"It's in the game." That's the slogan that EA Sports has harped on for years. But now, it's only in the game if you buy a game new, or if you cough up even more dough as a used game buyer.
We don't necessarily cover too much of the video gaming space here at Hot Hardware, but this particular shift in business practice
was simply too glaring (and frankly, important to the entire industry) to pass over. EA Sports has done to sporting franchise companies in the game space what Walmart has done to mom and pop groceries stores: made 'em hurt, bad. EA Sports is basically the only company still out there making AAA sports games, and consumers rarely think to look beyond the "Madden" football franchise or any other franchise owned by the company.
Nothing's wrong with being big, and in fact, EA Sports titles are generally the best out there. Rarely do they receive negative reviews, and rarely are consumers not eager to buy the next installation. But this change may temper that excitement. Starting with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, anyone who buys EA Sports titles used (as in, not brand new from the retail shelf) will be forced to pay an extra $10 to EA Sports in order to unlock full online multiplayer functionality. For Xbox 360
users, that's on top of the fee you pay each month to access Xbox LIVE. Basically, it's highway robbery.
For years now, video game companies have hated the used game market, while consumers have loved it. But a line has been drawn here, and in the future, if you purchase older, used EA Sports games, you'll be playing solo or local multiplayer only unless you pony up. Used game buyers will be given a week-long "trial" of the online functionality; after that, they'll have to pay $10 for an unlock code. New game buyers receive a "free" unlock code in the box. The real kicker is that many sports games are best enjoyed online, so this hurts doubly bad for avid online sports players.
The worst part is that this is likely to start a trend; when one airline began charging for checked baggage, everyone else followed suit within just a few weeks. How long before every other gaming company out there slaps this $10 fee on their own used titles? Not long, we're afraid.