Electronic Arts is not the most popular company around at the moment. In fact, they were just voted the worst company in America for the second year in a row. This is largely due to their relentless pursuit of more money via microtransactions and their attempts at trying to control consumers with the Online Pass system—a system that requires you to enter a code in order to play one of their games online, effectively stopping people from buying used games (unless you wanted to pay an extra $10 for a new code) or borrowing them from a friend.
People have been enraged about these things for a while now, and have let EA know it every chance they’ve had, including with the consecutive worst company titles mentioned above. But it appears the company is listening to these complaints and are looking to do some repair work.
It’s been confirmed by EA that they will no longer being using the Online Pass system in future games, which should mean that you’ll be able to use all of one of their games’ features after you buy it, new or used.
In an e-mail to VentureBeat division GamesBeat, EA senior director of corporate communications John Reseburg said this:
“Yes, we’re discontinuing Online Pass. None of our new EA titles will include that feature.
Initially launched as an effort to package a full menu of online content and services, many players didn’t respond to the format. We’ve listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward.”
Speaking to Game Informer, EA’s VP of corporate communications Jeff Brown added:
“There’s not much to say. The online pass came out in 2010. It was a way of packaging together a suite of post-launch content and services for people. There was also an element for people who bought the game second sale. It never really caught on. People didn’t like it. People told us that they didn’t like it and you know, we went through a cycle and we’re about to put out some new games and we just decided not to do that anymore. We’re 100 percent committed to creating on-going content and services so the consumers get more value out of the game – you know games like Battlefield and FIFA where there’s all sorts of new things that get added all the time – but the whole idea of packaging it up with an online pass, clearly it was not popular, so we listened to people and we stopped doing it.”
This is great news as it was becoming more and more restrictive to be a gamer. Instead of being able to buy games you might not want enough to purchase brand new or borrowing them from a friend, we were being forced into entering these codes to play. After EA set the bar, other companies like Activision and Ubisoft began to follow suit. It seemed only a matter of time before codes were required to play all games.
But could this all be some kind of clever ruse?
If this is exactly how it appears to be, then it is great. But this is EA we’re talking about, right? Might there be something coming soon that made it easy for them to end their Online Pass and look good in the eyes of the consumer?
I’m speaking of course of the long-rumored and greatly feared next-generation console feature that would ban all used games. This sounded absurd, and in addition to pissing off millions of gamers who like having the option to buy used games or borrow games they weren’t sure they’d like, it would also put companies like GameFly and GameStop in a world of trouble or out of business entirely. But that’s the idea. GameStop makes loads of money selling used games, and no game publisher wanted to see that continue. Consumers aren’t all that fond of GameStop’s system, either, but not to the point where they want their options forcibly removed.
If there is in fact some sort of used game blocker being added to next-gen consoles, it would make a whole lot of sense for EA to kill off their attempt at ending used games and improve their reputation while sitting back and waiting for the new consoles to do it for them and take all of the backlash.
Whether or not next-gen systems will ban used games or not has not been confirmed, and maybe this will actually end up being a very cool move on EA’s part, but it’s hard to just accept this highly unexpected new direction by the company without question.
So what do you think? Is EA finally starting to fix some of the things that have angered their customers, or do they know more than we know?