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Project Ten Dollar "improves experience"

EA UK boss denies it's about second-hand.

Electronic Arts' UK general manager Keith Ramsdale has claimed that 'Project Ten Dollar' is about enhancing the value of EA games, and not an attempt to upset second-hand sales and illegal downloads.

Under the internal EA policy reportedly introduced last autumn, games are distributed with a redeemable code that allows the buyer to unlock extra content equivalent to $10 in value.

As the content is bound to the redeemer's PC, PS3 or Xbox 360 account, it's useless to any future owner of the game. The idea is that anybody else who wishes to access that content can do so by paying $10 or similar through their platform's premium content channels.

While Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins both opted for extra downloadable content to fill out the $10 value, the scheme came under fire recently when EA Sports revealed that a bundled code would now be needed to access multiplayer components in the likes of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11.

But despite the widespread perception that Project Ten Dollar is designed to reduce the value of second-hand games - from which publishers make no money - Ramsdale denied this in a recent interview with MCV.

"It's all about the customer, about improving their experience," he claimed. "It's not a defensive measure against pre-owned or piracy."

Some, including Eurogamer columnist Rob Fahey, have argued that the sticking point with EA Sports' approach is that it shifts the company away from adding value to the core game - as its redeemable codes did for Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age - and toward reducing second-hand value, as it does with EA Sports titles.

Ramsdale either wasn't asked to or chose not to elaborate, but in a year that's already seen EA pick up some of its highest scores ever - notably for Mass Effect 2, which even we gave 10/10 - it's clear that he recognises the value of the kind of multiplayer options to which EA Sports is restricting access.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2, for example. "The press reaction has been focused largely on how good the multiplayer is," Ramsdale acknowledged. "It's now recognised as genre defining, and the way the market's going, that's key."

The EA boss also talked about the gap that Battlefield - along with Medal of Honor - will have to bridge to its biggest competitor, Activision's Call of Duty series.

"Are we going to beat Modern Warfare sales this year with any single title? No. But do we have a long-term goal of taking more market share or possibly growing the market? Yes," he said.