EA, one of the most enthusiastic early adopters of the online pass system, has elected to abandon the scheme.
“Yes, we’re discontinuing Online Pass. None of our new EA titles will include that feature,” senior director of corporate communications John Reseburg told VentureBeat.
“Initially launched as an effort to package a full menu of online content and services, many players didn’t respond to the format. We’ve listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward.
“We’re still committed to creating content and services that enhance the game experience well beyond the day you first start playing.”
Online passes are bundled with new copies of games, offering exclusive downloadable content or access to online multiplayer via a one-time use code. Activision and Ubisoft have also utilised the system.
Although unpopular with users who prefer to pick up games second-hand, the passes did represent significant “found revenue” for publishers in a market which otherwise brings no direct financial benefit to them.
EA had seemed very pleased with the scheme’s success, but its top billing in anti-consumer polls for two years straight may have caused it to rethink its policies.
Retailers have argued that the used game market does have substantial benefits for publishers, in that it drives new game sales.