Video game publisher Electronic Arts has revealed that it will be dropping its Online Pass program from all of its new games going forward. EA’s John Reseburg confirmed the change in an email to GamesBeat, saying, “Yes, we’re discontinuing Online Pass. None of our new titles will include that feature.”
For the uninitiated, the online pass is a form of DRM that typically restricts the online functionality of games that are bought and used. It most often comes in the form of a single-use code that players have to purchase in order to enable multiplayer content. The idea is to ensure the creators of a given game get their cut of every copy sold – retailers like GameStop typically receive all revenue from second-hand sales — but consumers have largely derided the system since its inception.
It’s this consumer response that has caused EA to change its course, according to Reseburg. He notes that “many players didn’t respond to the format,” and states that EA has “listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward” as a result.
The last several months have been a messy time for EA in terms of public relations. Games like Mass Effect 3 and Dead Space 3 have been met with backlash from hardcore fans, the launch of the always-on SimCity was riddled with server and connection issues, and the company laid off hundreds of its staff just last month. Longtime CEO John Riccitiello resigned from his position in March, and in April the publisher was voted “Worst Company in America” in an annual Consumerist poll for the second consecutive year.
Nixing online passes should help EA rebuild some of its broken image in the eyes of hardcore gamers, though, especially since other publishers like Ubisoft and Sony Computer Entertainment still make use of the concept. Notable upcoming titles for the company include Madden NFL 25, Battlefield 4 and The Sims 4.