Although reports never confirmed the fact, it was believed that publishers like Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Activision had influenced Microsoft’s decision to provisionally block used games on the Xbox One. There was very little truth to the rumors at the time, but after Electronic Arts announced they were discontinuing the Online Pass, the rumors started to become more believable.
Then came yesterday’s announcement, which saw Microsoft pulling a complete 180 on their used games policy. It was an announcement that few saw coming, and one that likely will have large implications in the gaming market and the next-gen console war. At the same time, the announcement also begged the question: what will Electronic Arts do about the Online Pass now?
So, for now, gamers can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Electronic Arts chose to discontinue the Online Pass in response to player feedback not because a more sinister DRM feature was on the horizon. Granted, a more sinister DRM feature was on the horizon, but EA’s Peter Moore has already said his company had no say in Microsoft’s decision.
It’s still entirely possible that EA could cook up another form of pass (Serial Key, Online Verification) to discourage the sale of used games, but that’s yet to be seen. As we head into a new console generation, the publisher likely wants to build as much momentum as they can, and a new form of DRM – as shown by Microsoft – is not the way to do it. And it doesn’t matter if those new features allow for game sharing either.
Around the time Titanfall hits in Spring 2014 then we can see if Electronic Arts stands by their message. Titanfall is a multiplayer-focused, online experience that, a few years ago, would have had Online Pass written all over it. Will EA let one of their next-gen, flagship titles out into the world without any multiplayer restrictions? We hope so, but there’s no way to know for sure at this point.
Unfortunately, while Electronic Arts has done away with the online pass, this decision by Microsoft is likely going to dissuade other publishers from following suit. That is, unless EA starts winning back the favor of a lot of gamers.
Do you think that Electronic Arts will stand behind their decision to discontinue the Online Pass and won’t implement a different form of pass? Has EA shown you they are willing to prove they are not the “Worst Company in America?”