Earlier this month Electronic Arts announced they were discontinuing their online pass program, which requires gamers input a single-use code before hopping into the multiplayer battlegrounds of their favorite EA games. At the time it sounded like EA was making such an announcement to get back into gamers' good graces, especially considering they had been named "The Worst Company in America" for the second year in a row.
Similarly, we speculated that Electronic Arts might also start retroactively removing the online pass requirements from their current games, freeing their multiplayer modes up for all to play. And, as it turns out, that's exactly what they are is doing.
So far, Electronic Arts has eliminated the price tag for 10 different games on Xbox Live — dropped down from either 1200 or 800 MS Points. We say MS Points because it appears the PlayStation Network has not yet seen similar treatment.
Here are the games that currently have a free online pass:
The dissolution of the online pass was first spotted by NeoGAF user MMaRsu, and has since been confirmed by EA via an official statement. They claim EA Sports titles (Madden, FIFA, NHL) will bet getting the love first, as players will soon notice the online pass prompts have disappeared.
"As we discontinue Online Pass for our new EA titles, we are also in the process of eliminating it from all our existing EA titles as well. We heard the feedback from players and decided to do away with Online Pass altogether…these are rolling updates that are taking effect over the next several weeks. We hope players continue to enjoy our games and online services for a long time to come."
While the lack of PS3 support is an obvious oversight, it appears EA is making good on its promise to listen to gamer feedback. They've rendered one of the least-liked business practices mute, at least for their games.
At the same time, we still have to wonder whether EA decided to discontinue the online pass not to please fans but because the feature will no longer be necessary moving forward. If rumors regarding used game support on the Xbox One (and maybe the PS4) are true, then EA, and all publishers, will have turned the online pass into a fully-fledged game pass. No longer will gamers have to pay to play online, they will have to pay to play at all.
For now, though, we can enjoy some free multiplayer courtesy of EA.
Which EA game are you most interested to finally take online? Do you think the discontinuation of the online pass is a sign of things to come?