EA Ditches Online Pass Fees For Select Xbox 360 Titles [UPDATE]

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EA Ditches Online Pass Fees For Select Xbox 360 Titles [UPDATE]

Bulletstorm promotional artwork

Taking a step back from its usual stance on charging for online functionality, megapublisher EA has reduced the cost of online passes for a number of its older titles to $0.

Publishers have long been seeking a way to ensure that they make a profit on every game sold, whether that sale be of a new title or if the game being purchased is a pre-owned copy. EA's solution has been to institute online passes for many of its games. If you buy an EA game new, you simply find the code within the game's packaging, punch it into your console of choice and you're able to play online. Buy it used however, and the code has most likely already been redeemed, forcing players to shell out an additional $10 for a new online pass.

At least, that was the case until recently. This morning it was discovered that EA has seemingly been removing this cost from a handful of its Xbox 360 titles. Take a look at a full list of the items that are suddenly gratis, courtesy NeoGAF user "Vert Boil:"

Alice: Madness Returns - American McGee's Alice (The first game in the Alice series, access it through the disc, was 800msp)

Bad Company 2 VIP (was 800msp)

Bulletstorm Online Pass (was 800msp)

Dragon Age: Origins - The Stone Prisoner (was 1200msp)

Dragon Age 2: The Black Emporium (was 800msp)

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Online Pass (was 800msp)

Mass Effect 2: Cerberus Network (was 1200msp)

Medal of Honor Online Pass (was 800msp)

SHIFT 2 UNLEASHED™ ONLINE PASS (was 800msp)

Skate 3: Skate Share Pack (was 800msp)

In short, if you were to visit the Xbox Live Arcade page for any of the above titles/DLC offerings, you'd find their retail price listed as "free." Why this is suddenly the case is a mystery. We've attempted to contact EA about the matter, but weren't even offered the usual "no comment." Instead, we actually received no comment from the firm, which is oddly stoic and only serves to make us even more curious as to why EA has seemingly had this sudden change of heart as far as online passes are concerned.

Of course, it's entirely possible that this is merely a mistake on someone's behalf. That would explain why it only applies to the Xbox 360 versions of these games, and why the list of titles has been seemingly cobbled together at random. Other than being published by EA, the above games have precious little in common, and no link to suggest why they might suddenly feature zero dollar price tags for online gameplay.

Hopefully EA will get back to us shortly (we'll update this piece with anything we hear), or failing that, explain its new stance publicly in short order. This is very uncharacteristic of the publisher, but if it signals a sea change in how EA handles online functionality we'll be the first to applaud the move.

Source: NeoGAF

Update: Massive thanks to reader FizzyIzze who points out a new (as in, "this didn't exist an hour ago") addition to EA's website, which explains the situation. Apparently EA is completely dropping the Online Pass initiative for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 titles. You can find full details here.

Permalink

-Undoes the cancellation of Medal of Honor; states it will not rush another one and will only publish one when it is ready.
-Gets rid of Always-On
-Hasn't done stupid campaigns to promote games (I'm looking at you, Dead Space commercials.)
-Attempts to fix the botched launch of Sims
-Gets rid of Online Passes

Everyone will still complain about EA because gamers recently have become inconsistent whiners who can never be satisfied.
"It's unforgivable"
So EA will forever burn as the most hated company. Because.

EDIT: I'd hate Gamestop over EA any day. And everyday.

... Meh?

I've already purchased everything there I'd care about, and I've no interest in Skate or BC2, so while it's cool if it's deliberate (And nice karma if accidental), I'm not interested.

EA has told Eurogamer it is in the process of eliminating Online Pass from all its existing titles.

"As we discontinue Online Pass for our new EA titles, we are also in the process of eliminating it from all our existing EA titles as well," a spokesperson said. "We heard the feedback from players and decided to do away with Online Pass altogether.

"Players will see it first with some EA Sports titles, where a prompt to enter an Online Pass code will no longer appear in-game; with other titles we are simply making Online Passes available free of charge online.

"These are rolling updates that are taking effect over the next several weeks. We hope players continue to enjoy our games and online services for a long time to come."

Sauce: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-05-30-ea-makes-some-online-pass-content-free-on-xbox-marketplace

So Yeah, I still don't trust EA any further then I can throw them but it is nice to hear some good news regarding EA.
Most defiantly a step in the right direction.

