I can’t say that I’m not happy to see this one go. It was a concept that consumers never liked the idea of in the first place. In a recent interview with VentureBeat, EA senior director of corporate communications, John Reseburg, states that going forward, none of the new EA titles would include the Online Pass “feature”. EA rationale for dropping it, was exactly what you would think, players didn’t like it and didn’t respond well to it.
This has major ramifications for the gaming industry as a whole I believe. EA basically brought the concept to Online Passes to the mainstream as far as console gaming back in 2010. Since that point, almost every game does it now and I hate it every time they do it. Originally, EA’s goal was to try and recoup some of the revenue they perceived that they were losing to the used game market. Ultimately, EA appears to be choosing the frame the decision to drop Online Passes as an example of them listening to the consumer. The real reason behind the move is more than likely the fact that it didn’t generate the kind of revenue they anticipated and it ultimately hurt their brand. As of the writing of this post, it was not clear whether the new policy will affect released games that have existing online pass structures.
At this point, it’s impossible to really understand what EA’s ultimate play will be. There has even been speculation that EA could be dropping it because the PS4 and Xbox Infinity will have some kind of integrated function that basically does the same thing negating the need for a separate feature. Another theory has the average price of games going up by $10 or so on next generation consoles and thus they are able to make up some guaranteed money on the initial purchase while getting rid of a feature that didn’t do them any favors with consumers. While it’s possible, I wouldn’t bet on it as it would just shift consumer anger from the publishers to the console makers and that’s bad press they don’t need at the start of a new console generation.
Will this start a wave of similar moves from other major publishers? Maybe. If one or two major publishers come out (talking to you Ubisoft and Activision) and follow suit then I think that would pretty much kill Online Passes across the industry. I mean other publishers did it under the vain that “EA’s doing it”, but with the about face from EA, for the other publishers it now turns into a question of why are you still doing it? I for one think this is a great move, I hate when publishers try to nickel and dime us on every little thing. We’ve already paid hundred for the console and $60+ for the game, give us a break.