It was once heralded as a significant step forward by a number of publisher execs, but now EA’s Online Pass is no more.
The Online Pass was introduced in 2010. It saw single-use codes ship with new copies of some EA games. Redeeming this code typically entitled players to online access for their new title and perhaps a handful of other perks.
The kicker was that those buying the same titles pre-owned would be blocked out of said content. To access it they would have to buy a new Online Pass, typically for around £5-£10.
The model was subsequently adopted by a number of other publishers and became pretty much the de facto standard for console titles.
“We’re discontinuing Online Pass,” EA senior director of corporate communications John Reseburg told VentureBeat. “None of our new EA titles will include that feature.
“[It was] 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.”
EA’s VP or corporate communications was more upfront on the issue when talking to Game Informer.
“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,” he stated.
“We're 100 per cent 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."
Of course, EA’s consumer-friendly U-turn could indicate that the upcoming next-generation of consoles will do away with pre-owned altogether, thus eradicating the need for the Online Pass. Or is that too cynical of us?
It almost feels like EA is trying to make up for something…