Monday, 20 May 2013

EA Dumps Online Passes

Didn't honestly see this one coming.

Well, I leave for a week and everything seems to have gone utterly batshit insane. Good to know.... Some of the news that hit the table while I was otherwise occupied was quite surprising. I suppose that at least there's plenty for me to sink my teeth into, so let's start with an old "favourite" of mine: EA.

I've harped on the company pretty much endlessly in the past, and as I was recently discussing with a friend, I think that even with John Riccitiello gone from the helm that the company might still be just as bad as it was before he left. After all, I don't see EA as a company that was hobbled or made horrible by the bad decisions of one individual, regardless of how powerful said individual is. Rather, I think that EA has been an excercise were a great many groups and individuals have made really, really bad decisions.

After Riccitiello's departure we actually haven't really heard that much from the company, other than the whole spiel about how they think it was unfair that they got the title of "Worst Company in America" again -- I can't say I disagree with them, but for vastly different reasons than what they're aiming at -- and of course the more recent news that Disney gave them the rights to make Star Wars games, giving them exclusivity for at least a couple of years. I'm leery, but people are happy that this might mean that Battlefront gets revived, or that Star Wars 1313 actually gets made because it was looking pretty okay. That's neither here nor there though.

In a small, but remarkable decision though, it seems that EA, who was at one point one of the largest proponents for online passes, has decided to do away with them.The last I checked Hell has not frozen over, but this still came as a pretty big shock to me, and to plenty of other people as well I'm sure.

This is a pretty big deal, considering that EA was at one point almost pushing for online passes for a great deal of its games, and had online passes with some of its largest franchises like Battlefield, Madden, and Dead Space. So to see that it's just pretty much giving up on it, and to that end also citing the player response as the main reason for doing so, is something that has me both a little excited, but a lot confused.

The cynical part of me (a.k.a. the majority) believes that EA might be dumping this because it could very well be that the consoles of the next generation themselves will take care of stuff like second-hand gaming, which is something that the online pass was meant to cut into by requiring those that bought used to shell out money to the company to unlock content. The idealist in me hopes that maybe, just maybe, EA decided that the online pass was just a stupid idea, because it was, and got rid of it because they saw how much people hated it.

As the article mentions there are other companies that use the pass system as well, and it's unknown whether they'll follow EA's lead in this case. I will admit though that this is a (small) step in the right direction, even if you're still not going to hear me singing the praises of the company any time soon ... if ever. Still, credit where credit is due, I suppose.

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