they lose money some quarters and make money others... I.e. they're struggling.

Perhaps instead of trying to restrict their games like this they could undercut the used market by selling their games at a nice discount 6 or 8 months (or more) after they're released. Most people would prefer to buy something new than used anyway... I'll bet if they didn't try to sell year old games for $60 they might have some success with the people buying used games.

The problem with this strategy is that EA's issue isn't their pricing, it's their library size and quality control. They spend tons of cash on developing titles and a lot of them wind up reaching store shelves half-baked (Dante's Inferno) or downright raw (Dragon Age II?). This hurts sales far more than a price premium. If they want to get back to making money they need to offload franchises that are costing them money and focus on refining a handful of core products. Until that happens money will keep going out the door, regardless of their pricing strategy.

MonsterZero MonsterZero said:

I hate to say it but EA makes great games, are they a bad company? YES. Are they struggling? No. Will they continue to make revenue from new games? Yes.

it's basically the company you love to hate.

however I do disagree with locking content in the games upon reselling the game.

1 person liked this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I hate to say it but EA makes great games, are they a bad company? YES. Are they struggling? No. Will they continue to make revenue from new games? Yes.

it's basically the company you love to hate.

however I do disagree with locking content in the games upon reselling the game.

People who ask, then answer their own questions always puzzles me. Why do they do that? Is it cool? I dunno. Does it make them sound intelligent? Hardly. Is it habit? Maybe.

1 person liked this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

I hate to say it but EA makes great games, are they a bad company? YES. Are they struggling? No. Will they continue to make revenue from new games? Yes.

I take it you haven't looked at their financials over the past few years? If their recent performance isn't struggle, I'd hate to find out what is. Also, revenue is not equal to profits. EA makes plenty of revenue but little or even negative income in recent years.

MilwaukeeMike said:

^ What he said.

JC713 JC713 said:

I think EAs attempt to prevent used games from being sold has failed. Everyone knew it from the start.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

They have to do a lot more cleaning up of practices and product delivery before I'll be back. BF3 was the last product I will buy from EA for a VERY long time. The delivery of it was abysmal. The online portal, server downtime, Origin, fact there were 2 independent communications clients (sign of fractured development), just made the experience a clusterf%#k.

Pity because the actual game was the best FPS I've played.

JC713 JC713 said:

I will still buy BF4 since I have been playing the series forever. But EA really pisses me off.

Misagt said:

I think one of EA's many mistakes is to not release their games on steam anymore. Frankly I haven't bought a single game from them in almost 2 years since they stopped releasing on steam. I don't have an issue personally with the online pass thing as I buy everything on steam and it's already locked to my account. I think the online pass isn't a bad idea for their sports titles if they only charged $30 for a sports title as if you wanted more then a causal single player experience you could get it for 10 more a year. Or do a release every 2nd year with a $20 roster update/new year of online. Just my thoughts anyway.

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