EA Sports attacks used game sales by locking online modes


Beginning with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, all future EA Sports games will ship with a one-time use code which unlocks "multiplayer online play, group features like online dynasty and leagues, user created content, and bonus downloadable content." If the game is purchased used, the purchaser may pay $10 for a new code.

A completely transparent marketing-speak breakdown of the new "feature" and detailed lists of what the "Online Passes" unlock for each upcoming game are available on EA Sports' official site. All of the games' passes will be required to play online.

EA Sports certainly has a right to take a bite out of the used game market, which, from a strictly-financial business standpoint, is a loss and should be exploited. There is a huge profit margin on used games, and retailers are reaping all of that benefit. Meanwhile, it does cost EA Sports money to offer online services like leaderboards and tournaments.

From a consumer relations standpoint, however, penalizing used game purchasers won't help create new friends of the brand. Still, we're more surprised that this didn't happen sooner than that it happened at all - publishers want a cut of used games sales.

What do you think? Is EA Sports just another greedy, anti-consumer publisher, or is it fair for them to take a fee for online content? The drive for publishers to exploit used game sales is manifesting, and even if you don't care about playing Madden 11 online, this strategy may appear in other business plans down the line.

May 11, 2010


  • Hexar - May 14, 2010 5:50 a.m.

    Damn double post, ohwell. To add to what I wrote, and in response to your question regarding whether the sale of a game twice equals more money for the publisher and or developer it only equates to more money for the retailer. EA sells X amount of units of NBA2K10 to Gamestop and then it's up to them to move that many. If it's hot, great it will fly off the shelves. If not it will take up space and get marked down, but EA made their cash a long time ago. They make money by selling more copies when Gamestop orders more brand new copies from the publisher. The used games cut them out entirely and Gamestop simply purchases them from the consumer (for absurdly poor rates) and then turns around and sells them again.
  • Hexar - May 14, 2010 5:46 a.m.

    @sgh341 I see where you're coming from with your logic, that to be used the game has to be purchased retail in the first place, and yeah that holds true most definitely. But I believe their justification (and by they I mean the publishers/developers that complain about it) is that were there no used game market they would be more than likely forced into purchasing the game new. After all they seem intent on purchasing the game anyway, just looking to save a few bucks.
  • Abe504 - May 12, 2010 9:13 p.m.

    Well after reading up on this so-called project $10, im changed sides, its nothing like bad company 2 vip. they disabling a core feature of a game. unless you start selling the components of a game for separate prices, this aint gonna work. Im glad i only play NBA 2k10 for my sports game.
  • IHateMakingUserIDs - May 12, 2010 6:35 p.m.

    This is EA trying to avoid having download only games to block used sales. No company really want to go download only because no matter what game it is there will be lots of people not buying it because they end up having no equity in their purchase. EA is trying to straddle the fence here by selling copies while trying to force people not to buy used. This is an interesting strategy, Personally I think they have a right to do it but it is a very dirty thing to do. I read an article today about Wal-Mart going into the used game market again because they say it is 46% of the total gaming market. This is a large cash cow that publishers and devs are missing out on. I can't see a way which used game stores are going to want to stop taking 100% profit on used games and split it with the publishers and devs. And this is going to want to the games industry them create ways to block their games from being sold used. Right now that consists of download only, i.e. the PSP Go failure, and this strategy of locking content with codes. I have a feeling this is going to get worse for the gaming public before it gets better.
  • Apollomon - May 12, 2010 6:22 p.m.

    interestingly if you downloaded illegally, you could pay 10 quid and get a code to play online legally, unlike some companies who are pretty aware of fake it will stop people buying used games and get them to download more in my already said you dont generally save more than $10 (or £10 in my case) on a game, so where is the benefit if you have to buy a new code...people will just download it instead of buying used cause no one can dispute you paid for the service
  • sgh341 - May 12, 2010 1:48 p.m.

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but it seems to me that buying a used game can't hurt a company's sales at all. If you buy a used game, then that must have already been bought before, right? So really, aren't used games just making more money for a company by having the same game bought twice(or more)?
  • Tronto13 - May 12, 2010 7:49 a.m.

    I think this is wrong, buying/selling used games already is worse off for the consumer and this attacks them even more, EA should take money from the retailers not from the consumers!
  • GrievousAngel - May 12, 2010 5:23 a.m.

    We have two consoles in our house. And like to share our games. Hasn't been a problem with COD4, MW2, Halo 3, Battlefield--none of them. Now, we won't be able to share EA sports games without buying an extra "online pass." Total BS on the part of EA.
  • Hexar - May 12, 2010 4:25 a.m.

