EA has begun eliminating its little-loved Online Pass program, the scheme which meant those playing second-hand games would need to pay separately for online access, with no new titles requiring the system and older titles being updated to remove it. The controversial scheme was initially introduced as a way for EA to monetize used games sales, with the Online Pass included in the original box but only being valid for a single account.
Now, though, EA is dropping the whole scheme, a decision it says came from having “listened to the feedback from players.” The first new games to ditch Online Pass will be the new EA SPORTS titles, though over the coming weeks EA will pare away as many incidences of it as it can.
Some games, however, won’t give up their Online Pass requirement so readily, EA has warned, though the publisher has a solution for that, too. Online Passes for those titles still requiring them will eventually be freely distributed via the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and the PlayStation Store.
“For new EA titles, Online Pass will no longer be needed or included. Additionally, we are in the process of eliminating Online Pass requirements from existing EA games. This process will take several weeks. For some games, the prompt to enter an Online Pass code will no longer appear; for others, you will still need to download and install an Online Pass, but they will be available free of charge from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace or PlayStation Store” EA
Signs of the changes were initially spotted by NeoGAF ahead of EA’s announcement, with the Online Pass downloads for several titles being dropped from 800 Microsoft Points on the Xbox 360, to free. There was also a price slash across various items of downloadable-content, access to which had initially been included free in the box (but offered at a cost to second-hand owners), to free from 1,200 points.
EA has warned gamers that, until a title has been updated to support the retirement of Online Pass, customer services staff won’t be able to give out free codes.
Making extra money off of second-hand sales is topical at present, given the lingering mystery around the next-gen consoles from Microsoft and Sony, and how they’ll deal with used purchases. Neither company has come out and confirmed the exact process by which the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will manage that, though there have been suggestions that mandatory registration systems for the Xbox One at least may build in an inescapable payment for both Microsoft and the publisher.