It seems as if every day a new publisher jumps aboard the in-box DLC code bandwagon, and industry analysts have given their full backing to the new payment model.
Games such as Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins lock pre-owned buyers out of accessing additional content online, whereas upcoming releases such as The Sims 3 and EA Sports titles will block online gaming.
The only way to get around this is to pay EA a one-off $10 fee to buy a new code.
Publishers dress this up as a way of adding value to purchases, but a clearer way of looking at it is as a method of dissuading both piracy and, more importantly, purchasing games second hand – a practise that sees all revenue going to the retailer and none going to publishers.
“The EA Sports Online Pass seems like a mild introduction,” DFC Intelligence’s David Cole told IndustryGamers.
“I can see consumers griping, but really it seems entirely fair that if a consumer is buying a second hand copy they are not going to get direct support from the publisher.
“The reality is that these games are pretty expensive to develop and it is unrealistic to expect companies to support free online play forever. I think the bottom line in the industry requires companies to start to find ways to monetize online usage.”
Lazard Capital’s Colin Sebastian added: “It's a double-edged sword for publishers. On the one hand, it may discourage some used sales, but on the other hand, it devalues the used games that consumers would otherwise use as currency to buy new games.”