EA Killing Off Its Much-Hated “Online Pass” Program

onlinepassgrabLast month, Consumerist voters chose video game publisher Electronic Arts as the Worst Company In America for the second year in a row. Whether the company listened or not, we have no idea, but it is doing something that will make some gamers happier.

EA has confirmed that it is getting rid of its controversial “Online Pass” program. For those unfamiliar with it, here’s how it works.

Say you bought an EA game like Mass Effect 3, which has an online multiplayer component in addition to the single-player main campaign. In order to access that part of the game, you need to enter the unique Online Pass code included on a slip of paper in the case.

Problem is, that code is not just only good on one game, it’s only good on the console or computer for which it was first entered. So even if you take your copy of Mass Effect 3 over to a friend’s house, you can’t play online because she doesn’t have an Online Pass code.

The program also effectively made used games more expensive, as anyone buying a pre-owned copy would have to pay extra in order to access the online multiplayer portion of the game. As a result, the company said it made around $10-15 million in the first year of Online Pass’s existence.

“Consumers didn’t like it and were telling us that they didn’t like it,” an EA mouthpiece explained to Kotaku. “We’re not talking about that layer of people who complain about a lot of stuff like paying for games and all that stuff, god bless them. It became pretty clear that mainstream consumers didn’t like them.”

Wired.com is cautious about lauding EA, asking, “what if EA is only killing off the Online Pass because Sony and Microsoft plan to implement some similar forms of system-wide DRM scheme across the PlayStation 4 and new Xbox?”

VentureBeat was first to report the demise of Online Pass.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.