Electronic Arts has no plans to restart its much-maligned Online Pass system following Microsoft’s reversal of the Xbox One’s drastic DRM policies, despite the fact that neither next-gen console has any inherent used game restrictions.
The Online Pass system required players who purchased used games to buy a special pass, usually $10, to play them online, thus ensuring the publisher still got a cut from those sales. EA eliminated the program in May and quickly began removing Online Pass from existing games.
“As we said a few weeks ago, none of our new EA titles will include Online Pass, and we are removing it from existing games as well,” EA senior director of corporate communications John Reseburg told Polygon. “Nothing else on today’s news, but did want to be clear that our online pass decision was based on player feedback, and there’s no change.”
When EA killed the Online Pass in May, it was said to be a response to player feedback, but many assumed that next-gen consoles’ DRM policies had simply eliminated the need for the system. Now we know for certain than neither the PlayStation 4 nor the Xbox One carry the sort of restrictive policies that might replace publisher-curated Online Pass barriers.
Third-parties still have the option of enforcing their own DRM on the two platforms, and some fear that EA and others will revive Online Pass-like systems in the next-gen. Sony believes that they probably won’t, and EA’s assurances that Online Pass is really dead can be read as a good sign.