Electronic Arts locks out multiplayer modes on used sales

In a controversial move, Electronic Arts has made the decision to lock out multiplayer modes on used sales of its sports games. Beginning with the release of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the publisher will introduce a new Online Pass, a one-time registration code included with each brand new copy of the game. The code allows players to access "online services, features and bonus content."

Players who purchase the game used can buy an Online Pass for $10 or sign up for a free 7-day trial. The pass will be implemented for NCAA Football 11, NHL 11, Madden NFL 11, NBA 11, FIFA 11, and EA Sports MMA as well. The pass offers different features for each title, however, players will not have access to basic multiplayer features if purchased used.

"You will be unable to play multiplayer online game modes or use your downloaded content in online game modes," EA says. Online leagues, dynasty and franchise modes are also only available with the Online Pass. The break down for each title can be seen on the publisher's official website.

"This is an important inflection point in our business because it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhance premium online services to the entire robust EA SPORTS online community," said Peter Moore, President of EA SPORTS.

Despite being one the leading companies in used game sales, retailer GameStop is supporting Electronic Arts' new direction.

"GameStop is excited to partner with such a forward-thinking publisher as Electronic Arts," said Dan DeMatteo, Chief Executive Officer of GameStop Corp. "This relationship allows us to capitalize on our investments to market and sell downloadable content online, as well as through our network of stores worldwide."

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I've seen pre-owned titles much cheaper than '$5' less than the original. Sometimes you can save a fortune!

This is a terrible decision and the sole motive appears to be greed. Well, i might just stop buying their games.

as usual console gamers will lead the industry in accepting practices and loss of standards by buying these games en masse.
the ones to suffer the most will be game stores who rely on used games sales to remain solvent. and will as such affect the low budget gamers who buy used and turn in played games to feed their gaming hobby.
although gaming stores' used game prices are ridiculous. when i owned an xbox everytime i bought a new game the clerk would tell me there was a used copy for just $5 less. only bad games that don't sell well are priced any lower.
and GL finding the game you really want in a game store anyway. 90% of their selection is console games, and large fraction of wall space is devoted to hyped up big sellers or family games. last time i wanted to buy a gundam game for 360 for instance i had to hunt around across the city looking for a store that had it on the shelves.
on the other hand this will possibly encourage more console gamers to migrate to PC, since the advantages of console gaming becomes slimmer and slimmer every year. PC gamers are already cutting out the game stores and turning to online distro services such as steam and D2D.
soon consoles will be be mostly downloaded games which saves publishers on manufacturing and shipping costs and is big profit for console makers like sony and MS as they reap huge profits from overpriced small hardrives.

What if your 360 break ? Do you have to pay 10$ to play the game on your new 360 ? Do your brother have to pay 10$ to play the game on his 360 ? If you want to play the game on a friends 360 do you have to pay an extra 10$ ?

LaP said,
What if your 360 break ? Do you have to pay 10$ to play the game on your new 360 ? Do your brother have to pay 10$ to play the game on his 360 ? If you want to play the game on a friends 360 do you have to pay an extra 10$ ?

Yes, Yes and Yes!

Unless you sign in with your Account which is linked to the licence.

Deacon Brown said,
Yes, Yes and Yes!

Unless you sign in with your Account which is linked to the licence.

You'll find it's: no, depends if he has a separate live account and depends how the trial system works.

It's funny how many people are calling piracy on this when EA went right ahead and said it's to do with uses game sales killing their profits.

As if we need another reason not to buy EA games. As much as I deplore piracy it's getting easier and easier to see why people are refusing to fork over money to companies that insist on terating their customers like garbage.

Now console users get to feel what it's like to be a PC gamer. Again, this shows that DRM has 0% to do with piracy and 100% to do with preventing used sales.

protocol7 said,
Now console users get to feel what it's like to be a PC gamer. Again, this shows that DRM has 0% to do with piracy and 100% to do with preventing used sales.

I wouldn't consider this DRM. There isn't a phone home mechanic, it's simply not allowing a feature out of the box to people who buy the game used. Now if they forced people who wanted to play the singleplayer modes to go online, then that would be a form of DRM, this however isn't.

DRM isn't necessarily about phoning home. It's about tying a game to you, the original owner. It's about preventing you from selling it on later and discouraging anyone from buying your game second-hand because of the likely loss of some or all functionality (multiplayer in this case). This was one of the major pluses that consoles had over PC games (you can't rent or buy used PC games and if you did manage to find anywhere that did sell/rent them you wouldn't be able to play multiplayer).