    While it's not the same as taking out a multiplayer feature a similar thing happened to me with Mass Effect 2. I was a bit strapped for cash at the time so I went over to old eBay to pick up a copy. Turns out I was unaware and the auction didn't make clear that the Cereberus network code was gone. DLC is one thing, and I wasn't really hurt that I didn't get what's his face, but what did bother me was from an achievement whore standpoint I was left with 1 that I simply refused to pay $15.00 to purchase and complete. From their standpoint I must admit it's a smart move and an effective way of cutting into Gamestop's profits (I realize there are plenty of other used retailers, but come on this the 800 lb. gorilla we're all talking about) which I always thought was an even greater affront to gaming (albeit not by much). It's all dollars and cents and I honestly can't fault them a bit for doing what they have available to them for what they see as a loss. Perhaps Gamestop will attempt a deal with EA to put the balls back on their used copies at their expense, but who knows. I wouldn't shed a single tear if this was a huge blow to Gamestop I can say that much. Take note automotive industry the savvy folks at EA have figured out to combat the common problem of used sales. Maybe there should be a one time steering feature on your automobile and that will solve the very similar heartache they have had since their inception.
  • ElGrinchoid - May 12, 2010 4:22 a.m.

    Not too big of a deal. That is of course unless you run a shop that does a lot of business in second hand games. EA are wankers, and this is just the perfect example of it. Not enough that they have to bring out a new version of the same game every year with barely anything that makes it distinguishable other than putting a new year on the front, now they're going to have these stupid codes. Everyone where I have my store trades their games in, it's just the way things are in the current climate. Everyone is skint, so if you do buy a game new and clock it, you trade it in, with some more hard earned cash for another. My customers won't be buying any EA games when I tell them that I won't be taking the trades at the normal prices as the origional codes won't work. This is after forking out a huge amount on the game new. Video games are far too expensive (as is all media) as it is, let alone trying to take away game trading. Oh and no one I know would buy a second hand game and then pay an extra 10 quid to unlock all the cool features, espcially stuff like multiplayer (which is the only thing that makes the EA games worthwile) Stupid and pointless. EA can go fuck themselves.
  • Cwf2008 - May 12, 2010 4:19 a.m.

    Capitalism at its finest!
  • Moondoggie1157 - May 12, 2010 4:08 a.m.

    Well, after reading this I vow not to support EA by buying any of their games new. I rarely buy brand new games as it is, but this is just ridiculous. I'm sure EA sports is really struggling... Perhaps if they released quality games instead of crap they would not be in financial turmoil (which, is a bunch of BS). In all honesty though, fuck 'em. They haven't made anything worthwhile in a long time (in my humble opinion) so instead of worrying about them, I figure I might as well focus and support the companies that produce quality. I wonder how long it will be until the whole game market follows suit... Kind of scary really...
  • EnragedTortoise1 - May 12, 2010 2:56 a.m.

  • RedOutlive10 - May 12, 2010 2:45 a.m.

    EA keeps biting the hands that feed them, I'm glad I don't play most of their garbage.
  • Modroneman - May 12, 2010 1:14 a.m.

    I believe that you should support the developers by buying new. So I have no problem with this. BUT, I also believe it should be a timed thing. Maybe 5 or 6 months after the game came out, online play should be free to everyone.
  • notthatgoodthanks - May 11, 2010 11:49 p.m.

    @Firestorm If they are that hard up...then run it by me why the can afford to out bid every game developer for every right to every sports game? I'm well aware of the games industry, but do link me this story of the EA sports division of EA games that is going through finnacial turmoil. I'm sorry, but the pre owned market is there because people BOUGHT those games and then re sold them, something that happens in every market. Its a con and you know about EA realise that re-hashing the same games every year, people actually get sick of it, so instead of buying them new, they wait. If EA games is struggling how about investing in something new?
  • Cyberninja - May 11, 2010 11:31 p.m.

    now i am glad i dont play sports games
  • SonicAcorn - May 11, 2010 11:09 p.m.

    I paid for the game, not a license. These measures cut off more than just used game sales. If the publishers want a cut,they should find a way to work with retailers, not penalize consumers.
  • Abe504 - May 11, 2010 9:49 p.m.

    is it really that big of a deal, its more like the bad company 2 incentive if you buy it brand new. if you buy it brand new, you get more free perks, if you don't the game is still functional, more than likely u just wont get the content rite off the bat which more than likely is some crappy multiplayer mode most people don't even play. Not too big of a deal
  • pepheb - May 11, 2010 9:38 p.m.

    good, no more renting ea games for me... people will get pissed (and no more bringing the game to a friends house)

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