Lur-King:

EDIT: I'd hate Gamestop over EA any day. And everyday.

Can you personally explain to me this hate of GS? It does not seem that bad and I got the opportunity to purchase Fatal Frame 1,2 and 3 for about 30 dollars. The staff tried to push a subscription or something, but stopped after I said "no thank you". What did they do to you?

EA, on the other hand, consistently uses practices that necessitate the creation and use of databases such as this:

http://www.drmdatabase.net/database

EDIT: Probably closer to 40, but still a good deal.

No Battlefield 3? I'll pass.

Lur-King:
-Undoes the cancellation of Medal of Honor; states it will not rush another one and will only publish one when it is ready.
-Gets rid of Always-On
-Hasn't done stupid campaigns to promote games (I'm looking at you, Dead Space commercials.)
-Attempts to fix the botched launch of Sims
-Gets rid of Online Passes

Everyone will still complain about EA because gamers recently have become inconsistent whiners who can never be satisfied.
"It's unforgivable"
So EA will forever burn as the most hated company. Because.

EDIT: I'd hate Gamestop over EA any day. And everyday.

It's a start. They still have a long way to go to fix themselves in many other areas, and could easily slip back on many of these promises, which are still in early days.

Wow, I'm kinda amazed that EA is actually making steps towards repairing their relationship with customers. Maybe the new CEO finally got their head out of their ass.

I'm far from convinced this is actually a cancellation of "Online Pass" and more a cancellation of everything named "Online Pass", but maybe they really are doing away with the ridiculous and broken system just as Microsoft stands poised to attempt to destroy the used game market.

Huh, when they cancelled the initiative I assumed it was only for upcoming titles, this is really good of them.

Jman1236:
No Battlefield 3? I'll pass.

It looks like they're going to do it for all of their titles. They're appeasing their sports fans first and will work through their library. I'm willing to bet that Battlefield is high on their list.

I doubt there will be any sort of notices on console or PC so maybe once a week I would just check the respective online stores to see if the Online Pass has been changed to a cost of $0.



-Edit- I just called a Gamestop and they haven't heard of anything from corporate yet, so things are moving fast. On the other hand, I had completely forgotten that other companies like Ubisoft and Activision had their own versions of Online Pass. I wonder what their next moves will be.

This attempt at being more consumer friendly for EA is probably due to John Ricciteilo's leaving, if that's the case EA can only get better in that sense, however Microsoft are adopting their old/current way of operating it seems and so negates what ever progress they seem to be making.

CrossLOPER:
snip

It's interesting about retailers that sell online passes. I wonder if Gamestop will actively tell their customers that the Online Pass is dead. I mean, what the hell are they supposed to do with those cards they have in stores and sell online? Don't other retailers also sell these things?

o_O

EA...are you...are you alright?
Not that i'm complaining, but...I just have this strange feeling...It's....not hate. What's the name of that feeling again?

Lur-King:
-Undoes the cancellation of Medal of Honor; states it will not rush another one and will only publish one when it is ready.
-Gets rid of Always-On
-Hasn't done stupid campaigns to promote games (I'm looking at you, Dead Space commercials.)
-Attempts to fix the botched launch of Sims
-Gets rid of Online Passes

Everyone will still complain about EA because gamers recently have become inconsistent whiners who can never be satisfied.
"It's unforgivable"
So EA will forever burn as the most hated company. Because.

EDIT: I'd hate Gamestop over EA any day. And everyday.

-implying that they will keep their word and not rush games
-Where? IIRC SimCity still requires always-online
-while their PR are lying as much as they can
-HAHAHAHA, no. Fixing Sims would require removing the always online drm and they said they won't do that
-Because the Xbone and PS4 have integrated ways of preventing used games. The point of the online pass was to force people who bought games used to pay some extra. They ditched it because they have no use for it anymore. It's now a part of the console. Now EVERY game on the Xbone has an online pass.

EA isn't the devil to me, but I just avoided their titles out of having other choices that didn't include online passes and such. If they go back to Electronic "Arts" and the games are good, I'll probably start buying again.

CrossLOPER:

Lur-King:

EDIT: I'd hate Gamestop over EA any day. And everyday.

