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FIFA 11 chief: Online Pass offsets the "human cost" of multiplayer


The first inclusion of Online Pass functionality in a FIFA game doesn't have the team "worried," producer David Rutter has assured VG247, adding that making additional charges to those playing online with a secondhand copy is necessary to justify both the "human cost" of online development and improvements in the game's multiplay service.

Online Pass, the EA Sports initiative that charges those buying secondhand a $10 fee to play games online, came into effect for all of the publisher's titles with the release of Tiger Woods 11 in June this year.

FIFA 11, releasing on October 1, will be the first FIFA product to use the scheme.

"I don't think we're as worried about it as some people probably think we are," said Rutter, when asked if he was apprehensive about bringing Online Pass to FIFA, EA's biggest franchise.

"From the day it goes live to six weeks after, we're all on 24 hours a day, seven days a week call, to try to fix anything that happens on the servers or game that people are reporting. On a personal level, that's going to cost me part of my life. I don't get paid overtime.

"I'm not, for one instance, suggesting that I don't want to do it, but there is a human cost."

"Ridiculously expensive"

Rutter went on to chorus recent quotes from EA Sports boss Peter Moore on the matter, saying the charge was necessary not only to ballast general maintenance costs, but also to fund further development.

"There's a company cost for maintaining this kind of stuff, and we've always done it [at no extra charge]," Rutter added.

"Many people are enjoying playing online, and we want to continue to not just do that, but we also want to continue to make it better and better and better.

"It's ridiculously expensive, and we want to try to deliver the best possible thing we can do. For the vast majority of people that buy the game, they're not seeing any additional cost.

"The only thing they are see the hindrance of having to put in a small code at the beginning of the game, which will ensure that their online experience is unparalleled."

Online Pass also has the benefit to EA of encouraging people to buy games new. Used game sales are constantly cited as a reason for declining new sales.

Online gaming has become highly important to EA Sports. FIFA 10 alone logged 10 million online game sessions within one week of launch. The last confirmed sales stat for FIFA 10 was 9.7 million units in February of this year.

FIFA 11 is to include bolstered online features over its predecessor, such as the ability to play full a career as a goalkeeper.

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