Electronic Arts is introducing a $10 pay-wall scheme in a new war with the pre-owned game market.
The initiative will see EA’s line of sports games come bundled with a free pass card for online services – permitting access to online games, downloadable content and other online bonuses.
The pass card will work much like a Microsoft Points card, with users having to input a code to get online access. Once the code is used, the player’s online account is activated and the pass card becomes useless.
It means that, in theory, all pre-owned EA Sports games found at the retailers won’t be offering free online access.
Those who buy EA Sports games pre-owned can still get online access, but will have to pay $10 for one.
The initiative is EA’s newest bid in recouping losses from pre-owned game sales, which many developers past and present have deemed a serious threat.
EA has experimented with the system in the past. Its recent release, Dragon Age: Origins, prevented second hand buyers from accessing a range of bonus content in the same way.
The publisher will launch the pay-wall service next month with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11. Shortly following this, the system will be introduced to all future EA Sports games releasd on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
"This is an important inflection point in our business because it allows us to accelerate our commitment to enhance premium online services to the entire robust EA Sports online community," said EA Sports president Peter Moore.
And in a surprise move, retailer GameStop has pledged its support for the initiative.
A large proportion of game retailers’ profits come from pre-owned sales, which provide far higher margins that newly-sold titles.
Yet the retailer said it is “excited to partner with such a forward-thinking publisher as Electronic Arts."
According to GameStop CEO Dan DeMatteo, the retailer can still benefit from a deal aimed to harm its pre-owned game business.
“This relationship allows us to capitalise on our investments to market and sell downloadable content online, as well as through our network of stores worldwide."
Moore added, "We’re delighted that GameStop is offering their support of this program as a place for gamers to purchase points that provide access to downloadable content from EA at their stores and through their website."