EA Online Pass Systems Salvages USD15 Million With No Investment

Most players, ourselves included, believe that EA's recently launched Online Pass system was designed to thwart second hand game sales. It has been a year since its launch now, and EA has released the first details about its success.

The Online Pass system gives access to online multiplayer and other features to the first purchaser of the game through a one-time code. Subsequent second-hand buyers have to those codes for money if they wish to access those features. EA argues that this is an added bonus for the first purchaser, but gamers believe that this is a way to extort second hand buyers.

"The revenues we derive from that haven't been dramatic," EA CFO Eric Brown said during the Citi 2011 Tech Conference. "I'd say they're in the $10-$15 million range since we initiated the program."

$15 million might be small fry to a company in EA's size, but it is still a lot of money; specially that it comes with almost no added cost on the company. Brown described it as a "found revenue" that comes from available bandwidth that has been "consumed for free" till now.

For contrast, Take-Two believes that it is better to reward first hand buyers than to punish second hand ones. "You don't want to use a stick punishing users for buying used, you want to give them a reason to buy new. You want to create something that's of benefit to consumers," Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said last year. "By letting consumers know there is more stuff to come, it stands to reason they'd hang on to their titles."

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