EA Ditches Online Passes for Future Games

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Posted by Alex (2036 posts) -
You'll find no more of these silly codes to enter just to play online multiplayer.

If you've ever had to enter a code just to use the online features of a new game, you can thank EA for that. The publisher essentially invented the single-use code concept as a way of combating used game sales, ensuring that new purchasers could jump right in (provided the code actually worked), and anyone who bought a second-hand copy would have to pay a fee to get online. As much as many people hated it, EA kept doing it, and other publishers quickly followed suit.

Now, strangely enough, the publisher that started this whole thing has decided it no longer plans to bother with it. Speaking to GamesBeat yesterday, EA's head of corporate communications John Reseberg let it be known that EA would no longer be including online passes in its games.

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

It's an interesting quote, given that players most certainly did respond to the Online Pass concept, albeit primarily in negative fashion. It's also possible that EA simply didn't see enough value in the revenue derived from Online Passes. The company made between $10 and $15 million strictly from Online Passes in its first year including them, though those numbers might not have been enough to justify continuing on in the face of the audience's displeasure.

I doubt any of you out there in Giant Bomb land will shed a single tear over this. I know I certainly won't be. The only question I have now is, if EA has ditched this method of circumventing used game sales, does that mean it has a better--or, perhaps, more aggressive--method on the horizon? Maybe something to do with new consoles and built-in checks for new/used games? Just speculating, of course, but I doubt anyone would be too surprised if something like that came to fruition.

Staff
#1 Posted by Sooty (8082 posts) -

Waiting for the catch.

#2 Edited by MrGtD (465 posts) -

They have to be moving to something else, they had to have been making some decent money off of this plan.

Online
#3 Edited by Ghostiet (5250 posts) -

Perhaps they plan a shift to more multiplayer ventures? I remember they didn't do an Online Pass for Syndicate specifically because the main draw was the co-op.

#4 Edited by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -

I bet they will lean much heavier into micro transactions.

#5 Posted by JordanaRama (183 posts) -

Eh. Online Passes don't really bug me in concept, but I get why they would want to do away with them.

#6 Posted by Ghost_Cat (1430 posts) -

@sooty said:

Waiting for the catch.

Was thinking the same thing. For now, however, this is pleasant news.

#7 Edited by HellknightLeon (464 posts) -

@sooty said:

Waiting for the catch.

Was thinking the same thing. For now, however, this is pleasant news.

Agreed.

#8 Posted by Oscar__Explosion (2243 posts) -

I bet they will lean much heavier into micro transactions.

This is totally what I'm thinking. Why else would they give in?

#9 Posted by Benny (1951 posts) -

@ghost_cat said:

@sooty said:

Waiting for the catch.

Was thinking the same thing. For now, however, this is pleasant news.

Agreed.

Well online passes are supposed to curtail used game sales, so EA must somehow think that used game sales will be dropping in the future (always online perhaps?)

#11 Posted by Rirse (262 posts) -

Now ditch Origin only releases and put your games back on Steam.

#12 Edited by Warchief (657 posts) -

@sooty: [best guess] the catch will be that they will enable always online using the services in both new consoles. Best way to say your console will not require always online DRM is to give publishers the ability to turn it on themselves.

#13 Posted by Bollard (5435 posts) -

This can only get worse.

Offline passes!

#14 Posted by cooljammer00 (1641 posts) -

I think the catch might be pushing for more microtransactions. You can't be nickeled and dimed if you aren't able to connect to their online services.

#15 Posted by WilliamHenry (1202 posts) -

@the_laughing_man said:

I bet they will lean much heavier into micro transactions.

This is totally what I'm thinking. Why else would they give in?

I imagine that the next set of consoles will also allow them to do implement some type of online pass system as well, as disappointing as that sounds.

#16 Edited by perilator666 (443 posts) -

this changes nothing, EA. you're still douchbags.

#17 Edited by Fobwashed (1985 posts) -

Or maybe they know that the next gen consoles will have some kind of feature built in that'll handle the online pass part for them. Possibly locking disks/games to a single console or some such business.

#18 Edited by White (1341 posts) -

No Online Pass, but now every game would require you to log into your Origin account to which they will pair it with the disc. Herp derp.

