EA, effectively immediately, are stopping the controversial “online pass” program, a system that has seen widespread use since the publisher first starting using it despite complaints from end users. The system meant that anyone buying a game second hand would need to pay an additional fee (normally around £7 or so) to use the full set of features – principally online play.
Whilst EA were the first to use online passes – thought by many to be aimed at blocking second hand game sales – the likes of Ubisoft and Sony, among other top publishers, signed up quickly. Pretty much every Sony first party game needs an online pass now, whether it’s on the PS3 or the PlayStation Vita, although branding and message between companies differs slightly.
“Yes, we’re discontinuing Online Pass,” said John Reseburg, EA senior director of corporate communications in an email to VentureBeat. “None of our new EA titles will include that 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 continued, making it clear that this is EA reacting to end user feedback, something that should be applauded really. “We’ve listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward.”
The first game to use an online pass was Tiger Woods 2011.
Don’t relax yet, though – it looks like EA might have something else up their sleeve. “We’re still committed to creating content and services that enhance the game experience well beyond the day you first start playing,” said Reseburg. Whether this ends up being an extension of the current Origin service, or a reliance on the dreaded “always on” idea we don’t know yet.