Many avid gamers know that used games can be one of the true bargains of the console world. Maybe you weren’t excited enough about a title to give it a try at full retail price, but at a significant discounts, you might be willing to buy a used game to taste a franchise and see if its anything you like. Well, starting in June, EA Sports is going to start looking for money from folks who buy used games: starting with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, sports fans will have to buy a $10 Online Pass directly from Electronic Arts if they want to tap into online play capabilities of used games.
When players take their EA Sports game online fir the first time, they’ll be prompted for an Online Pass access code. For buyers who have the full retail version of the game, that code will be on the back of the manual included with the game. For folks who don’t have the full retail packaging—i.e., anyone who bought a used game—they’ll be able to purchase a new Online Pass from EA for $10.
If the game’s original buyer did not activate their Online Pass and transfers the original code to a new owner, the original Online Pass code will work for the new owner. The Online Pass validations are stored with user’s Xbox 360 Gamer Tag or PlayStation 3 persona, so if a user’s console is damaged or stolen they won’t lose their Online Passes so long as they can log into their accounts. One Online Pass will provide access for multiple users logged into the console where the Online Pass was first activated however: players do not need to purchase separate online passes for every user on their consoles.
If used game buyers don’t want to purchase an Online Pass, they’ll still be able to use all the offline content of a used game, so it’s not as if entire titles will become disabled. But with EA Sports titles, online and multiplayer online play are one of the games’ chief attractions.
EA Sports is remarkably clear about why it’s instituting these online passes for used games: it’s all about money. When a player buys a users game, EA is not seeing any revenue from the sale—never mind that they received income from the original sale of the game. “We actually view the second sale market as an opportunity to develop a direct relationship with our consumers, and with Online Pass everyone has access to the same premium online services and content regardless of how and where you buy the game,” wrote EA Sports senior VP Andrew Wilson in the service’s FAQ. “We want to reserve EA Sports online services for people who pay EA to access them.”