EA flips on used games, calls them an "important part of the industry"

Last generation saw Electronic Arts launch a crusade against used game sales with a number of cockamamie schemes. After years of DRM, Day One DLC, and Online Passes, gamers rebelled, which was the obvious reaction, and then EA backed down, which was the predictable response. But now, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen is calling used games "an important part of the industry" that helps keeps game prices down, flip-flopping so hard that the impact of his words caused a small-scale earthquake. 

"People think about the prices of games based on the fact that they can still return that game and they need a physical disc to do that," Jorgensen said during a UBS Global Technology Conference. "And so that will probably keep the physical business around for some period of time."

What's with the sudden change of heart? Five years back, Electronic Arts, along with damn near every other game publisher, was trying to find the perfect knife to shove into the back of used games and, by proxy, the people who bought them. EA blamed GameStop's second-hand business for its failed franchises and vilified anyone with the audacity to buy something used. Now their Chief Financial Officer is singing their praises like they're the best thing since microtransactions (or whatever Chief Financial Officers get off on).

But if you've been following industry trends, Jorgensen's reasoning makes sense. Essentially, he believes EA can still make money off people who buy things used. "So you might still buy a physical disc," he added, "but you might extend the gameplay on that by 10 or 12 months based on digital extensions to it where all that comes via downloads coming in smaller pieces."

While you might be tempted to stare daggers in the publisher's seemingly hypocritical direction, it's hard to deny that this actually ended up working out for the best for basically everyone involved. After a generation of blaming the gamer for doing what was good for his or her own self-interest, Electronic Arts has actually responded to what the market wants.

People who buy new still get to buy new unencumbered, but they'll be offered more stuff to give them excuses to keep playing. Sure, they'll need to buy said stuff, but so long as the content is worthwhile, people won't complain. Those godless heathens (EA's words, not ours) that buy used also get a good deal, since they're allowed to keep doin' what they're doin' without being guilted into feeling responsible for the death of the industry. Hell, even developers benefit from this; it's hard to justify laying off half your staff after a game ships when you're still on the hook for 12 months of content.

You can already see this in action with Battlefield 4, which offers bountiful rewards for those who sign up for Battlefield Premium. Premium gives players monthly in-game items, all of the DLC, and occasional boosts. In other words, it's stuff that's wholly unnecessary unless you actually want to play the game--something that should help keep this sort of thing in check. If the content was garbage, and the game wasn't good, no one would sign up for Premium. Similarly, because the bonus content in no way compromises or diminishes the core experience, gamers won't be up in arms about being sold parts of the experience that should have been packed on to the disc.

It's win-win, no matter how hilariously hypocritical it might sound. The only real downside here is that we now must think long and hard about what new thing we should now complain about. I vote for goddamn turtles.


  • NinjaPopsicle - November 25, 2013 1:23 p.m.

    Lol. Gotta shed the stigma of winning the title of "Worst company in America" twice, somehow. I might start to care when people don't have to spend like a grand just to make a new Sims game have *almost* as much stuff as the previous one. Or maybe they can realize that instead of a yearly tweaked roster and a "new" feature, they can just give out roster updates for a year or two and take the time to properly improve on a sports game. Wake me when Origin is dead.
  • yonderTheGreat - November 20, 2013 11:32 a.m.

    Um... EA launched Project Ten Dollar nearly four years ago guys...
  • Darklurkr23 - November 19, 2013 6:02 p.m.

    So what i better get to downloading all teh ffree passes from EA right quck while they're still free?
  • JustAnotherRogueAI - November 19, 2013 5:59 p.m.

    You know that there's a problem with your company when my mind reads "EA" and "Used Games" in the same sentence, and it instantly turns "Important" into "unimportant". Seriously, that's actually how I read the title at first. My brain is making me hate EA even when they're not doing something evil.
  • GamesRadarCollanderCooper - November 19, 2013 5:43 p.m.

    Once the PS4 and Xbox One is cracked and you start seeing illegal games online, they'll flip-flop back to online passes
  • Doctalen - November 19, 2013 5:21 p.m.

    I feel like EA took pity on Microsoft for their flip flopping decisions and decided to remedy their embarrassment by creating a bigger flip flop wave. On another note, I don't know if I should be begging for EA to be burned at the stake out of spite or if I should mistrust them, or to call bullshit. EA did something smart, the apocalypse is coming.
  • JustAnotherRogueAI - November 19, 2013 5:46 p.m.

    *Queue epic preacher voice* "One day, the Lords of the Arts of Electronics shall climb to the highest peak of the highest mountain, over the widest plain, and the deepest ocean, and they shall proclaim, that which they have denied for so many long years, that used games are not evil! That they are the greatest gifts videogamekind has to offer! That they are a part of our lives, and that we should embrace them as such! And on this same day, as the Lords of EA descend from their office chai- er... mountain peak, a storm of fire shall rain down from the heavens, smiting the unholy flip-floppers! Humankind shall pay the price for bearing such indecisive animals as these in high authority, and we, too, shall be set ablaze by the fires of God! Thus saith the Lord! Now please don't forget to vote EA as the worst company in America again as you leave the church. Thank you."
  • Swedish_Chef - November 20, 2013 5:42 a.m.

    Actually just today EA also said that they don't plan to annualise the Battlefield series as they feel they don't have the resources to be able to do so without the quality suffering. EA making smart decisions? Clearly this is a sign that the end is nigh.

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