Whether or not you agree with the industry’s near-universal adoption of Online Pass services or an equivalent attempt to push back on used games, you expect the code to work when you buy new.
EA is, thankfully, standing behind those games, and recommends users to contact the company. This statement was sent to me last night:
EA Online Pass codes for first-purchase games do not expire as long as EA’s servers support that product. Customer service is our top priority--anyone encountering a problem redeeming an Online Pass for an EA game should contact EA Customer Support at 866-543-5435 for assistance.
It’s an extra, annoying hoop to jump through for a legitimate purchase, but that’s a separate issue.