#19 Posted by Beyond_the_infinite (102 posts) -

@the_laughing_man said:

I bet they will lean much heavier into micro transactions.

This is totally what I'm thinking. Why else would they give in?

#20 Edited by Cryogenic (3 posts) -

I wouldn't be surprised to see the online pass just move to an account based type of auth i.e. first time you start the game with the game it authorizes your account and then the next person that uses it then has to pay a fee to get in. Basically building the pass into the game disc.

#21 Posted by heatDrive88 (2310 posts) -

@the_laughing_man said:

I bet they will lean much heavier into micro transactions.

This is totally what I'm thinking. Why else would they give in?

To be honest though, do we even know how well that stuff is even selling?

I'm sure there's some people out there who are buying into micro-transactions in full-retail $60 products (whether it's Mass Effect 3, Dead Space 3, etc.), but I'd be curious to know just how well that stuff sells before assuming they want to lean heavier into it.

Then again, it's an assumption, but the return on investment for those micro-transactions are probably ridiculously high. The only feasible cost I can think of that can come from it are Microsoft/Sony licensing fees.

#22 Edited by emperordahc (14 posts) -

They're just going to give us less and less multiplayer content on the disc, moving most of that content into DLC. Expect only 2-4 maps on all multiplayer games now, and the first DLC will be the "real" set of maps and cost $10. There could be one-time use "online pass" style code in the case that unlocks the first DLC for "free". This is just PR garbage.

#23 Posted by devilzrule27 (1239 posts) -

Not a surprise. The needed something to trade off for a little good publicity. It doest bring them in a whole lot of money and consumers seemed to have hated it for whatever silly reason, even the ones who buy all their games new which makes absolutely no sense to me as to why they would be angry over such a thing.

Plus as others have said who knows what kind of help they'll get from the new consoles to combat used games sales. Perhaps they simply think as they move further into the future digital releases will become an even bigger thing which will naturally offset the used game market.

#24 Edited by Sackmanjones (4688 posts) -

I never found this terribly offensive, just a slight inconvenience except of you buy the game used. I'm sure some codes didn't work out of the box and that's a pain in the ass but still. Anyway, it'll be nice to to have to input a code before I play a game anymore (even though Sony has taken up this online pass deal as well)

#25 Posted by Oscar__Explosion (2243 posts) -

I wouldn't be surprised to see the online pass just move to an account based type of auth i.e. first time you start the game with the game it authorizes your account and then the next person that uses it then has to pay a fee to get in. Basically building the pass into the game disc.

@oscar__explosion said:

@the_laughing_man said:

I bet they will lean much heavier into micro transactions.

This is totally what I'm thinking. Why else would they give in?

I imagine that the next set of consoles will also allow them to do implement some type of online pass system as well, as disappointing as that sounds.

So basically CD-Keys?

#26 Posted by Brodehouse (9875 posts) -

New consoles are obviously designed ground up for Steam style DRM.

#27 Posted by Darson (450 posts) -

Say what? EA doing something logical and/or reasonable?

Someone check my pulse, I think I'm fucking dead.

Next they should do away with all their current online passes. Y'know, so we still don't have to pay for them when we can only find their games used.

#28 Edited by granderojo (1778 posts) -

I'm actually quite bummed that EA is dropping this because it means less revenue coming into EA, a company on the brink of collapse. A company that has given my life more enjoyment than most.

This isn't good at all.

#29 Edited by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -

@mrgtd said:

They have to be moving to something else, they had to have been making some decent money off of this plan.

I would say was the decision made by the new CEO of EA, also they make way over 100 million dollars on FIFA Ultimate Team each year so the more online connected games the better to them in the long run.

#30 Posted by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -

I wouldn't be surprised to see the online pass just move to an account based type of auth i.e. first time you start the game with the game it authorizes your account and then the next person that uses it then has to pay a fee to get in. Basically building the pass into the game disc.

I see no problem with this, computer games have been doing it for years. If you have to authorize your game online to play online their really is no issue if you can still play the offline portion of the game offline.

#31 Edited by Winsord (1208 posts) -

This going away just makes me curious as to what's next. If some EA games come out without online passes or crappy DRM, it'll certainly be a nice change of pace. I wouldn't be surprised though if this just ends up resulting in them shutting down 'old' games' online servers sooner rather than later.