Can you personally explain to me this hate of GS? It does not seem that bad and I got the opportunity to purchase Fatal Frame 1,2 and 3 for about 30 dollars. The staff tried to push a subscription or something, but stopped after I said "no thank you". What did they do to you?

EA, on the other hand, consistently uses practices that necessitate the creation and use of databases such as this:

http://www.drmdatabase.net/database

EDIT: Probably closer to 40, but still a good deal.

Why would you support gamestop? They're not there to make your gaming experience any better. They've got such a stranglehold on the industry, that it forces the publishers to come up with new waus to get cash. Why do you think new games on steam still cost full price compared to retail? It's because gamestop threatens publishers that they won't stock their games if they sell for cheaper somewhere else. And also retail-exclusive content. Biggest villain for that bullshit would be gamestop, too. Fuck gamestop.

rasputin0009:

CrossLOPER:

Lur-King:

EDIT: I'd hate Gamestop over EA any day. And everyday.

Can you personally explain to me this hate of GS? It does not seem that bad and I got the opportunity to purchase Fatal Frame 1,2 and 3 for about 30 dollars. The staff tried to push a subscription or something, but stopped after I said "no thank you". What did they do to you?

EA, on the other hand, consistently uses practices that necessitate the creation and use of databases such as this:

http://www.drmdatabase.net/database

EDIT: Probably closer to 40, but still a good deal.

Why would you support gamestop? They're not there to make your gaming experience any better. They've got such a stranglehold on the industry, that it forces the publishers to come up with new waus to get cash. Why do you think new games on steam still cost full price compared to retail? It's because gamestop threatens publishers that they won't stock their games if they sell for cheaper somewhere else. And also retail-exclusive content. Biggest villain for that bullshit would be gamestop, too. Fuck gamestop.

You're funny. You actually believe that GS can force publisher.
Games on Steam are full price because they can sell them at full price and earn more. If we magically remove GS, games would still be full price and maybe even worse. The Full price could increase because there is no competition with used games.

There is absolutely nothing that GS can do to force publisher to sell PC games at full price on Steam because GS hardly has any PC games. They can't say "We decrease the size of the PC game shelf" because there hardly is any shelf.
And they have no reason to threaten to decrease the shelf size of console games because Steam isn't competing with GS. So high sales on Steam wouldn't impact GS.

The "GS forces publisher to make DLC and increase prices" is a bullshit PR move from big publisher. GS is just a scapegoat, same as pirates and second hand sales. The big publisher make bad games and they will blame everyone that their 4 hour long, $60 game sold badly.

Publisher can live without GS. GS can't live without publisher. Anyone telling you otherwise is delusional.
Sure, GS can do some damage to the publisher, but at what cost? Going under? I can hardly see a capitalistic company going under for principle.

Well guess I can finally play my copy of FIFA 13 online since I lost the original code and wouldn't pay 10 bucks for another one.

The really sad thing is that it's because for whatever reason the code is asked for over and over again. Not like it should have been enough for me to input it once. The next time I booted the game up it asked for the code again and my brother had misplaced it.

BiH-Kira:

Lur-King:
-Undoes the cancellation of Medal of Honor; states it will not rush another one and will only publish one when it is ready.
-Gets rid of Always-On
-Hasn't done stupid campaigns to promote games (I'm looking at you, Dead Space commercials.)
-Attempts to fix the botched launch of Sims
-Gets rid of Online Passes

Everyone will still complain about EA because gamers recently have become inconsistent whiners who can never be satisfied.
"It's unforgivable"
So EA will forever burn as the most hated company. Because.

EDIT: I'd hate Gamestop over EA any day. And everyday.

-implying that they will keep their word and not rush games
-Where? IIRC SimCity still requires always-online
-while their PR are lying as much as they can
-HAHAHAHA, no. Fixing Sims would require removing the always online drm and they said they won't do that
-Because the Xbone and PS4 have integrated ways of preventing used games. The point of the online pass was to force people who bought games used to pay some extra. They ditched it because they have no use for it anymore. It's now a part of the console. Now EVERY game on the Xbone has an online pass.

