EA Starting Up A Potential War?

That was my first thought when I read this article from The Consumerist about EA’s decision to disallow online play for used copies of their sports games unless the person purchasing said used game is willing to pony up some extra cash for it.

The details are outlined in this quote from Destructoid:

Starting with the release of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 on June 8th, all EA Sports games going forward will include a code in the case, and you’ll need to type in that code in the menu in order to enable online play. If you buy an EA Sports 11 game used, or if you rent one, or if you borrow one from a friend, you’ll have to buy a code from the Xbox Live Marketplace or the PlayStation Store for 800 Microsoft Points or $9.99, respectively. Of course, EA Sports will still afford you the privilege of purchasing DLC (or downloading free DLC) for its games, but without an Online Pass, you’ll only be able to use the content offline.

Thankfully, EA Sports has included a provision for renters and borrowers: if you don’t want to buy a code, you can activate a free seven-day trial of online play — but you can only do it once per EA Sports game. Surprisingly, GameStop is on board with the EA Sports Online Pass — the retailer will be selling Xbox Live Marketplace points and PlayStation Store cash cards alongside the 2010 EA Sports games.

So in short, you can pay an extra $10 to play with your used game online or buy a new version, which will now include codes to activate online play. This makes no sense, since, as The Consumerist points out, GameStop normally sells used copies of $60 new games for only $5 less, meaning you’re actually paying an extra $5 for the full functionality of the game if you want to buy it used.

What does this mean? Well for one, any buyer with half a brain won’t be buying used copies of sports games until they go further down in price, which will inevitably slow down and in some cases even cease sales of used sports games, which is sad for GameStop since I’m sure they make quite a bit of money off of them. This also leads me to wonder why GameStop is being supportive of this, and my only guess is that they would rather comply than incur the wrath of Microsoft and have their products reduced in number or even pulled out of their stores completely.

Secondly, this will slow down and/or cease the renting of these video games, since the price to buy online play is more than it costs to rent in the first place. They’re also trying to smooth things over by giving 7 day trials per used game, but that means the first person to buy or rent the game are going to be the only ones able to enjoy the online play. This seems pretty pointless to me.

So, is this going to start a war of sorts? Quite possibly. GameStop is being compliant so there won’t be any trouble on that end, but people who are strong advocates for used gaming are surely going to be angry, and the nonchalance of those who don’t participate in used gaming will probably piss them off even more. I personally am a huge fan of used gaming; almost all of the games I buy are used. In this economy, saving that little bit of money helps quite a bit, especially when you’re buying an older game that is deeply discounted from its brand-new price.

However, I also have to admit that I abhor sports games, so personally this doesn’t affect me and I really find it hard to care, save for the fact that this may wind up spreading to other kinds of gaming, such as first-person shooters or RPGs that are played online. If this move becomes successful in Microsoft’s eyes, you may very well find yourself shelling out extra money to play future entries in many popular game series, and that does not sound very nice to me.

Feel free to leave comments with your own thoughts and opinions!


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    notjustagamer said,

    I can see why EA would do this for sports games though. The sports video games market is vastly different from traditional games, in that these games lose their value right after the next version comes out. It is understandable that both EA and Gamestop would want to generate some type of profit from older sports titles that sell for $5 used.

    In addition the players would also likely be paying for updated player stats that would come with newer titles. Also, the server space that is needed to support both the new and older titles likely costs EA more than they would like, especially considering playing games online is a larger factor in sports games than some other titles.

    I doubt that it would branch to other types of games, but it will be a grim day if it does.

    • 2

      You make very good points! I was thinking from a consumer perspective but you’re thinking from a business perspective that I’m usually good at channeling but clearly I failed this time around. Thank you for sharing =D

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