Granted it basically adds a $10 tax onto used console games which would still work out cheaper than buying the game new. Where it's really going to hurt is rentals, which for these titles are effectively finished now.

Edited by protocol7, May 11 2010, 1:37pm :

I used to purchase all new games from Gamestop in the past, however their price gauging on used games has turned me off and have not purchased anything from them in a couple of years minus my pre-order of Crackdown 2. I am going to go in and cancel my pre-order and get it from say Best Buy or Amazon now.

Glad I stopped buying most EA games. As much as I love Madden/NCAA etc...I can't justify $60 on last years version with a couple new features at best, and updated rosters. Its bad enough they bleed you dry for DLC already included on the disc, but moreso than used games, this essentially cripples rentals from places like gamefly.

They just keep thinking up new ways to screw people over... It seems like they come up with new ideas to cut piracy in these meetings, but stop before anyone has chance to say 'hold up, is this going to annoy anyone?'

I get the stopping piracy, but this really should have been better thought out. I mean, how hard would it be to incorporate that 'code' when it's re=sold at gamestop or whatever. LIke it would still be 14.99 (resale, but includes the code) not 14.99 + 10.00. Could they not work with distributers to sell these games? And 10.00 is a little steep to play online. So, can I buy the game minus the online for less than 10.00 new? Shame really, I think second-hand retailers (gamestop) may retaliate more so than the consumers.

Bemani Dog said,
It's really quite simple. If you don't like it, quit whining about it and just don't buy it.

So, if you really, really loved a game or game series that they decided you couldn't play unless it was brand new or you paid an extra tenner to play online, you'd not be annoyed and want to rant?

My Wife works in Game and I get discount on the new titles, so I can't really see this affecting my purchases. However, I agree with the comments that this is disgusting and punishing the legitimate game buyers.
I don't see exactly why EA are up in arms about used sales. Okay, they don't get their cut, but they've made more than enough of the inital sale have they not? I know that Game stores in the UK rely heavily on their preowned sales. They make such a profit on them, and to be honest is the main reason they have performed so well in the current financial times.

Stupid EA, trying to make money anyway possible. Tbh it's too be expected that they would try and make money off of people with usin multiplayer as a reason. I just hope this doesn't come to pc with their FPSs otherwise we are doomed to have to pay for multiplayer on pc... =/

Wow, times must be hard. Or they're just getting greedy. What was wrong with the old system? Other than the fact that it didn't rinse customers dry of their money.

This seriously should be illegal. Xbox 360 owners already pay for Xbox Live Gold so they can play online multiplayer games.

At the very least, if you're going to do this, drop the retail price of the games down to the good old £39.99 mark.

Nice going EA now you just screwed yourself. your making more than enough and you pull this junk how low can you go give your customers a break and lower the price to be very similar to the used game price then i could see your reasoning as buying new would only cost slightly more but now buying new is like paying twice the price of used,where is the value in that? we consumers want value and not goughed for the same thing.

Where do you live? Here the price of a relatively new title second hand usually isn't all that much less than a brand new copy.

As long as the make it clear on the box:

"If you bought this used, have fun playing with yourself!"

then I see no problem.

Not exactly new though, many PC games have been bound to one online account for a long while trough registration of your serial key

See nothing wrong with that. But then again, ive been buying all my stuff from steam, so its been like that always, and honestly - couldnt care less.

Wonder if Gamefly will sue. Seems kind of jacked, since its not just used sales but rentals as well. I've rented games just to play a few rounds of coop with friends before =/ Never beat the game or anything, just wanted a little online fun with friends far away.

The thing is that this will have no negative effect on their sales and if anything, a very positive one. When the game is bought brand new, it is the only time EA gets any money out of it. You are purchasing offline game play as well as online. The second you resell the game, someone else who didn't pay for that online time gets to use it for free making EA take the hit on bandwidth usage on their servers which isn't free. While I think it is a low blow for consumers and don't really like, from a company stand point, good way to cut back on online server usage to save money.

Honestly, I don't see a problem with what they're doing, and here's why:

Resale companies like GameStop are gouging people. They're charging more for used copies than new in many cases, and they keep marking used copies up even higher thus making more profit. When EA charges $10 for an online code for a used copy, they're forcing the consumer (us) to just shell out the extra $5 at the outset to get what features the user expects. By charging the extra $10, used copy purchasers will be faced with a dilemma: do they return the game and buy a new copy for $5 less than what they would've ended up paying, or they just say "F it" and pay the price?

