Or at least weakens it. EA has announced its plan to go forward with their “online pass” service on all EA Sports titles for the 2011 season, beginning with the new Tiger Woods game next month. So what does this mean for used games sales? Click the jump and find out.
I’m sure you all know that a used version of a game recently released costs $55 at a Gamestop. With an Edge card subscription, that cost is reduced to $50, a significant discount. With EA’s new program, consumers will have to pay a one-time fee of $10 to obtain an “online pass” which will allow access to the online features of the game. Players will also be able to sign up for a 7-day free trial of the online pass to test it out. Now this means that, essentially, new games and used games will cost the same amount or, if you don’t have an Edge card, used games will cost $5 more. EA only specifically states that this will apply to their sports titles, but a similar feature was implemented in Mass Effect 2 by way of the Cerberus ID.
There’s no doubt that this hurts the used games market, but to be honest, the used games market has been hurting publishers for a long time now. Publishers gain no money from a used game sale, but this program allows them to see some profit from those sales. The real loser in this situation, are stores like Gamestop.
Much of Gamestop’s profit comes from used games. They buy the games back for vastly reduced prices, and put them on the shelves for a large profit. Used games also fuel sales of the Edge card, which promises even more savings if you use it when purchasing a used game. If more publishers decide to adopt a policy like EA's, it may well kill the entire point of things like the Edge card (though you do still get a year-long subscription to Game Informer, so it’s not worthless.)
Honestly tough, it’s doubtful this will actually kill used games sales. A used game at $45 still nets you a savings even with the online pass policy. Not to mention, that if you buy these games just to play them locally, this plan will not affect you in the slightest. For now we’ll just have to sit back and see how this affects Gamestop’s prices, if at all. One thing is for sure though, someone will try to make a buck of this sudden change, and I hope Gamestop employees are smart enough to avoid a situation where they forget to mention the online pass is required for promises made on the game’s box.