First Online Pass Enabled Game in Stores

The first test of EA’s Online Pass begins soon, with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 in stores nationwide. Of course the real test won’t begin until first-time buyers dump their shiny new copies of EA’s golf game back into retails stores like GameStop and used game buyers either buy it or boycott it. In case you haven’t been following EA’s Online Pass, it is a serial code based system for Xbox 360 and PS3 sports games from EA Sports that charges used game buyers $10 to access online play.

While the industry and angry consumers await the results of this little experiment, Joystiq’s Law of the Game points out that game publishers maybe playing with a fire they can’t put out: government regulation. Here’s a sample, though there are more points worth reading in the rest of this article:

Many of you may recall that I’ve mentioned the FTC’s lingering desire to regulate more online content, as we’ve talked specifically about DRM and EULAs in the past. If the FTC is really looking to make a splash, all it needs are a few complaints about the Online Pass, especially related to multiplayer. Why multiplayer? The box will almost certainly list that as a game feature, and one of the things the FTC always focuses on is misleading advertisement or labeling. In fact, if anyone at EA is reading this, proper box text could be the difference between the FTC looking into the issue and choosing not to address the issue. Like so many other things, if other companies choose to start making similar systems mandatory for certain content and play types, then the probability that regulators get involved goes up significantly.

The one other important point made in the column is that Tiger Woods is not the real test for Online Pass; it is going to take a game like Madden to see whether or not Online Pass will fail and chances are that – if the FTC does look into this – it will be because some high profile individual or a player somehow connected with someone at the FTC will get burned by a used game.

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  1. 0
    Longjocks says:

    I thought golf games would be hard enough to sell in the first instance, let alone second hand. The only thing worse is watching golf on television. Although I think it’s a perfectly fun sport to play IRL.

  2. 0
    Chris Kimberley says:

    They’ll probably put it on the box, in small print, somewhere near the bottom.  Lost amidst a sea of other legal notices they feel they have to put there to cover their butts.


    Chris Kimberley

  3. 0
    SimonBob says:

    Yeah, who in their right mind would want to play a game starring one of the most elite sportsmen of the modern era, a man who was named athlete of the decade by the Associated Press, especially now that it’s come to light that he’s sunk enough hole-in-ones to take a run at Wilt Chamberlain’s record?

    Do you find the oxygen gets a little thinner up there on your high horse? ;D


  4. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    A self imposed catch 22. Either they don’t put it on the box and get in trouble wit hthe FTC, or they face the wrath of customers who take the time to read the box.

  5. 0
    Thad says:

    There’s the rub: the best way to avoid an FTC smackdown is to prominently print, on the box, that online play requires an extra $10 — which is exactly what you DON’T want to do if you want people to buy your game.

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