This is, in the end, going to hurt GameStop more than EA. Yes, GameStop's CEO claimed that he saw this as a great opportunity to rake in more funds, but when people get ****ed about the resale prices being equal to, if not higher than, retail copies then the end user will stop buying said used copies, the price will plummet and then they will come into accordance with how the world should work. It's supply and demand, people. If you don't like it, then don't buy used games.

EA has already done this with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Mass Effect 2 and no one is crying about that, either.

What's to stop gamestop to "adj" the price to compensate?
Also, This is a step up from what they did with Mass Effects 2.

Edited by etempest, May 11 2010, 9:13am :

In my opinion, a better way to go about this is to drop the price to $49.99 and then charge $10 after the 7-day trial period for those want multiplayer. I'll be honest, with EA Sports games, I never play them online (save for Tiger Woods because of the daily and weekly competitions).

They already do this with many PC games such as Command & Conquer. You have to register your game and login to that account to play online.
But WTF does GameStop support them?? They get a lot of business from used games.

EA has been shooting theirselves in the foot for so long.. When will we see the bankrupt stickers........ First you can't even play games that are older anymore.. YOu always have to get the new games.. Now this? Electronic Arts who was a pioneer in Video games at the beginning is losing it all, sad very sad and now about to kill there consumer base.

Wir3Tap said,
EA has been shooting theirselves in the foot for so long.. When will we see the bankrupt stickers........

Who are you kidding? Every idiot who purchased MW2 for PC or any flavor of the map pack is already encouraging them to put out 1/2 baked BS or cut and strip features widely accepted as standard. Remember all the people in the boycott threads that turned around and bought the game, caught red handed online playing? People do not have the willpower to defend their principles, they just want instant gratification and will in the end, succumb.

thornz0 said,

Who are you kidding? Every idiot who purchased MW2 for PC or any flavor of the map pack is already encouraging them to put out 1/2 baked BS or cut and strip features widely accepted as standard. Remember all the people in the boycott threads that turned around and bought the game, caught red handed online playing? People do not have the willpower to defend their principles, they just want instant gratification and will in the end, succumb.


just to note..you do know that's Activision you're talking about and not EA?

macrosslover said,

just to note..you do know that's Activision you're talking about and not EA?

+1 Because that made me laugh so hard it hurt.

I just hope that this ends up in a positive trend. When I say positive I mean... New game sales up and New purchase price down. Not likely though.

So.... what is wrong with the option of buying a New pass that gives you access to Multiplayer and DLC on a used game? Isn't that all new money for a game being passed on?

...Or is this just that they want to pocket $60+$10pass+DLC again regardless?

Kickin686 said,
So.... what is wrong with the option of buying a New pass that gives you access to Multiplayer and DLC on a used game? Isn't that all new money for a game being passed on?

...Or is this just that they want to pocket $60+$10pass+DLC again regardless?

The pass is included with new games. $10 is only for second hand.

i guess the 7 day return policy for used games will go in handy with the 7 day free trial for multiplayer lol hahaha they are so dumb. also your local GameStop can really be a free rantal place. in 7 days take the game back. i have done that with few games. and some that i really enjoyed, well i kept them

virtorio said,
People are going to need to spend $10 to play the game online.

Things are starting to get out of control..

virtorio said,
People are going to need to spend $10 to play the game online.

Or sign up for a seven day trial pass, which is about the length of the rental period except for Gamefly.

I can see where they are coming from, because Gamestop is really raping on used game sales. However they can't assume that people who purchase used games would purchase the game brand new if the used wasn't available. Most people who made the decision to purchase the game used wouldn't buy it new unless it was super cheap. So honestly all they're doing is reducing the amount of people who will be in the online community.

Seems like they are all doing this. It's not enough to make $60 on the sale of the game itself, now they feel the need to charge extra to buy it used. Will everyone be told that up front? Will it be clearly labeled on all re-sold game?

farmeunit said,
Seems like they are all doing this. It's not enough to make $60 on the sale of the game itself, now they feel the need to charge extra to buy it used. Will everyone be told that up front? Will it be clearly labeled on all re-sold game?
Gamestop wants to make more money from new sales as well.

farmeunit said,
Seems like they are all doing this. It's not enough to make $60 on the sale of the game itself, now they feel the need to charge extra to buy it used. Will everyone be told that up front? Will it be clearly labeled on all re-sold game?

Seeing as they don't see any money from used sales, I don't see the issue here. I think their intention is to deter used sales rather than profit off $10 online passes.

$60 games is another story, I agree that is pretty pricey.