Online
#32 Posted by cikame (993 posts) -

You know what i'd like?
The same code but which allows you to play the game without the disc, an incentive to buy new, but not necessary to enjoy the game if you buy used.

(i just want disc free gaming, but my british internet isn't exactly fast or unlimited yet).

#33 Posted by MeatSim (10834 posts) -

I never really buy used games, but I won't miss having to enter 25 character codes.

#34 Posted by Phr4nk0 (349 posts) -

No more online passes... just flat out serial numbers!

#35 Posted by FuriousJodo (123 posts) -

@sooty: Catch is likely that every game will essentially be an Online Pass - I expect the next generation of consoles to basically work like Steam does today. You will be able to buy games digitally day one, and if you do buy a physical copy it will essentially be an Install disc that you won't use after you've installed the game.

#36 Edited by 42manZ (105 posts) -

@benny said:

@hellknightleon said:

@ghost_cat said:

@sooty said:

Waiting for the catch.

Was thinking the same thing. For now, however, this is pleasant news.

Agreed.

Well online passes are supposed to curtail used game sales, so EA must somehow think that used game sales will be dropping in the future (always online perhaps?)

Alternatively it could be the negative response to Always Online that led to this decision. As much as losing that extra buck may hurt, it would be even worse if nobody was buying your game at all due to poor sales of a console. Also it is not like Always Online will stop the sale of used games, unless the rumors of accounts being tied to games is true. Really I would chalk this up to a change in management. As much as the Online Passes might have made, they probably also affected game sales. So I am curious to see if there are any other changes in this style.

#37 Edited by LegendaryChopChop (1199 posts) -

This is excellent news, online passes just further alienated people from playing against others online.

But let's hope this doesn't make way for something worse...

#38 Edited by DirkGently (93 posts) -

The offensive part was them charging a special online pass supposedly to support the ongoing cost of servers (which they insisted they run in the first place, instead of letting Microsoft run them on the 360). Then proceeding to shut down every server they can 2-3 years after the games come out.

I never found this terribly offensive, just a slight inconvenience except of you buy the game used. I'm sure some codes didn't work out of the box and that's a pain in the ass but still. Anyway, it'll be nice to to have to input a code before I play a game anymore (even though Sony has taken up this online pass deal as well)

#39 Edited by crusader8463 (14419 posts) -

@42manz said:

@benny said:

@hellknightleon said:

@ghost_cat said:

@sooty said:

Waiting for the catch.

Was thinking the same thing. For now, however, this is pleasant news.

Agreed.

Well online passes are supposed to curtail used game sales, so EA must somehow think that used game sales will be dropping in the future (always online perhaps?)

Alternatively it could be the negative response to Always Online that led to this decision. As much as losing that extra buck may hurt, it would be even worse if nobody was buying your game at all due to poor sales of a console. Also it is not like Always Online will stop the sale of used games, unless the rumors of accounts being tied to games is true. Really I would chalk this up to a change in management. As much as the Online Passes might have made, they probably also affected game sales. So I am curious to see if there are any other changes in this style.

EA is going super heavy into nickel and diming by cutting content in games to hide behind microtransactions and DLC. So they are banking on making their money back in game from these because even if you buy their game used you will still have to fork over even more money in game if you want the complete game. Removing this just removes one less step to try and get people into their eco system where they make even more money on that stuff then the extra $10 they get from an online pass. This is not them doing anything out of the goodness of their hearts or them trying to help their consumers.

#40 Posted by jayjonesjunior (1087 posts) -

Who needs Online Passes when M$ has always on DRM...

#41 Edited by greeface (1 posts) -

@mrgtd said:

They have to be moving to something else, they had to have been making some decent money off of this plan.

they would have had to have had been.

#42 Edited by CakeBomb (218 posts) -

PC has DRM, consoles may adopt no used games policy too, why bother with an online pass?

#43 Edited by Phished0ne (2497 posts) -

I dont see why people got so riled up over Online Passes anyway. They were essentially CD-Keys for console games. As someone who has been around computer games since the Commodore 64, I never got the big deal over current DRM. At least we aren't using these anymore.

#44 Posted by DirkGently (93 posts) -

@42manz said:

@benny said:

@hellknightleon said:

@ghost_cat said:

@sooty said:

Waiting for the catch.

