EA abandoning online passes. No, really.
Did EA just do something nice? Did we all just fall into an alternate reality? The answer to the first question is yes. The answer to the second question is maybe, because all those online passes EA was forcing on us are disappearing. Seriously. Read on for the details.
It’s no secret that EA has been quietly moving toward discontinuing their online pass program. The wildly unpopular one-time-use codes came with most new EA games, and forced players to register their games with EA before they could access online content. Even worse, the codes would have to be purchased by anyone who bought the game used, reducing the cost effectiveness of buying pre-owned games. Kinda evil, right?
Well, you can drop the pitchforks. Not only is EA no longer including the online pass in any of their new releases, they’re retroactively going back into their catalogue, and deactivating all the passes they once required. In a FAQ posted on the official EA help site, they explained that all online passes would either be eliminated, or reduced in price to zero. All DLC that before could only be accessed with an online pass is now free of charge as well. For example, Dragon Age Origins: The Stone Prisoner and the Mass Effect 2 Cerberus network, which until yesterday were 1200 MS points each, are now free. EA says that this process will take weeks, and will not be able to reimburse anyone might unknowingly purchase an online pass which hasn’t been deactivated yet.
Why did they do this, you ask? According to the FAQ…
We listened to the feedback from players, and decided to do away with Online Pass. We hope that eliminating Online Pass will allow more people to play and enjoy EA games for a long time to come.
That’s sweet, buuuuut… do we believe them? The cynic in me will say that EA is only doing this because they’re at the tail end of the current console cycle, and there is likely little profit left to be made with the online pass program. The next generation of consoles, with their one-time-use discs, won’t need online passes to lock games to a single account. Still, free DLC is free DLC, and the Xbox 360 and PS3 will likely be hanging around for years to come. So hate all you want on EA. But just this once, let’s take them at their word. Just this once, they listened.