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. (opens in new tab) All of the games' passes will be required to play online.

EA Sports certainly hasa right to take a bite out of the used game market, which, from a strictly-financial business standpoint, is a loss andshould 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 newfriends of the brand. Still, we're more surprised that thisdidn't happensooner than that ithappened 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

Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer