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.