What's The Deal With Online Passes?

Online Passes are a new and "pricey" way to battle online piracy and used game sales, the latter being a joke in my opinion. A simple one use serial code that is required for access to certain online content such as Multiplayer and Co-op modes, or unlocks bonus content for a game. Although certain games such as Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and Batman: Arkham City require an online pass even though they are single player games and withhold on disc game content from the consumer if an online pass is not purchased.

If you're like me, then you usually wait for a game to go down in price, mainly due to a tight budget. So when online passes came out my wallet started to cry out in agony. This digital rights management system feels like I'm being kicked in the face for buying used games and trying to save myself some money. With the list of games that require an online pass steadily growing I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand I'm trying to save money by buying used games, on the other I have to cough up ten extra dollars just so I can play online or in some cases experience the full single player campaign.

Here's a list of games that lock out single player content if you don't buy an online pass:

  • Alice: Madness Returns
  • Dragon Age II
  • Rage
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Skate 3
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Here's another list that lock out multiplayer content.

  • Battlefield 3
  • Bulletstorm
  • Dead Space 2
  • F.E.A.R. 3
  • Saints Row: The Third
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Ninja Gaiden 3
  • Twisted Metal
  • Uncharted 3

"The system is flawed." I say. If you wait too long to buy an online pass you run the risk of having it expire, which can result in paying another ten dollars just to play online.

To pay ten dollars for online access to a game that will only have its servers shut down within the next couple years. Now I'm not talking out of my ass here, in case you guys missed it EA pretty much dropped a bomb on the credibility of online passes recently by shutting down the servers for about a dozen games. What that means is that all the online components and DLC are now unobtainable, even if you already purchased it. EA Said "...as games get replaced with newer titles, the number of players still enjoying the older games dwindles to a level -- fewer than 1% of all peak online players across all EA titles -- where it's no longer feasible to continue the behind-the-scenes work involved with keeping these games up and running." Now I can understand where EA is coming from but completely shutting down the servers to run games is a bit overkill.

How many games do you play that have before you even start anything say "Connecting to our servers"? I'd imagine a couple maybe a few. Now think a couple years down the line you want to experience some online play or DLC that you paid for? Well too bad, the servers have been shut down for "New and Upcoming titles." It is one thing to lock us out of a few things but to then later say "Well, tough shit" to us after stuff we paid our hard earned cash for is just obnoxious.

If you're wondering about the list of games EA is shutting down, here's a few of them:

  • Burnout Revenge for 360
  • The Godfather 2 for PC, PS3 and 360
  • MMA for PS3 and 360
  • The Saboteur (You will be losing access to The Midnight Club DLC/Feature) for PS3, and 360
  • Spare Parts for PS3 and 360
  • FIFA 10 for PSP and Wii

I'd imagine that list to grow, just think about it. All the DLC you bought for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning or Batman: Arkham City will within a couple years be inaccessible.

I know I'm freaking out a bit here, so I'm going to tone it down a bit.

I'm all for digital rights management, but the way online passes are looking really concerns me. What are your thoughts on online passes? Am I acting a little paranoid in regards to EA's actions?