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EA set unprecidented move, gamers to suffer

It was a matter of time some would say that game publishers would start shunning pre-owned games buyers, rather than pushing for legislation to force retailers to donate a share of their profits back to the gaming sector, EA have immediately taken the easy option of punishing the very people that made them the industry powerhouses they are today. In some ways I was a little surprised that Bobby Kotick wasn’t behind this move, as it had the trademarks of a typical snake oil salesman move. So, to sum it up, in future EA Sports titles (and no doubt the rest of its product range) you will have to enter a code to activate the online component of the game, if you decide to trade the game in, or sell it the new owner of the game will have to log on to the EA Sports website and purchase a new license to play the game online.

“EA today introduced Online Pass content from EA SPORTS. Online Pass rewards game owners with a game-specific, one-time-use registration code for online services, features and bonus content. Each title-specific Online Pass may be used with upcoming releases of EA SPORTS simulation games on PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and Xbox 360 videogame and entertainment system, beginning next month with Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 11. The one-time Online Pass registration code comes included with each unit sold new at retail. Once redeemed, additional Online Passes will be available for $10. Fans also may sign up for a free 7-day trial to experience Online Pass. International pricing will be announced within territories in the near future.”

This move is complete bullshit, where has been the collective move by industry giants to push for re-sale royalties? There simply hasn’t been one. This issue will no doubt spring further controversy for when issues arise at game retailers whom will no doubt stock these used games without making it clear that the online components are rendered useless. EA had a perfect model in their Burnout Paradise title, they provided free and paid DLC to give players the incentive to keep the game and not trade it in. Epic used a similarly clever model when bundling maps for new purchases of Gears of War 2. Whilst I appreciate that pre-owned vendors shouldn’t make half the money they make off selling a pre-owned title, is the pre-owned market seriously hurting companies to the degree that it’s suffering huge losses because of it? No. It appears as though what we have here is another digital money spinner, to be charged an extra for something we never had to before. You also have to question whether this move has also been put in place as an excuse to kill servers of the previous iteration of the game year on year. What will happen to existing servers from EA’s sports libraries?

“This is an important inflection point in our business because it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhance premium online services to the entire robust EA SPORTS online community,” said Peter Moore, President of EA SPORTS.”

Peter Moore’s above statement doesn’t have any relevance to the move whatsoever. The press release in its entirety doesn’t even brush upon the real reason behind this move. EA have acted like government spin doctors when the real issue is that they are screwing with their loyal fan base. Perhaps the biggest disappointment in all of this is the fact that, now EA has done it expect to see everyone else follow suit. EA will bear the brunt of criticism whilst other publishers will slip through the net unscathed. What is going to happen next? Will movie publishers start to prevent users from selling pre-owned films? Will blu-ray features be disabled if used in a different manufacturers DVD player? What happens if you want to take your favorite EA game over to your mates house for the evening and take to the competition online? Oh, you can’t, not unless you want him/her to have access to your purchase library or Xbox Live profile. The online move almost feels draconian in its nature, taking away consumers rights in the process. If we’ve purchased something of a physical format, we should have the right to sell it as we please. The announcement is most certainly a sad day for gaming and another step forward to a digital only future.

If anyone should be especially annoyed by this, it should be Xbox Live players, whom already have to pay for the privilege of playing games online. Ridiculous, especially considering the sports titles offer nothing more but paltry gameplay improvements, updated rosters and a game mode they add and remove each year.

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