EA ditches Online Pass for future games: In-app purchases save used game market

A lot of negativity has surrounded in-app purchases of late, with many criticising the act of charging extra for additional content in mobile and console games. However, it could well have saved an area of the games market that was slowly disappearing: used and second-hand.

Electronic Arts, one of the publishers targeted by much of the ire over in-app purchasing, has confirmed that it is scrapping its Online Pass system for console games. No future EA titles will come with the Online Pass card inserted.

Online Pass was an attempt by the company - and others that followed suit - to earn extra money from the used games market. Most of its top titles came with a one-time use code that unlocked the online capabilities of a game. Once redeemed, any further users would have to pay to access the same services. It meant that those picking up a second-hand copy would have to pay an extra £10-£15 just to get online access and multiplayer; effectively bringing the cost back up to that of a new copy.

Retailers such as Game suffered dramatically by the scheme because it deterred many from buying used copies.

However, thanks to EA's success with in-app purchases, which it has admitted will be part of every title it releases, the used game market will generate plenty of extra revenue without enforcing any penalties on those who buy their games that way.

Speaking to GamesBeat, John Reseburg, EA's senior director of corporate communications, confirmed the publisher's new intentions. "Yes,we're discontinuing Online Pass," he said. "None of our new EA titles will include that feature.

"We've listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it, moving forward."

He also hinted that EA's decision was also due to the successful adoption of in-app purchasing in its games. "We're still committed to creating content and services that enhance the game experience well beyond the day you first start playing," Reseburg said.

Whether other publishers, such as Activision and Ubisoft, follow suit remains to be seen.