EA dropping Online Pass

EA has been a trendsetter in the realm of post-release, digital content, but it's now backing off one of its most prominent tools. At an event in LA today, EA senior VP of corporate communications Jeff Brown confirmed for GamesRadar that the company would be backing away from its Online Pass scheme, due in large part to fan dissatisfaction.

"We thought it was a cool way to package up online services and content," Brown said. "It never got off the ground. Consumers didn't like it. We listened to what they were saying and decided it wasn't worth doing it again...Consumers just didn't like it."

Brown went on to note that gamers should not expect Online Pass to return any time soon. "There's a lot of plans to keep building in new content and services," he said. "But no, there's no plan to package this stuff up. And frankly that was a secondary concern. And no, I'm not aware of any project that does that."

Introduced with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 in June 2010, the Online Pass program generally involved sequestering away online functionality behind a one-time use code. These codes came packed-in with new copies of games. However, those who picked up the game second-hand, be it through as a used game, rental, or otherwise, were required to pay $10 to buy their own, individual code.

The Online Pass scheme quickly caught with other publishers, including Activision, Ubisoft, Sony, and WB Interactive.


  • phil-bridge - May 17, 2013 12:40 a.m.

    They will probably just link the game to your Game handle or console instead so the disc etc won't work on another machine.
  • Krazee - May 16, 2013 6:52 p.m.

    C'mon everybody, is it too wild of a concept to think that maybe EA is just doing something nice for it's customers for once?
  • talkradarFTW - May 16, 2013 5:52 p.m.

    Be sure to let everyone know that its EA doing away with the unpopular thing that EA introduced to the world. Can't take credit for it if whatever is coming next is going to do it for you anyways.
  • darkrider105 - May 16, 2013 7:16 a.m.

    Oh no! they have figured out some worse way to screw gamers that they canceled the Online pass!
  • winner2 - May 16, 2013 5:49 a.m.

    Did anyone listen to Coop's explanation of why not to hate online passes on the last radio radar?
  • Shadow Of Death - May 16, 2013 3:13 a.m.

    Hmpfff. The Online Pass system isn't even a problem for me, so long as used game sellers aren't ripping you off (they're the problem, not the online passes themselves). Used game retailers were selling used games for $5 off the brand new price, and they paid half of that, maybe a bit more or less. They make out like bandits with the used game market. Mind, they don't get much money from new game sales to be fair. So basically, it's a battle between two different business models relying on the same product with the customer stuck in the middle. One way or another, one of the companies is going to lose money. I'm more on the side of the developer/publisher though, as without them the game wouldn't exist to be sold. The online pass assured companies using it that they'd get at least a cut of the money from game sales, so long as the customer wanted to use the online features. EA's done much worse things to us than the online pass system. At least that system was pretty fair and sound concept.
  • mafyooz - May 15, 2013 11:54 p.m.

    The whole Online Pass thing has never been much of an issue for me because if I'm really interested in a game I buy it new, and I generally only play Online Multiplayer stuff about 3 times before I get bored of it anyway. Still, call me a cynic but I can't see EA dropping a money-grubbing feature like this unless they are planning to replace it with something much worse....
  • SenorHurt - May 16, 2013 7:33 a.m.

    In reference to EA dropping online pass as being a company dropping a money-grubbing feature. Here's why they're doing it. If you making $10 from one sale of an online pass and you see that 10% of all games sold end up selling an online pass and the total number of games sold equals or surpasses last year sale, well, then you're golden. However, if you're sales of the game this year are not equal to or greater than last years by even a small percentage than you can't make up that difference with the online pass. So if a lot of your sales in the past have been made off of rental companies who are responding to online pass, based on customer dissatisfaction, by buying less of your game then you're up a creek without a paddle.
  • mafyooz - May 16, 2013 7:47 a.m.

    Interesting point. I think the last game I rented was Space Hulk on PS1 so I've never really thought about the effect things like online passes have on that market, you may well be onto something there
  • ObliqueZombie - May 15, 2013 11:46 p.m.

    I see a change of heart for this company. At least I hope. JUST BRING MY STAR WARS HOME BEFORE CURFEW!
  • Vordhosbn - May 15, 2013 11:13 p.m.

    I'm wary. A big company like EA doesn't just throw away a "$10 charge" without having some kind of back up plan, surely. Maybe they're planning to split titles into Single Player and Multiplayer versions....*shudder*.
  • pl4y4h - May 15, 2013 11:04 p.m.

    I was (for lack of a better word) a virgin to the whole online pass thing so when SSX came out I waited a little bit and bought it used to save some money. I'd wanted to play online and compete with my friends but as soon as i saw that payment screen i was so angry because most of the money i had saved just went right back into the game. Thank god they're removing it, but it is still is frustrating to know that i was essentially ripped off.
  • BladedFalcon - May 15, 2013 10:53 p.m.

    Wow! Color me surprised! Of course, there's still a lot of things that EA has fucked up with. But I'm not gonna deny that this is a pretty fucking sweet step forward. If they keep it that way, perhaps I'll remove my boycott sooner than I thought... Also, here's hoping the rest of the douche companies that used online passes will also get the hint and drop it as well >_>
  • FoxdenRacing - May 16, 2013 10:50 a.m.

    I'm not going to hold my breath. Notice how often the guy remarked that they're not going to 'package' it anymore; he never said they'd stop selling access to multiplayer. That doesn't preclude them from making multiplayer "included", but peacemealing it off. This game has 10 maps! One free, buy the others for $2 each. [Hey, it's not packaged!] Classes, 1 free, $1 each.
  • BladedFalcon - May 16, 2013 11:25 a.m.

    Sure, And there's plenty of crummy practices that EA still uses or has just recently implemented. I'm not saying they might stop being a shitty corporation. Just that, at the very least, they have heard people and recognized that what they were doing with online passes was a douchy move against customers. Yeah, they might just try new ways to screw people over, but at the very least we now know that we have the potential to call them out on their bullshit and have them change their methods in result. The trick is to make our voice KNOWN.
  • N7Spartan95 - May 17, 2013 6:19 a.m.

    Maybe the departure of the old CEO was a sign of positive change. Unlikely, but a person can hope, right?
  • BladedFalcon - May 17, 2013 7:23 a.m.

    Pretty sure Riticello was just a cog in the larger problem machine that is the EA corporation. Like all large companies, often, the CEO is just the figurehead but the decisions also fall with the greedy shareholders as well. Who to me, are probably the REAL problem, so long as they care of nothing but getting more money.
  • SomeOddGuy - May 15, 2013 10:30 p.m.

    I'm surprised by many things here, considering you state EA started this whole fiasco when it was actually Sony that started the whole damn thing from the start with SOCOM Fireteam Bravo 3, charging $20 for their own pass while the online functions were still existent. That game predates EA's Tiger Woods 11 by four whole months, though I'm guessing it's minor play here since EA seems to have a habit of popularizing unfavorable trends, especially since they were the first to actually do it on a home console. Patapon 3 also followed suit with an online pass of its own, as with many more Sony titles to come. Still, I'm actually surprised that EA is actually dropping this. I mean certainly their admittance is half assed(considering the service was never favorable for the entire 3 years they've been going on with that), but they're actually stopping.(maybe...)
  • P0ck3tC1am - May 15, 2013 8:54 p.m.

    Now the slow dig out of the hole begins.
  • someonetgsn - May 15, 2013 8:48 p.m.

    I suppose that this does not mean that EA will remove online pass requirements for existing titles though, right?

Showing 1-20 of 37 comments

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