Renowned publisher Electronic Arts announced Monday that with the release of their new videogame, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, a new feature (or lack of one) would become more present on future EA SPORTS genre titles they release.
The release stated that the games would now feature an “Online Pass” which would allow gamers who bought the game new, to open up access to the online features of the game, primarily the ability to play online against other opponents.
The pass would only be for single-use, which would make any gamer who wished to buy the title used (in order to save money) shell out an additional $10 for an online pass key, or be barred from online features (past a seven-day trial period), according to the press release.Peter Moore, the president of EA SPORTS commented in the press release on the upcoming tactic as “strategic” and a way to “enhance premium online services to the entire robust EA SPORTS online community.”
Recent reports on used video game sales apparently chipping away at profit for publishers however, point to a possibly different motive for the implementation of the online pass.
The inception of an online pass may be a way that the developer is attempting to generate profit from games that they otherwise receive little to no royalties from, as the profit made from reselling the titles is generally made by the used game retailer. (Just like buying a book from a store, then selling it to a friend, the publisher only sees profit from the first sale and not the numerous resells after that.)
One commenter known as Weatherlight on a gamepolitics.com article about the pass, voiced his or her frustration that the additional charge for an online pass is just building on the cost to play games in general: “ I dont like this one bit. I just paid for Xbox Live, so I could play online. Now your telling me I need to pay another fee if I bought the game used, or got it from a friend. I already paid for a console, Live, accessories, internet connection, the game (in some form), and your telling me that I need to pay you another $10? Where does this stop?”
Another commenter known as Binarynova voiced his or her support of the measure on a related gamespot.com article: “I fully support features being locked-out of used games. Why? Because I think the industry is finally realizing that those poor sales they worry about so much aren’t due to piracy but used game sales. Every time you buy a used game at Gamestop and save five whole dollars, you keep the developer from being duly compensated. It’s that simple. Used game sales hurt gaming.”
Kotaku reporter Owen Good discussed the matter more in-depth in an related article and reasoned that this strategy is difficult to tackle in any single viewpoint, as many sports simulation games run their course of popularity in only a year or two, as opposed to RPG or FPS games with slower depreciation values, and thus suffer in resale values. Good also comments that EA SPORTS might have made a smart business move with the new feature.
Another blogger on Gamasutra.com named Chris Gaft points out that EA’s move isn’t terribly surprising either, and that maybe all of the bad reactions is due to the gamers “sense of entitlement.” In his post he comments: “Honestly, I can’t think of a great argument as to why the publisher shouldn’t have done this at least a year ago. Online is a key component of sports games, sports are EA’s biggest business, so why should the publisher support people who buy used games, sales from which EA doesn’t see a penny (directly, anyway)?”
Gamers will just have to wait and see how this all plays out once the first EA SPORTS game using the pass, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, releases on June 8th.
What do you guys think? Is this just another matter or price gouging or does EA have a legitimate claim here? Sound off in the comments section and let your thoughts be known!