Money in the coffers.

I don't think anyone would like this, but hey, what can we do? Personally sometimes just setting up online in some games is troublesome enough, now we had to enter more codes. And then not to mention the mayhem of region problems we inevitably going to get. "This is an (insert region) copy, you have to purchase it on that region's EA site".

Not that it affects me as I hardly buy a used game to play online, normally it is so old I don't even expect online is still up. Though there is a plus side in that annoying players who get banned etc would need to pay to comeback. But yeah, of course you will get premium service if you are cashing in a lot more.....

I don't see this going very far, people hate spending money, and when things like XBox Live and high speed internet already cost money, I for one wouldn't appreciate having to spend an additional $10 just to use a specific product on those services that I'm already paying for.

This is beyond deplorable. For kids who have made it a regular practice to purchase used games and do not even understand that developers frown upon the practice, this is going to be a huge slap in the face. I just shudder at the thought of some poor kid who saved up for weeks to be able to afford a used game getting home to find out that a major feature of the game is blocked off to them.

I would expect that game developers will stick a massive warning on the game advising potential buyers of this in big, bold letters in order to avoid any confusion, much the same as they do on cigarette packs.

Was piracy not a huge enough target? As is often mentioned, they keep punishing the legitimate purchasers of their games with DRM and now they've decided to attack another group of honest consumers?

Deviate said,
This is beyond deplorable. For kids who have made it a regular practice to purchase used games and do not even understand that developers frown upon the practice, this is going to be a huge slap in the face. I just shudder at the thought of some poor kid who saved up for weeks to be able to afford a used game getting home to find out that a major feature of the game is blocked off to them.

I would expect that game developers will stick a massive warning on the game advising potential buyers of this in big, bold letters in order to avoid any confusion, much the same as they do on cigarette packs.

Was piracy not a huge enough target? As is often mentioned, they keep punishing the legitimate purchasers of their games with DRM and now they've decided to attack another group of honest consumers?

Cigarettes in Europe are so funny. They still don't have those huge labels in the US, just a little Surgeon General warning in some inconspicuous location on the box. When I went to Iraq though we stopped in Ireland and I walked into the store and I saw this big white box that said, "SMOKING KILLS", then I noticed a little tiny Marlboro label on the side, I about peed myself,

CoMMo said,
Cigarettes in Europe are so funny. They still don't have those huge labels in the US, just a little Surgeon General warning in some inconspicuous location on the box. When I went to Iraq though we stopped in Ireland and I walked into the store and I saw this big white box that said, "SMOKING KILLS", then I noticed a little tiny Marlboro label on the side, I about peed myself,

In Canada they have warnings that Cigarettes cause impotence... and likewise, I about peed myself.

Deviate said,
This is beyond deplorable. For kids who have made it a regular practice to purchase used games and do not even understand that developers frown upon the practice, this is going to be a huge slap in the face. I just shudder at the thought of some poor kid who saved up for weeks to be able to afford a used game getting home to find out that a major feature of the game is blocked off to them.

I would expect that game developers will stick a massive warning on the game advising potential buyers of this in big, bold letters in order to avoid any confusion, much the same as they do on cigarette packs.

Was piracy not a huge enough target? As is often mentioned, they keep punishing the legitimate purchasers of their games with DRM and now they've decided to attack another group of honest consumers?

While I completely agree regarding DRM, what would you do instead to curb used sales? The developers see nothing from a used sale, the retailer will profit from this. All because someone didn't want to spend an extra 5$ for a new copy.

If anything, this will drive used copy prices down, if not at retailers, then at ebay or whatever forum you buy sell trade from.

WICKO said,

While I completely agree regarding DRM, what would you do instead to curb used sales? The developers see nothing from a used sale, the retailer will profit from this. All because someone didn't want to spend an extra 5$ for a new copy.

If anything, this will drive used copy prices down, if not at retailers, then at ebay or whatever forum you buy sell trade from.

It's a good point and I don't disagree with the game developers desire to curb used games sales, it's just the manner in which they're doing it which is infuriating. Rather than targeting consumers (who are ultimately the ones that are going to be hurt by this), why not go after the companies who are doing the majority of reselling? I don't know the law behind it, but it seems like they don't have a basis to attack stores like GameStop and so on, so they've decided to move in a direction that will directly affect people who think they are legitimately buying the product. As I suggested above, I'd feel somewhat better about it if they actually do make it REALLY clear on the case of the game that buying it used will result in an added cost to play online.


