Why EA Thinks 'Online Pass' Plan Is Good For You (And EA)S

Video game publisher EA has a new plan to squash used game sales, the Online Pass program, which requires a unique code to access online content and multiplayer. Why does EA think this is good for you, the consumer?

Electronic Arts boss John Riccitiello stresses the Online Pass scheme is not just a great way to make buying a used copy of its game less attractive. "We think it's a great idea. We think it's gonna build our business. And we think it's a positive consumer experience," EA's CEO said during an investor call today.

"Invariably, the consumer is getting a boatload more content to experience than they otherwise would," Riccitiello said. "We used to literally pull our teams off of a game within maybe four to six weeks pre-ship and they'd go work on something else because the game was done, it was going into manufacturing. Their jobs were done."

Now, with EA's adoption of "Project Ten Dollar" initiatives like Mass Effect 2's Cerberus Network and Battlefield: Bad Company 2's VIP program, things have changed.

"Our teams are being held in place up through and beyond ship to continue to create content to entertain the consumer with new content associated with the IP they like best," Riccitiello says. Of course, EA's going to benefit too... and not just from fewer used game sales.

"We saw a very, very high redemption rate of first time purchasers using the code redeeming the content," added EA COO John Schappert. "By giving people this access code, we got them into the online world. So we've seen very strong uptick in downloadable content across all titles, because we have content available on day one and we seeded it with a bonus token for free content."

You see? Everybody wins!