Starting a few months back EA had begun their “Project Ten Dollar” campaign with Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2, which entails consumers who buy used copies of games to pay an additional $10 to access online content and other features free to purchasers of the new game. Each new game comes with a one time use code that will enable certain online functions for games such as online mutliplayer, DLC access and other features. This was put into place by EA to off set the money that is lost in the used game sale market, while tempting gamers to purchase their games brand new.
Mass Effect 2′s ten dollar program has been relatively popular with gamers as it has helped maintain stronger server support and a better online community for the game, but I see a problem arising when this “feature” hits this years sports games.
Starting with Tiger Woods 11, and subsequently put in place for Madden, NCAA, MMA, NBA and other future sports titles, if a user buys the games brand new they will have no issues accessing all aspects of their game. The problem comes when you purchase a used copy as you will not be able to access any online portion of the game without the online pass that is included with the new copy of the game. Therefore if you purchase a used copy or even rent a copy to play for the Xbox 360 or PS3, you will not be able to compete online with anyone, compete in tournaments, receive roster updates and access other online content for your game you just dropped $40-$50 on. The only way to do so would be to buy the $10 online pass from EA for your game.
EA Sports president Peter Moore stated “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”, basically saying buy having users pay for this now instead of getting it free we can offer them better online service. I see the positives and negatives in this. Positive in that EA can use these funds to provide better server support and features for users, but the negative is the consumer who buys a used copy of a game months after its launch but then is forced to pay even more money to experience the full capabilities of the game.
Gamestop obviously is not too happy about this and has filed a lawsuit against EA stating this will impact their revenue each year, which is understandable as Gamestop makes their money off of used sales, but it doesn’t appear that EA has any plans to stop this program.
You can read more about the EA ten dollar program at its official site right here.