On the other hand (and I seriously doubt this will happen), it might put pressure on the stores who do sell used games to subsidize the cost of accessing the games online content.


As for eBay, Craigslist, garage sales, and so on, I don't know an effective way to put a stop to it.

WICKO said,

The developers see nothing from a used sale, the retailer will profit from this. All because someone didn't want to spend an extra 5$ for a new copy.
The developers & publishers already got their money from when it was first sold. They shouldn't be entitled to any money beyond first sale. It's nothing but pure greed.

iamwhoiam said,
The developers & publishers already got their money from when it was first sold. They shouldn't be entitled to any money beyond first sale. It's nothing but pure greed.

+1

WICKO said,

While I completely agree regarding DRM, what would you do instead to curb used sales? The developers see nothing from a used sale, the retailer will profit from this. All because someone didn't want to spend an extra 5$ for a new copy.

If anything, this will drive used copy prices down, if not at retailers, then at ebay or whatever forum you buy sell trade from.


Should your car dealer or manufacturer get money when you want to resell your car?

Should the builder who built your house get money when you want to move house?

Richard Hammond said,

Should your car dealer or manufacturer get money when you want to resell your car?

Should the builder who built your house get money when you want to move house?


+1

Richard Hammond said,

Should your car dealer or manufacturer get money when you want to resell your car?

Should the builder who built your house get money when you want to move house?


There are tangible benefits to getting a brand new house or a brand new car. With games (i.e. raw data), there isn't.

iamwhoiam said,
The developers & publishers already got their money from when it was first sold. They shouldn't be entitled to any money beyond first sale. It's nothing but pure greed.
That would only be true if the companies were not paying to host game servers online. Granted, I prefer the way that Battlefield 2 does it: unlock maps that exist in the new version (includes one-time use unlock code), and require a small fee for people purchasing it used to get all of the maps. Yes, they're probably on the game disc, but honestly, oh well. They're not charging me when I bought it new; they're only charging because a lot of people beat the game and then moved on, to the great benefit of GameStop and GameStop alone (or eBay-like endeavors, but clearly it's a smaller market).

For the later car metaphors: if you buy a car with a dealer warranty (mistake), and sell it, then usually the warranty is lost or the buyer must pay some fee to get back into it. This is analogous to paying for online support--it's the dealership's shops, and it's their servers.

-=SEDIN=- said,
i guess i wont be buying any EA games anymore. lower the price EA and i will purchase the game new.

Man, where have the days of buying three EA games for the price of one gone? I remember being able to goto Microcenter or CompUSA and buying 3 EA games for $30...or maybe it was 2 for $30...I don't recall, but they were dirt cheap when compared to popular FPS/RTS/Sim games at the time (10 years ago).

-=SEDIN=- said,
i guess i wont be buying any EA games anymore. lower the price EA and i will purchase the game new.

Used copies are usually only 5$ cheaper.. so maybe you should just buy it new? If you disagree with the games pricing you wouldn't be buying used either, and is another issue altogether.

WICKO said,

Used copies are usually only 5$ cheaper.. so maybe you should just buy it new? If you disagree with the games pricing you wouldn't be buying used either, and is another issue altogether.

that is true if the game is not that old. but what if you buy a game down the line few months later, where the price of it is 30$ used and 60$ new. why should i pay them extra $10 so i can play the game online. for those 10$ extra i hope there are dedicated servers.

-=SEDIN=- said,
"This is an important inflection point in our business because it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhance premium online services to the entire robust EA SPORTS online community,"

Used a lot of "Feel Good" words,
Important
Accelerate
Commitment
Enhance
Premium
Robust
Community

yet the entire sentence says nothing. He must had gotten good grades at the school for politician.

---

-=SEDIN=- said,
that is true if the game is not that old. but what if you buy a game down the line few months later, where the price of it is 30$ used and 60$ new. why should i pay them extra $10 so i can play the game online. for those 10$ extra i hope there are dedicated servers.
For the most part, there are. But, this is not always a good thing!


Remember, EA is the company that likes to cut off support after a year or two, which is why they want to give dedicated server support--so they can cut it off and force an upgrade.

Maysky said,

yet the entire sentence says nothing. He must had gotten good grades at the school for politician.

They could simply say that this is just intermediate step to subscription model (like on WoW). It is the only way to control customers and prices. You can't hack and copy account since it is stored on remote server. They could force every family member to buy separate account by restricting game saves (like one game character per game). There are some benefits, but I guess it will be just another never ending fight between customer (wants more service for less money) and company (wants more money for less service)