Online Pass is great value for money

EA Sports president Peter Moore says the publisher’s controversial Online Pass allows the firm to deliver more and better digital content.

Online Pass has proved divisive as it forces players who have bought a second-hand game to spend an extra $10 to unlock the online mode.

Consumers that buy games new will not be affected by the initiative, which begins with Tiger Woods 11 next month.

However Moore says that the sheer number of people using its online service every day is costly – and that second-hand sales have significantly reduced the firm’s catalogue business over recent years.

I remember getting very excited when 1,000 people came online to play NBA 2K on Dreamcast – that was a red letter day for us,” said Moore.

Now we are looking at five million people a day on the EA Sports servers, so we have come a long way.

I look at the investment that we make in bringing digital experiences – building solid infrastructure, making sure servers stay up and offering customer support when needed. It all takes time, money and effort and we are at the cutting edge of that.

Online Pass is a way for us to frankly bring more digital experiences quicker. If it is going to be successful, it is up to us to create compelling, fresh, 365-days a year, digital experiences. And there is a cost to serve that we deserve to get paid for.

We used to do catalogue business, but that has diminished greatly and you can imagine why. $10 feels like a reasonable price for a game that will go on for months and months.”

EA Sports has also told MCV that its digital business has become a primary focus for the company because gamers are generally buying fewer titles than before.

EA Sports’ senior VP of worldwide development Andrew Wilson added: What our consumers are telling us, and the growth that we are seeing, is that the preference now is not to buy lots and lots of games, but to spend more money on fewer games.

In fiscally challenging times, maybe a gamer won’t buy three games anymore, maybe they’ll buy two and spend the other $60 or 30 on extendable content, on experiences they know they love, rather than taking the risk on another product.”

Moore concluded: On top of everyone’s mind right now is the digitalisation of our business.

FIFA has become the jewel in the crown from the perspective of being able to deliver digital experiences; it broke a lot of ground with Ultimate Team. Refreshing the experience through post-launch content will become more and more important to us.”

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