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EA: No consumer backlash to Online Pass

"People realise bandwidth isn't free."

EA's controversial Online Pass scheme has gone down well with consumers, the US giant's insisted.

"The reception of the program has been positive," claimed EA chief financial officer Eric Brown, at the Deutsche Bank 2010 Technology Conference in San Francisco last night.

"We thought about [Online Pass] pretty carefully and there hasn't been any significant push-back from the consumer, because I think people realise that if you're buying a physical disc and it requires an attachment to someone else's network and servers, [those] people realise bandwidth isn't free.

"So the fact that we're diffusing or covering online costs is not viewed to be unreasonable. We're well into this program and there is no consumer backlash."

Launched earlier this year, the scheme asks consumers purchasing used games to spend an additional $10 to access the online portion of some of EA's sports titles.

All new copies of the relevant games ship with a single-use code allowing users to access this for free, but lock that access to the user's console.

Brown also estimated that used games now make up 20 per cent of all game sales, with an obvious adverse effect on publishers, who see no return from the purchases.

In May, Ubisoft CFO Alain Martinez announced plans during a financial conference call to launch a similar scheme. "Most of the games we are releasing next year will have from the start downloadable content available, and we are looking very carefully at what is happening with EA regarding what we are calling the $10 solution, and will probably be following that line sometime in the future."

Brown's comments echo those made by EA Sports president Peter Moore to Eurogamer yesterday. "We're not seeing huge business yet, because it's early, but there are people paying their $10 and enjoying Online Pass and getting the content they want," he said.