EA kills its Online Pass program

Mar 19, 2009
Toronto, Canada
EA is doing away with its Online Pass program from this point forward, a decision the publisher says is partially based on player response.

“Yes, we’re discontinuing Online Pass,” EA senior director of corporate communications John Reseburg confirmed to GamesBeat in an e-mail. “None of our new EA titles will include that feature.”

Battlefield 3 and a number of other EA games such as Madden NFL use Online Pass. You need it in order to play many of a game’s online features, including multiplayer. A code activates the Pass, which has a one-time use. You need a new code (which the publisher offers, of course, for a fee) if you’re playing the game on another console or if you bought the software used and the original owner redeemed the original. But players never embraced this feature.

“Initially launched as an effort to package a full menu of online content and services, many players didn’t respond to the format,” Reseburg said. “We’ve listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward.”

Online Pass is seen by publishers as a bulwark against the second-hand market, which retailer GameStop dominates. Publishers were worried that consumers were buying games used instead of new — especially big games with popular multiplayer modes. So the online pass became a way that publishers forced consumers to either buy a game new — or pay extra for online.

But from this point forward, you won’t need an Online Pass for any of EA’s games online.

“We’re still committed to creating content and services that enhance the game experience well beyond the day you first start playing,” Reseburg said.

EA wasn’t the only publisher using an online pass system. Activision and Ubisoft are among a handful that make use of it.
Jan 20, 2013
Whoa, whoa. The response must have been very negative and affected sales significantly for this to happen.

Hopefully others follow through, but I'm very surprised. Then again, it could mean implementation of online-only.