EA Does Away With Online Pass, World Peace Achieved
EA announced yesterday that they were doing away with the unpopular Online Pass system. This system charged those who purchased a game used, a one time fee (usually $10) to access the multiplayer features of a game. Many companies (Ubisoft, Sony, and the company formerly known as THQ) make (or made) use of the Online Passes to try and make some money off the used game industry.
Now, to be honest, I never had any issue with the online pass system. I buy a lot of older games used, but typically, if a game has come out within the past year, I’ll buy it new. When I bought Battlefield 3 used, I had no problem paying $10 to play online, likewise with Saints Row 3 and Dead Space 2. Why don’t I have an issue with the online pass? The money goes back to the developer/publisher instead of the used game store. If a company, even one that’s supposedly evil (like EA), is paying the monthly costs of hosting thousands of servers for their games, why in the hell would they forego some sort of compensation to help pay off those servers. So, if I spend $40 on a used game, then add the pass, I’m paying $50. Only $10 goes back to EA. That $10 isn’t that much and fairly reasonable in my, most unpopular opinion. EA simply found a way to make money off of the back of the used game industry. Besides, its not like they are forcing you to pay the $10 to unlock single player features. Nope, that is what microtransactions are for.
Now I doubt EA really did this out of the kindness of their hearts, or because of “player feedback” as they claim. EA is a large company, and they really don’t care about how you feel about the features they put in a game. Their refusal to add an offline mode to Sim City is a testament to that. EA certainly has some ulterior motive for doing this. In this case, I would dare to say that they are going to focus more on microtransactions. The returns off of the online must not have made as much money as EA had hoped, and was more than likely was becoming a case of it not being worth the poor publicity. Microtransactions, however, will bring an even larger storm of bad publicity (see Dead Space 3) so EA will need to tread carefully in how they move forward should they pursue microtransactions more aggressively
Getting rid of the online pass won’t repair their (somewhat undeserved) label as the worst company in America, but it will gain a small amount of goodwill from gamers. Now, if EA really wants to make people happy, add the offline mode to Sim City and prmise not to have always online DRM in the future.