Monday, May 10, 2010

EA, You Crazy…Like a Fox

It's in the game. If you play sports video games, chances are you enjoy some products from Electronic Arts. 

Chances are you also like playing those games online in an attempt to prove that your version of the ‘86 Bengals with you as QB are better than your friend’s ‘96 Eagles with his mom as the star running back. 

Chances are you won’t be buying EA games used any time soon.

Destructoid’s Samit Sarkar has the scoop on EA’s latest addition to the Project Ten Dollar initiative.  Following the June 8th release of the surprisingly-still-licensed Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2011, EA sports titles will come with a code in the case that enables online play.  Purchasers of used copies will need to fork over another ten bucks for an EA Sports Online Pass.

Sarkar points out that EA isn’t trying to completely screw over players new to the game.  Those without a code can activate a seven-day trial once per title.  On the off chance that anybody’s still renting Madden from Blockbuster (see our recent podcast for our thoughts on rental chains), they get a grace period to try out the online options.  Not bad, EA, not bad.

I’ve got to admit: I’m surprised no one’s thought of this before.  EA runs a pretty tight online ship, even if that ship occasionally takes on water during its first few weeks at sea (see the buggy launch of Battlefield 1943).  This means that there’s additional overhead required for proper support, and they don’t want the used market cluttering up their server space.  Furthermore, the bulk of EA’s sports revenue appears to come from enthusiasts eager for each year’s iteration.  No reason not to incentivize buying new when most people are going to do it anyway.

Way to stick it to game resellers, EA, in a way that actually makes some modicum of sense.