EA is going to discontinue its Online Pass requirement to access certain features in its future releases.
"We're discontinuing Online Pass," EA senior director of corporate communications John Reseburg confirmed to VentureBeat. "None of our new EA titles will include that feature."
The Online Pass was a heavily derided system in which players would have to pay an additional fee in order to access certain online components like multiplayer. It also meant that if someone purchased a game second-hand or, god-forbid, wanted to share a game with their family or friends, they'd have to purchase a separate online pass for each user. As expected, consumers did not take kindly to this.
"Initially launched as an effort to package a full menu of online content and services, many players didn't respond to the format," Reseburg told VentureBeat. "We've listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward."
Of course, games that already use the Online Pass system will continue to do so. Resenburg is only talking about upcoming titles like Battlefield 4.
Resenberg added, "We're still committed to creating content and services that enhance the game experience well beyond the day you first start playing," Thus, it remains to be seen how EA will recoup its loss on these and one suspects microtransactions and/or more expensive DLC could present themselves. Or perhaps EA is banking on this goodwill to bring more buyers to these games in the first place, so it won't need these extra fees. We've followed up with EA for comment and will update as we hear back.
Online Passes still remain common practice elsewhere and now that EA is phasing them out, one wonders if publishers like Activision, Ubisoft and Warner Bros. will follow suit.