EA Sports President Peter Moore says most gamers actually support bonus DLC programs like Online Pass because they recognize how damaging the used game trade really is.
Online Pass is the EA Sports-flavored version of Project Ten Dollar, which offers free bonus content with new copies of videogames but charges for access with pre-owned copies. But it's taken heat for including online multiplayer action, which is typically viewed as a core gameplay component, as "bonus" content. Moore, however, says that making players see the value of online play is an important part of extending the lifespan of games; roughly 350,000 people have logged in to Madden NFL once and never returned, and that's a figure he'd dearly like to change.
"One thing I have to do, and it's my job, and my development team's job, and my marketing team's job, is make you not want to trade the game in," he told Kotaku. "From our perspective, [it's] conditioning you to punch a code in, to get you going, get some digital content, and conditioning you to look at digital content as a value-add to the game experience itself."
He also pointed out that providing support for online play is an expensive proposition, adding, "It's not something I want to focus on, but it's still a factor that the cost of a million people playing Madden 10 online is not inconsequential."
But Moore also believes that in spite of some vocal opposition to Online Pass, most gamers get it. "I read everything you write, and then I read everything that they write about what you write underneath, and I will say you have the overwhelming majority of people that are buying new," he said. "And those guys are actually vocal - this is me just saying what I read - against people who buy used. They recognize the business model implications of new versus used. Whilst I'm not sure they're angry, they absolutely look at what's going on in the marketplace and understand totally what it is we're doing."
It's a tricky line to walk: I thought the Project Ten Dollar approach in Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2 was fantastic, but Online Pass does feel a bit like EA has switched from rewarding good behavior to punishing bad. Is EA Sports going too far?