Electronic Arts will release SSX next month on February 28, and like most of the publisher's other recent titles, new, factory-sealed copies of the game will come bearing a packed-in Online Pass code that used purchasers of the game will have to buy separately in order to unlock content. The typical formula of barring access to multiplayer content behind these codes is being tweaked, however. In SSX, both new and used copies of the game will have unrestricted access to the online play.
"Play" is the key word there. While you'll be able to shred the slopes online without having to input a code, those without the Online Pass access won't be able to earn credits in the game's Global Events mode for unlocking additional content, EA confirms in a statement (via Game Informer). More precisely: you'll EARN those credits, but won't be able to access them until you've unlocked your Online Pass. It sounds like you can still earn credits in the separate Explore mode, and spend them on unlocking the same content.
Here's the full text of EA's statement:
As you know, all EA Sports games for the Xbox 360 and PS3 have included a game-specific EA Sports Online Pass since June 2010. This is a one-time use registration code with each unit sold new at retail that allows access to online services and features, as well as bonus game content. Once activated, additional passes will be available for $10. Thus, all new copies of SSX will include a code for Online Pass. EA Sports has made a significant investment to offer immersive online services and features. We want to reserve these online services for people who pay EA to access them.
In SSX, players without an Online Pass are able to compete and play in both of SSX's online game modes, Explore and Global Events with no restrictions. In Global Events, the top finishers from each event are awarded with in-game credits. These in-game credits earned during play will not be awarded to the player if they do not have an Online Pass; these credits will be stored so that at any time, if a player redeems an Online Pass code, all the credits that they had previously earned in Global Events will be immediately awarded to them.
Economy balance makes it possible to unlock all available content and allows you to participate in all event drops across both Explore and Global Events, with credits earned solely in Explore.
It's not really clear if content you unlock using credits earned in Explore applies to Global Events as well. I would guess that it's simply more of a grind (no pun intended) to unlock the game's content with credits earned in Explore mode versus credits earned in an Online Pass-enabled Global Events mode.
Source: Game Informer