Was thinking the same thing. For now, however, this is pleasant news.

Agreed.

Well online passes are supposed to curtail used game sales, so EA must somehow think that used game sales will be dropping in the future (always online perhaps?)

Alternatively it could be the negative response to Always Online that led to this decision. As much as losing that extra buck may hurt, it would be even worse if nobody was buying your game at all due to poor sales of a console. Also it is not like Always Online will stop the sale of used games, unless the rumors of accounts being tied to games is true. Really I would chalk this up to a change in management. As much as the Online Passes might have made, they probably also affected game sales. So I am curious to see if there are any other changes in this style.

EA is going super heavy into nickel and diming by cutting content in games to hide behind microtransactions and DLC. So they are banking on making their money back in game from these because even if you buy their game used you will still have to fork over even more money in game if you want the complete game. Removing this just removes one less step to try and get people into their eco system where they make even more money on that stuff then the extra $10 they get from an online pass. This is not them doing anything out of the goodness of their hearts or them trying to help their consumers.

Let a man charge you a $10 one time fee for a used game to function online, and he will make a tidy profit. But teach him how to charge you $1 a time for random in-game one time use consumable item and he'll never want for money again.

#45 Posted by EuanDewar (4892 posts) -

It's an interesting quote, given that players most certainly did respond to the Online Pass concept, albeit primarily in negative fashion.

I dont think thats what he meant, I think when he said they didn't respond I think he means they didn't respond positively.

#46 Edited by Gremmel (44 posts) -

Removing one unbelievable cash-grab isn't going to change shit. I'd really like to play Battlefield 4. Not going to in a million years.

#47 Posted by 42manZ (105 posts) -

@crusader8463 said:

@42manz said:

@benny said:

@hellknightleon said:

@ghost_cat said:

@sooty said:

Waiting for the catch.

Was thinking the same thing. For now, however, this is pleasant news.

Agreed.

Well online passes are supposed to curtail used game sales, so EA must somehow think that used game sales will be dropping in the future (always online perhaps?)

Alternatively it could be the negative response to Always Online that led to this decision. As much as losing that extra buck may hurt, it would be even worse if nobody was buying your game at all due to poor sales of a console. Also it is not like Always Online will stop the sale of used games, unless the rumors of accounts being tied to games is true. Really I would chalk this up to a change in management. As much as the Online Passes might have made, they probably also affected game sales. So I am curious to see if there are any other changes in this style.

EA is going super heavy into nickel and diming by cutting content in games to hide behind microtransactions and DLC. So they are banking on making their money back in game from these because even if you buy their game used you will still have to fork over even more money in game if you want the complete game. Removing this just removes one less step to try and get people into their eco system where they make even more money on that stuff then the extra $10 they get from an online pass. This is not them doing anything out of the goodness of their hearts or them trying to help their consumers.

Let a man charge you a $10 one time fee for a used game to function online, and he will make a tidy profit. But teach him how to charge you $1 a time for random in-game one time use consumable item and he'll never want for money again.

Oh I definitely agree that is a direction they will take it, that is really where many developers are taking development. I merely meant what you guys also said, that this is going to be there way to make their hooks seem less egregious. I never meant my comment to infer that EA is trying to turn saint, merely that they are working on their image. That isn't whether or not tehy are actually a good company, but how people see them. I know people who will see the removal of the online pass as "a victory," but will not even balk at micro-transactions.

#48 Posted by MildMolasses (3219 posts) -

@sooty said:

Waiting for the catch.

The catch is that they are making more money through microtransactions than they ever did by selling online passes to people who bought the game used.

Also, I'm sure that EA wasn't the first people to do this, I know they adopted it on a wider scale before other publishers, but I swear I entered a code on a THQ game or something before any EA game

#49 Posted by fiberpay (282 posts) -

I love how this article still has a negative tone even thought EA is doing a pretty awesome thing, something people in the game industry always talk about, they actually listened to the CONSUMER. Sure there might be a catch later on but that is all just speculation, and to down play this because of speculation is pretty dumb.

#50 Posted by Sneakybadger (225 posts) -

This will please rental and game stores at least.

I'm sure there will be some form of "you bought the game here's some loot" bonus though.

or DLC that's not going away eh?

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