1) The instant distrust of EA is my point. Regardless of effort, your insta-hatred is nothing more than a bandwagon at this point.
2) SimCity still requires Always-On, yes. EA stated they would not add it to future games they publish, thereby eradicating it from future titles. Past ones are not cleared yet.
3) Since the new CEO has taken place, what PR scandal can you quote for me.
4) Always-On isn't breaking the game. People already have ways around it and methods to circumvent it. Players who are however stuck in its grasp are not genuinely harmed by this. The laggy and bogged servers, yes. That ruined the game. The recent patches and updates however have attempted to address this. You are just blowing smoke out of your Hate-Cannon now. I get it, you don't like Always-On. Try elaborating more than your single argument.
5) Yes, this may be true. However that is not EA's fault in the matter as it is Sony and Microsoft's decision to do so to their consoles. What you seem to have missed however is that the games they removed the Online Pass from are games that already are released and you can now play without online passes.

Hate is a wonderful thing; it narrows your vision and bogs down an argument.

CrossLOPER:

Lur-King:

EDIT: I'd hate Gamestop over EA any day. And everyday.

Can you personally explain to me this hate of GS? It does not seem that bad and I got the opportunity to purchase Fatal Frame 1,2 and 3 for about 30 dollars. The staff tried to push a subscription or something, but stopped after I said "no thank you". What did they do to you?

Besides my personal experiences there with bad copies of games, if you keep an eye on the escapist news feed you can see the things that go on with this franchise.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/112563-GameStop-Pulls-OnLive-Coupons-From-Deus-Ex-Human-Revolution
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_273/8145-Confessions-of-a-GameStop-Employee-Part-One
These two as an example for you; the second link being a Four Part Series. I highly recommend giving it a read.

Also if you are curious, no; my personal experiences with them was not bad enough to give a bias. I bought a new copy of Skyrim and the online CD key was botched, and once they sold me a scratched beyond repair Need for Speed game. But otherwise the employees and service was great; along with those prices. The practices and methods in which these are provided however disappoint me.

Re: Also I just checked a promotion they are doing: Trade in 7 Games for 35 Dollars. That just doesn't seem right to me.

This is nice, but Online Pass' death irrelevant for future games really. Microsoft are implementing it at a hardware level for the Xbone and Sony are rumoured among the rumour mill to have something similar in mind.

Good for BC2 players and Zaeed hold outs, but not so much for the rest of us.

BiH-Kira:

rasputin0009:

CrossLOPER:

Can you personally explain to me this hate of GS? It does not seem that bad and I got the opportunity to purchase Fatal Frame 1,2 and 3 for about 30 dollars. The staff tried to push a subscription or something, but stopped after I said "no thank you". What did they do to you?

EA, on the other hand, consistently uses practices that necessitate the creation and use of databases such as this:

http://www.drmdatabase.net/database

EDIT: Probably closer to 40, but still a good deal.

Why would you support gamestop? They're not there to make your gaming experience any better. They've got such a stranglehold on the industry, that it forces the publishers to come up with new waus to get cash. Why do you think new games on steam still cost full price compared to retail? It's because gamestop threatens publishers that they won't stock their games if they sell for cheaper somewhere else. And also retail-exclusive content. Biggest villain for that bullshit would be gamestop, too. Fuck gamestop.

You're funny. You actually believe that GS can force publisher.
Games on Steam are full price because they can sell them at full price and earn more. If we magically remove GS, games would still be full price and maybe even worse. The Full price could increase because there is no competition with used games.

There is absolutely nothing that GS can do to force publisher to sell PC games at full price on Steam because GS hardly has any PC games. They can't say "We decrease the size of the PC game shelf" because there hardly is any shelf.
And they have no reason to threaten to decrease the shelf size of console games because Steam isn't competing with GS. So high sales on Steam wouldn't impact GS.

The "GS forces publisher to make DLC and increase prices" is a bullshit PR move from big publisher. GS is just a scapegoat, same as pirates and second hand sales. The big publisher make bad games and they will blame everyone that their 4 hour long, $60 game sold badly.

Publisher can live without GS. GS can't live without publisher. Anyone telling you otherwise is delusional.
Sure, GS can do some damage to the publisher, but at what cost? Going under? I can hardly see a capitalistic company going under for principle.

I'm assuming you don't primarily speak English so I'll ignore that you gave me a headache with that terrible grammar.

