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EA to charge for online gaming

This just in via the corporations fighting back against the wee gamer news department:

EA games, starting with Tiger Woods 11, will now require an subscription pass for gamers to participate in the online versions of their products. The pass will come in the case of all new games and is a one time usage code. The value of this pass is $10, yet is included in new games.

Fully extrapolated in layman's terms, If a gamer wants to play a game from the EA sports franchises, the company will now require the player to input a code to do so. If one is the original purchaser of the game, they get a code with the brand new disc. If the player gets the game secondhand, say from a used retailer or from a friend, that code doesn't transfer with the game. For the new owner to go online, a new code must be purchased, via EA, for the price of $10. EA did somewhat consider the rental market, bestowing a week of free play online before requiring a code for those gamers.

Author's Commentary:

My first thought is of my almost certain headaches that will come with a third party developer requiring additional codes for first party systems: i.e. what are the odds that EA's online extras will mesh with XBL or PSN without creating conflicts.

Second: This doesn't seem horribly unfair considering the EA vs. GameStop and other re-sellers end. From the producers side of the capitalism equation, it's not truly despicable. Why shouldn't EA, who produces the product, make the money that GameStop does. Arguably, Gamestop is just a retailer same as Best Buy, but instead of paying EA, they are giving that money back to the gamers at a lower price. I'm not saying I condone this, but I understand it.

From the consumers/gamers side, this is not a particularly fair system, especially since the most recent "used" games sell for 90% of the retail price, which means they are better off buying a new game than a new one. Or if they buy it off of Ebay or Amazon Marketplace, they have to add another $10 to their bargain shopping to experience the game. What does this ultimately mean? EA will try to undercut the profits of re-sellers and force bargain hunters to shop through channels where EA makes money, such as big box stores.

I want to ask, both to the readers and rhetorically to the gaming gods, can any good possibly come of this? What are the possible negative ramifications.

If a child of divorce has an X-box 360, Wii, or PS3 at both of his parents houses and for this case, two separate online accounts, will they be forced to buy two online codes for $10 each if they got the game used (and as a child, they most likely got the game in the form of a gift)?

If brothers have different XBL accounts, will they need to buy an additional code? I'm sure EA has some contingency plan for this; I'm just not too confident it will work.

Even if EA is planning on spending %100 of these fees on upgrading the services, I still wouldn't understand the reasoning. This reminds me of the same business model PC gamers are forced to used but in an introductory manner. Is it far-fetched to think of a market where every game is going to come with an additonal charge just to experience the whole game?

I can't understand why EA views 100 hours of gaming on one disc from one user to be different from 2 gamers using the same disc 50 hours each. Sure, EA may argue differently, that each player's average hours of gaming requires this secondary charge, but to me, that seems like a convenient use of statistics, not facts, to prove a point. EA's bottom line is going to be helped by requiring two or more people to pay to draw from the same well. It may be savvy, it may be ethical, but it just seems wrong to me.

I don't like any part of this, most of all because I feel like this is the beginning of a new trend from all companies, not just an EA exclusive.


For further reading regarding the news:

From EA http://www.easports.com/onlinepass
From Business Week: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_08/b4167064465834.htm

Find the author http://twitter.com/ineverlovedyou3 or formspring him your thoughts at http://www.formspring.me/RadioFreeDave


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