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May 12, 2010

EA Sports trying to discourage the purchase of used video games

Used video games are a booming business for game retailers like Gamestop, and it's also been a boon for those gamers who are trying to save a few bucks. Usually these games are $5-10 below the cost of buying the game new (not to mention the option of trading in games for credit towards other games), and none of that money goes back to the game publisher. Publishers don't like that.

Game companies have fought this by offering incentives to people pre-ordering games, or buying their games new. Some games, you will get some little gift if you buy the game new, like unlocking a multiplayer feature as soon as you start the game rather than having to work your way up to it. Purchasers of Splinter Cell: Conviction were given codes for the Beta test of the new Ghost Recon game.

Now EA Sports is upping the ante.

According to Games Radar and Game Informer magazine, EA Sports will begin including one-time only codes for playing its games online. If you buy the game new, you'll get the code. You enter the code and you can play! But if you get the game used, most likely that code will already have been used and it can't be reused. Instead, you can pay EA Sports $10 for a new code.

It does cost EA money to keep their online servers going, so it is kind of understandable that they would like to crowd out the used game market from using them without paying, but it isn't the most fan-friendly way to go about it. Considering the outcry when EA signed an exclusive deal with the NFL to produce NFL football video games, I can't imagine this is going to go down well with the "regular folk."

Personally, while I understand the desire to do this, I think the better way to encourage people not to buy used games is the incentive market of giving them extra stuff (that doesn't cost much, if anything, to provide). I think penalizing folks who are just trying to save a few bucks isn't very conducive to customer relations. Activision has already taken EA's spot as the most hated game company in America. Why would EA want to grab it back from them?

Still, there will be plenty of EA fans who are already buying their sports games new the day it comes out, so I'm not sure how much this will affect them on the bottom line. I guess we'll have to see.

Incidentally, this policy is only for the PS3 and the Xbox 360, and will take effect with the release of Tiger Woods 11.

What do you think? I'd love to hear from my videogaming brethren. Steve?


  1. What,you want my thoughts? LOL! From my perspective, I'm fine with EA's stance on this. Every EA Sports game I've bought I've bought new, usually within the first week of release. I'm more concerned with EA shortening the on-line life of their titles. While I enjoy the FIFA games, I never bought FIFA 10 but continue to play FIFA 09. I imagine they will soon shut down the 09 server, which will piss me off.

    Another thing I don't like about EA Sports is the paying for Ultimate Team in the FIFA series. It was $10 in FIFA 09. They reduced it to $5 in FIFA 10. They started Ultimate Team in Madden 10 and it was free (!), but I bet if they continue that for Madden 11 it will be a premium.

  2. Wow, how did you know I was talking about you? :P

    Actually, you're the only guy I know that's also into video games. Yes, I have no life...

    The only EA Sports game I buy now is NCAA Football, and I don't play online anyway, so it's not a big thing for me. It will be interesting to see what the outcry is when this becomes widely publicized.

    Do you play FIFA online? Obviously, since you buy new already, it won't affect your buying decision, of course.


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