EA has just given gamers the finger, as in the pointing one. Stating an effort to fight piracy and the used games market from cutting into their profit margins, they have introduced the Online Pass.
The Online Pass is a code that will come with, at first select, EA packaged titles. The code will allow you full access to your purchase. Without it, you’re stuck in offline mode. They say that it "rewards" gamers with "game-specific, one-time-use registration code for online services, features and bonus content."
Whoa, online services? So what they are saying is that you won’t be able to get your new game online unless, well, you’re online. That’s fine I guess except that it’s on the PS3 and Xbox 360, systems which have built-in online game offerings for most titles. So they’re going to launch their games and cut them off from any sort of XBLA or PSN services.
Now we see the true evil behind them running all of their games on their own servers. They can simply block access to whomever they wish when they haven’t got the secret handshake and password.
Oh and get this. Since the codes are single-use. If at any time in the future you need a new one, when you buy a used game, trade with a friend, or for whatever reason, you’ll have to fork over an additional $10. They did not mention what the codes will be tied to but presumably it will either be hardware locked or PSN/XBLA account locked. Because it obviously can’t be locked to the specific game disc.
Repeat after me everyone: MO-NEY GRAB!
Apparently, they’re not satisfied with overcharging you for sub-par games or additional download content that should have been included in the original game. Nope, now they want to gouge you for more money and penalize those of us who trade games or buy used. Now a game will need to be at least $15 under the original or current full retail price in order for it to be a good buy on the used markets.
Considering the lackluster performance of some of EA’s titles, that won’t be a problem. But listen to this nonsense from Peter Moore, President of EA Sports, “This is an important inflection point in our business because it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhance premium online services to the entire robust EA SPORTS online community,”
Umm, yeah. How exactly does it do that again? Perhaps by locking out a large cross-section of the community? That’s going to certainly foster some serious sense of togetherness.
Gamestop wants in on the action as well. So they’ve announced that they’re more than happy to sell you a PSN or XBLA points card when you purchase any new or used EA title. You know, so you can get those codes for your non-new EA games. How does that benefit you? Well, it doesn’t but according to Dan DeMatteo, Chief Executive Officer of GameStop Corp it really benefits them, “This relationship allows us to capitalize on our investments to market and sell downloadable content online, as well as through our network of stores worldwide.”You can probably read that as "Cha-ching baby! We’re gonna rake in some dough!"
Alright, being online to access online content is nothing extraordinary. But having to put in a code just to access content that looks like it should have been included in the original game? That’s just ridiculous. Then having to drop an extra $10 just to get online if you buy a used version of a game? Are they going to fully extend this to online multiplayer? Can you imagine picking up a used copy of oh say Skate or Madden or Tiger and then not being able to play online because of some stinking code? That would be enough for me to just switch over to other publishers’ titles who don’t require the code but do allow me online.
This must all be part of some elaborate plan to increase the sales of 2K Sports titles and we’re just not seeing the big picture.