So you think that GS has no control? Don't they have somewhere close to 50% of the retail market for games? So if they told a publisher that they'll stop selling their games, the publishers wouldn't notice a 50% loss in sales? Gamestop has a lot of publishers to choose from and a huge market share to throw around. They have a lot of control.

And yet somehow I smell a rat. After all, it's EA.
I see people speaking of "evil" retailers, all I will say is that I don't care which pedophile burglar is worse.

FizzyIzze:

I wonder if Gamestop will actively tell their customers that the Online Pass is dead.

I saw a copy of Dungeons and Dragons Online for sale in my local Gamestop a year after it went free to play, so my initial guess would be no. But one way or another, it will probably be a decision made by someone way up the ladder. I have a feeling nothing will change until word comes down from managment.

Thank you EA.

Lur-King:
-Undoes the cancellation of Medal of Honor; states it will not rush another one and will only publish one when it is ready.
-Gets rid of Always-On
-Hasn't done stupid campaigns to promote games (I'm looking at you, Dead Space commercials.)
-Attempts to fix the botched launch of Sims
-Gets rid of Online Passes

Everyone will still complain about EA because gamers recently have become inconsistent whiners who can never be satisfied.
"It's unforgivable"
So EA will forever burn as the most hated company. Because.

EDIT: I'd hate Gamestop over EA any day. And everyday.

You can't just screw over dozens of studios, millions of customers, a bunch of well loved franchises, and expect people to let their guard down the moment you claim you are doing something good. A lot of people were screwed over by EA. Consumers and Devs alike.
For them to do something so...not EA calls for alarm.
No one is complaining yet. However we have a very good reason to be wary of this new development. A couple of good things, could turn out to be hiding even worse scenarios.

PBMcNair:

FizzyIzze:

snip

I saw a copy of Dungeons and Dragons Online for sale in my local Gamestop a year after it went free to play, so my initial guess would be no. But one way or another, it will probably be a decision made by someone way up the ladder. I have a feeling nothing will change until word comes down from managment.

Odd, a quick search shows news of the end of Online Passes two weeks ago but today was the final nail in the coffin. Considering that Gamestop still has listings for Online Passes on their website, and when I called a local GS the employee told me they were still selling them...

Something strange is going on between EA and GS. Probably like a colossal 'Screw You', passive-aggressive corporate pissing contest.

Even in the UK, Game still lists EA Online Passes.

still suspicious of them

will wait for next gen news...

maybe this is the policy of the new guy in charge?

I can now get Zaeed for free, so I am not complaining. I never thought I'd actually say this anytime soon, but thank you EA.

Lur-King:
-Undoes the cancellation of Medal of Honor; states it will not rush another one and will only publish one when it is ready.
-Gets rid of Always-On
-Hasn't done stupid campaigns to promote games (I'm looking at you, Dead Space commercials.)
-Attempts to fix the botched launch of Sims
-Gets rid of Online Passes

Everyone will still complain about EA because gamers recently have become inconsistent whiners who can never be satisfied.
"It's unforgivable"
So EA will forever burn as the most hated company. Because.

EDIT: I'd hate Gamestop over EA any day. And everyday.

If they make sure that games don't require an online mode (I'm looking at you Simcity) and allows offline for the times that servers are down/whatever the reason, then I will happily buy another EA PC game, but atm that has only put them back on the console list of "will buy - but not at full price" for the forseeable future.

EA still has a long way to go with me, but this is a good start. I've even begun to hold out hope the latest EA news story is a positive one, vice the reflex, "Ugh, what has EA done now??" response.

Seems a bit stink for those people that would have purchased them, but hey, it's something.

They still have a long way to go before most people trust them, but perhaps this is to do with their old CEO being gone, maybe the new one wants to try be a little more friendly.

Fair play EA well done. Fingers crossed for DA3!

Oh, yeah, no, this is awesome.

Except the part where it's still an online pass. Last I checked, my TV is still too "in another room" from the router for me to have access to any of that extra content, even if it is free.

When I read this I got the "calm before the storm" feeling instead of "great relief".
I'm tentative about it. This could be a prelude to something glorious from EA or something horrible.

Looks like item #1 on the new CEOs to do list was "Make sure we're not voted worst company in America for the 3rd year in a row."

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