Future EA Sports Games To Require "Online Pass" For "Full" Online Features


Posted May 10, 2010 - By pklepek

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Future EA Sports Games To Require

Electronic Arts has been one of the most aggressive companies in developing solutions to the perceived used game dilemma. Publishers don't see a direct revenue stream from used games, so EA is one of many publishers coming up with incentives for consumers to purchase a new copy of their games. With Mass Effect 2, it was the Cerberus Network. With EA Sports, it's "Online Pass."

"Online Pass" is required for all online features. You don't have a choice. If you don't have an "Online Pass" code, it will cost you $10 to generate an "Online Pass." That's EA's carrot to used game fans.

What's in the "Online Pass"? According to EA: "you’ll have access to multiplayer online play, group features like online dynasty and leagues, user created content, and bonus downloadable content."

This new initiative will begin with the release of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 next month and continue forward. The code needed to access Online Pass is included on the back of every game's manual. "Online Pass" is only required for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 releases. The announcement does not mention Wii or PC being involved in "Online Pass" and I'm currently seeking clarification there.

EA themselves make it clear this move is connected to the used game market.

"In order to continue to enhance the online experiences that are attracting nearly five million connected game sessions a day," explained senior VP of worldwide development Andrew Wilson in a post at EASports.com, "we think it’s fair to get paid for the services we provide and to reserve these online services for people who pay EA to access them. In return, we’ll continue to invest in creating great games and offer industry-leading online services to extend the game experience to everyone."

Like Cerberus Network, however, the hook is not just online connectivity; it's access to content that won't be available without hooking into "Online Pass." You can happily play Mass Effect 2 without Cerberus Network, even purchase premium downloadable content, and the same philosophy is being applied to games connected to "Online Pass." Your game isn't unplayable, but it is missing features, and to tempt used gamers even more, there will be a seven-day pass made available free of charge.

"When we see how many people are playing all of our games online," said Wilson, "consumers are telling us that competition is endemic to sports in a way that most people don’t get just by playing a game alone on their couch. As a result, we’ve made a significant investment to offer the most immersive online experience available. We want to reserve EA Sports online services for people who pay EA to access them."

For Xbox 360 players, this doesn't negate the requirement for an Xbox Live Gold membership.

If you're a used game buyer, will this influence your purchases going forward?

Have something to share? Sitting on a news tip? E-mail me. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Future EA Sports Games To Require "Online Pass" For "Full" Online Features


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